Common House Centipedes

(Indoor Centipede)

Facts, Identification & Control

Scientific Name:

Scutigera coleoptrata

Appearance

House centipedes have long, flattened bodies, which can measure as long as 1-1/2 inches long. The arthropods have 15 segments, and each features one pair of legs. The centipede’s legs are long, slender, and thread-like and have black and white banding. On females, the last pair of legs is more than twice as long as the body. The body is a yellowish-brown with three dark stripes running along the top of the body with lighter shading between them. They have large, well-developed eyes.

Behavior, Diet & Habitat

When house centipedes get inside a home they are usually found in the kitchen, bathrooms, basements, drains or garage and crawl space. It is not uncommon to see house centipedes that were trapped inside a sink or bathtub. Outdoors, they will be found in stacks of firewood, under leaf litter or in protected crevices in rocks or tree bark.

Diet

House centipedes prey on many household pests. Some of their preferred prey include, cockroaches, flies, moths, crickets, silverfish, earwigs and small spiders, but they will prey on almost any insect pests. However, their predation makes only a marginal reduction in the populations of the insects they prey upon. House centipedes capture prey by grasping them with their legs and using their modified front legs as jaws to deliver venom into the prey. Unless provoked to defend themselves, house centipedes rarely bite people or pets and mostly prefer trying to escape threatening situations. Also, although house centipede venom is not as toxic as some other centipede species and their bites rarely cause any serious effects. Bites normally cause minimal, localized pain, but some individuals may experience severe pain. However, serious bite effects are more likely to be the result of secondary infection than the bite itself.

Life Cycle

Females lay 35 or more eggs in damp soil during the spring or summer months. Larvae hatch from the eggs and have four pairs of legs when born. More legs develop as they go through six instars or stages. Female house centipedes may live up to three years.

Sign Of An Infestation

Centipedes typically leave no direct evidence other than being spotted in a sink or tub and being seen quickly running across floors or climbing on walls or ceilings.

More Information

If house centipedes become a problem, the best course of action is to seek the advice and assistance of your pest management professional. Your pest management professional will perform an inspection and determine the most likely sources of the population. He might set out some sticky traps to monitor for their activity, but will certainly advise the homeowner on what can be done to reduce moist conditions and upgrade exclusions for possible and actual points of entry. Outside recommendations will include removing clutter that serves as house centipede habitat. Eliminating other insect species from the home is an effective control strategy because centipedes depend on insects and other arthropods for food. For this reason, it’s very important to identify other pests inside houses and buildings and target those pests using both non-chemical and chemical control methods as appropriate for the situation.