House Centipedes

Common House Centipede (Indoor Centipede) Facts

The common house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata) is native to Mediterranean areas of Europe but is now found throughout the United States. The common house centipede, is an unmistakable fixture in many homes. While they can be found in a variety of locations worldwide and thrive in differing environments, they infest homes for warmth and protection in the winter.

The house centipede measures 2.5 to 5 cm in length and, like other centipedes, it has a long, flattened body. However, its 15 pairs of legs are longer than most and are banded white. The last pair of legs is longest and often appears to be a second set of antennae. Any of the house centipede’s 30 legs can detach if grasped by a predator. The body of the house centipede is grayish yellow to brown in color. House centipedes have lengthy, slender antennae and three longitudinal dorsal stripes. During the first of their six larval stages, house centipedes have only four pairs of legs. At each molt, these arthropods grow more legs.

Although the body of a house centipede is stout and contains 15 body segments, there are only seven tergites, or plates, on the upper body surface. This configuration allows house centipedes to be fast runners as well as efficient hunters. If caught by a predator, a house centipede will reflexively detach its legs, which it is capable of regenerating at a later time.

House centipedes come into the living space of homes. They are commonly found in kitchen cabinets, bathrooms, basements, garages and crawlspaces beneath buildings. Stockpiles of firewood are also favorite lurking places for the house centipede.

House centipedes feed on spiders, bedbugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish and other common household pests. Although their prey is killed through an injection of venom, the bite of a house centipede rarely induces serious effects in humans.

In order to identify the severity of a house centipede infestation, sticky traps can be set. These traps will provide an accurate gauge of population levels, as well as potential routes of access within your home. After the infestation is confirmed, homeowners should reduce moisture and seal routes of entry. Moisture in a building’s foundation can lead to infestation, as can water accumulated from the roof. Leaves, wood, compost and other organic material should be kept away from the building.

While their presence may seem beneficial, as house centipedes feed on small insects such as cockroaches, a house centipede infestation can grow quickly. After performing the steps above, it is advised that a pest control professional be contacted to eradicate the house centipede population.

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