What are Centipedes?

What are centipedes?


Centipedes, belonging to the class Chilopoda, are arthropods characterized by their distinctive segmented bodies and numerous legs. Despite their name, the number of legs in centipedes varies, ranging from 15 to 177 pairs. Each body segment bears a single pair of long, slender legs, contributing to their rapid and agile appearance. The first segment features venomous claws or fangs known as forcipules, used to inject venom into their prey. Centipedes have a pair of antennae on their heads for sensory perception.

Found in diverse environments, including forests, grasslands, and urban areas, they thrive in moist and dark places. Carnivorous by nature, centipedes play a beneficial role in controlling insect populations by actively hunting insects and small invertebrates.

While larger species can deliver a mild, venomous bite if handled, centipedes are generally more helpful than harmful in the context of pest control.

What Kinds Of Centipedes Are There?

There are thousands of species of centipedes, and they vary widely in size, color, and habitat. Some of the common species include:

House Centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata):

Found in homes, these centipedes have long, delicate legs and are known for their speed. They are beneficial as they prey on other household pests.

What are house centipedes?
House Centipede

Giant Centipede (Scolopendra spp.):

There are various species of giant centipedes found in different parts of the world. They are among the largest centipedes and can reach impressive sizes, with some exceeding 12 inches in length.

Stone Centipede (Lithobiidae family):

These centipedes are commonly found outdoors under rocks and logs. They have a flatter appearance compared to some other species.

Tiger Centipede (Ethmostigmus spp.):

Named for their distinctive striped coloration, tiger centipedes are found in tropical regions and can be quite large.

Desert Centipede (Scolopendra polymorpha):

Adapted to arid environments, desert centipedes are found in regions with sandy soils and are known for their pale coloration.

Common Centipede (Scutigeromorpha order):

Found in various environments worldwide, common centipedes have a flattened appearance and are adapted for life in soil and leaf litter.

Greenhouse Centipede (Thereuonema hilgendorfi):

Often found in humid environments such as greenhouses, these centipedes have a unique appearance with a bright green color.

Blue Tiger Centipede (Hemiscolopendra marginata):

Native to parts of North America, blue tiger centipedes have a distinct blue coloration and are often found in wooded areas.

Where Do I Find Centipedes?

Centipedes can be found in a variety of environments, and their habitats can vary depending on the species. They are commonly found in:

Moist and Dark Environments:

Centipedes thrive in areas with high humidity, making damp and dark places ideal for their survival. This includes locations such as basements, bathrooms, crawl spaces, and under rocks or logs outdoors.

Soil and Leaf Litter:

Many centipede species are soil-dwelling and are often found in leaf litter, garden beds, and areas with loose soil. They play a crucial role in controlling insect populations in these environments.

Wooded Areas:

Centipedes can be found in wooded or forested areas, where the abundance of organic matter and moisture provides a suitable habitat.

Urban Environments:

Some species of centipedes, like the house centipede, are adapted to urban environments and may be found indoors. They often hide in dark and secluded areas such as closets, basements, and under furniture.

Are Centipedes Nocturnal?

Although they may be allowed to enter buildings and houses, centipedes do not roam freely during the day. Centipedes can move fast, are agile, and are nocturnal. They are attracted to damp places such as basements, closets, basements, and other areas that are infested with pests.

What Do Centipedes Eat?

Centipedes are carnivorous predators that primarily feed on a variety of small invertebrates. Their diet includes insects and other arthropods, making them beneficial in controlling populations of pests. Some common prey items for centipedes include:

  1. Insects: Centipedes actively hunt and feed on a wide range of insects, including ants, spiders, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, and beetle larvae.
  2. Worms: Certain centipede species may prey on earthworms and other small soil-dwelling organisms.
  3. Arachnids: Centipedes often consume spiders, mites, and other arachnids.
  4. Invertebrates: Small invertebrates such as springtails and insect larvae are part of the centipede's diet.

Do Centipedes Cause Damage?

Centipedes do not cause significant damages to structures, furniture, or belongings like some other pests do. Unlike termites, rodents, or certain insect pests that can cause structural damage or damage to stored items, centipedes primarily focus on preying on other small invertebrates. Their diet consists mainly of insects, spiders, and other arthropods.

Do Centipedes Bite?

Centipedes can be venomous. Centipedes are equipped with venomous forcipules (modified front legs) that they use to inject venom into their prey. While centipedes are not aggressive toward humans, they may bite if handled or feel threatened. Bites from most centipede species are generally mild and result in temporary pain, redness, and swelling. Rarely, individuals may experience a stronger reaction.

Lifespan Of A Centipede

The lifespan of a centipede varies based on factors like species, environmental conditions, and individual circumstances. Typically, centipedes have relatively short lifespans, ranging from one to three years for most species, though larger centipedes may live up to six years.

Their life cycle involves hatching from eggs into nymphs, undergoing molting stages, and reaching adulthood. Reproduction is a crucial aspect of their life, with females laying eggs in the soil, leading to the development of young centipedes.

Environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and food availability significantly influence their lifespan, and suitable conditions contribute to their overall well-being and longevity. While centipedes play important roles in controlling insect populations, their lifespans are relatively brief compared to some other arthropods.

How To Get Rid Of Centipedes:

Reduce Humidity:

  • Centipedes thrive in high humidity. Use dehumidifiers in damp areas like basements and bathrooms to lower moisture levels.
  • Ensure proper ventilation to reduce humidity in enclosed spaces.

Seal Entry Points:

  • Inspect and seal any cracks, gaps, or openings in the exterior of your home, especially around windows, doors, utility lines, and vents.
  • Use weather stripping on doors and windows to prevent centipedes from entering.

Remove Hiding Spots:

  • Declutter areas where centipedes may find hiding spots, such as piles of papers, cardboard boxes, or old clothing.
  • Regularly vacuum and clean spaces where centipedes are likely to hide.

Natural Repellents:

  • Use natural repellents like diatomaceous earth in areas where centipedes are present. This desiccant can help control their population.
  • Consider using essential oils like peppermint or cedar oil, as these scents are known to deter centipedes.


  • Apply residual insecticides in cracks, crevices, and other hiding spots. Choose insecticides labeled for centipede control.
  • Boric acid in powder form can be effective; however, use caution and follow product instructions.

Professional Pest Control:

  • If the infestation persists or is severe, consider seeking professional pest control services.
  • Pest control professionals can assess the situation and provide targeted solutions based on the specific conditions of your home.

Regular Maintenance:

  • Implement ongoing preventive measures, including regular cleaning, decluttering, and maintenance of a low-humidity environment.
  • Seal entry points and address any conditions that may attract centipedes to your home.

Centipedes Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What attracts centipedes in the house?

Centipedes are attracted to environments that provide the conditions they need to thrive. Some factors that may attract centipedes to your house include:

High Humidity: Centipedes prefer damp and humid environments. Leaky pipes, damp basements, and poorly ventilated areas can create favorable conditions for centipedes.

Dark and Secluded Spaces: Centipedes are nocturnal and seek dark, isolated areas during the day. Cluttered spaces, piles of debris, and areas with little disturbance can become attractive hiding spots.

Prey Presence: Centipedes feed on insects and other small invertebrates. If your house has an existing insect or pest problem, it can attract centipedes looking for a food source.

Cracks and Openings: Centipedes can enter homes through small cracks and openings. Poorly sealed doors and windows, gaps around utility entry points, and other openings provide easy access.

Do I have a Centipedes problem?

Centipedes will hunt in places where there is moisture. Centipede problems can be caused by a moisture problem or an insect problem in your home.

Centipedes love the soil and landscaping materials around our homes, such as rocks, mulch, and railroad ties. It is easy for centipedes to move in and out of our homes by living close to them. These pests will move indoors when it is too hot or dry.

Will house centipedes crawl in your bed?

House centipedes are nocturnal and are known to be active hunters during the night. While they may explore various areas of a home, including bedrooms, it's relatively uncommon for them to crawl into beds. House centipedes prefer dark and secluded spaces, and they are more likely to hide in cracks, crevices, and corners rather than seek out beds.

However, if a house centipede finds its way into a bedroom, it might accidentally end up on a bed while exploring its surroundings. The presence of centipedes in bedrooms is often associated with their pursuit of prey, such as spiders and insects, that may be present in the room.

What kills house centipedes?

Several methods can be used to control and eliminate house centipedes:

  1. Insecticides: Using insecticides labeled for centipede control can be effective. Apply them in cracks, crevices, and areas where centipedes are likely to hide.
  2. Natural Repellents: Certain natural substances, such as diatomaceous earth, can be used to create barriers that deter centipedes. Essential oils like peppermint or cedar oil are also known to repel centipedes.
  3. Reduce Humidity: Centipedes thrive in high humidity. Using dehumidifiers in damp areas and improving ventilation can make the environment less favorable for centipedes.
  4. Seal Entry Points: Prevent centipedes from entering by sealing cracks, gaps, and openings in the exterior of your home. Use weather stripping on doors and windows.
  5. Remove Hiding Spots: Declutter areas where centipedes may find hiding spots. Regular cleaning and vacuuming can help eliminate potential harborages.
  6. Professional Pest Control: If the infestation persists or is severe, consider calling Alta Pest Control. Pest control professionals can assess the situation and provide targeted solutions based on the specific conditions of your home.

How can I prevent Centipedes in the future?

Partner with Alta Pest Control to prevent problems with centipedes. Also, follow these prevention tips:

  • By keeping your home's perimeter dry, centipedes will not be able to get into it. Keep your gutters clean, trim overgrown shrubbery, and create a barrier between the soil or mulch and your foundation.
  • Take out any decaying wood pieces from your property, such as fallen trees, stumps, piles or leaves, and brush piles.
  • Leakage in your pipes outside or inside your house?
  • Cut back your lawn and remove any weeds from your foundation.
  • Repair cracks in your foundation and place door sweeps on exterior doors to make moving easier.
  • Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to keep the interior dry.

How Alta Pest Control Protects Your Home From Pests

All of our treatment plans are customized to your home and yard. We do this to ensure that you get the exact coverage you need to keep your home safe. All of our technicians and inspectors are experts in their field, so you can be sure that you are getting top-tier protection.


One of our expert technicians will inspect every inch of your home and business for pest activity. Then they will create a custom plan based on their findings.

Initial Service

Once your custom plan is created, we will treat your home and yard to give you immediate relief from pests. Then, we will create a boundary around your property to prevent more pests from entering.

Follow Ups

After the initial service, we will conduct regular maintenance to ensure that your pest problems remain solved. We will also conduct free inspections for problem pests, such as termites.

Alta Guarantee

When it comes to pest control, we put our money where our mouth is. If we treat your home, and you're still seeing pests, we'll come back and retreat for free. We'll always have your back.


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