Understanding House Centipedes

House centipedes are common throughout the world. With origins in the Mediterranean regions, this insect has spread across the world and is often found living in human homes. They often retreat into homes as weather gets cold and they are forced to seek shelter, though they can also be commonly be found in bathrooms, basements, and other humid, dark places year round. Since they are small and hide in small nooks, you may have resident centipedes and not even know it. Here are a few points to understand about house centipedes.

What Are Centipedes?

The technical term for the house centipede is scutigera coleoptrata and is 1 to 2 inches in length with 15 pairs of legs. Their bodies are rigid and typically yellow and grey with three dark stripes running down the length and legs. Like many insects, they feature a hind portion that resembles antennae to confuse predators. This is known as automimicry. The house centipede is typically a nocturnal hunter that relies on it’s antennae for smell and feel.

While they have developed, faceted eyes, they rely more on their antennas for navigation and hunting. They primarily feed on spiders, termites, bed bugs, cockroaches, and ants. They adapt their hunting methods to the prey so as to avoid injury. For example, when hunting wasps they apply venom and retreat until it takes effect. They also may jump and latch onto prey. Centipedes are also evasive; they can detach trapped legs if they are in danger of being eaten. Because of this efficient adaptation and varied pest control, centipedes can actually be kind of handy to have around in small numbers.

Where Are They Found?

Their natural habitat outdoors consists of cool, damp, enclosed spaces like beneath rocks, in piles of wood, and compost piles. When they come into the home, they can be found anywhere but prefer dark, humid places. You may find them in your house during the fall and early winter when it becomes cold. They may retreat outdoors as temperatures warm in the spring. Since they are nocturnal it is not very likely you will come across them regularly if they are inside your home.

Because they can control any moisture loss in their respiratory systems, centipedes require these kinds of cool, humid environments to thrive. These protect them from excessive cold and dehydration. Geographically, centipedes are found virtually everywhere. From all over North America, Europe, and Asia to South America and Australia, the house centipede has been introduced all over the globe.

Centipedes and You

House centipedes do not pose a threat to humans. While they are creepy looking, they are only one to two inches in length. They can quickly run across ceilings, floors, and walls, but at 1.3 ft per second, they are not going to take you by surprise. Centipedes are solitary and ordinarily stay in dark, concealed places so you may not even know they live in your house. Stings are very uncommon and are tantamount to a bee sting with some redness and/or swelling. Even if you were to be stung, the forcipules are usually not even strong enough to break human skin. Like many household insects, the centipede is more psychologically fearsome than a legitimate physical threat.


If you discover centipedes in your home and want to be rid of them, there are a couple things you can do. Since they live in cool, damp places, cleaning and drying the area in which they live can eliminate the conditions under which they thrive. They also live where the food is, so eliminate any other insect infestation to take away their food source.


Also, inspect the interior and exterior of your home for holes and crack that could allow for entry from outside. Sealing these openings can help lower the likelihood that centipedes will get into your home. If all else fails, call pest control Salt Lake City or your local exterminator for professional removal. If the conditions in your home are such that a population of centipedes and other varieties of insects are thriving, you probably need to re-evaluate your housekeeping and take steps to order and clean your living space.

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