What do Centipedes Look Like?

What do centipedes look like?

Centipedes can be identified by their flattened, elongated bodies. Typically colored reddish brown, the body of a centipede is divided into segments, with each segment bearing one pair of legs. The majority of centipedes have short legs, but the house centipede's legs are extremely long. Despite their name, most centipedes have far fewer than 100 legs, although their swift movements and coloration can sometimes make it appear otherwise.

House Centipede

House Centipede

Located below the mouth, the centipede's first pair of legs is modified to administer venom to prey and predators. The venom is not normally life threatening to humans. However, the pain from a large centipede bite can be extreme and may last up to several days. The centipede's head also holds a pair of multisegmented antennae.

Centipedes prefer to make their habitat in moist areas outdoors. They are often found within compost or leaf piles and underneath stones, boards and other detritus. The house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata) will infiltrate homes, appearing in moist basements, closets, bathrooms, crawl spaces and unfinished basements.

Unlike other species of centipede, the house centipede is grayish yellow in color with three long, dark stripes. Its legs are encircled with alternating dark and white bands. Measuring approximately 2.5 to 5 cm in length, the common house centipede has 15 pairs of long legs. They move very quickly and are sometimes mistaken for spiders.

If you suspect a centipede infestation within or around your home, contact a professional to discuss control and extermination options.


Dig Deeper on Centipedes

There are bugs in my bathroom sink with many legs

Do Centipedes Lay Eggs? | Centipede Prevention | Orkin

Can Centipedes be Dangerous to Humans or Animals? | Orkin

How do Centipedes Get in the House? | Orkin

How Many Pairs of Legs Do Centipedes Have? | Orkin

How to Identify Centipedes | Centipede Facts | Orkin

Why are there Centipedes in My Bathroom? | Orkin

Centipedes' Reproductive Cycle

What Do Centipedes Eat?

Centipede Habitat & Environment | Why do House Centipedes Come Inside? | Orkin

Connect with Us

Our customer care team is available for you 24 hours a day.


Find a Branch

Our local Pros are the pest experts in your area.

Get a Personalized Quote

We will help you find the right treatment plan for your home.



Pest ControlTermite ControlPrevent and Protect


Browse All Pests

© 2022 Orkin LLC

Terms of UsePrivacyAccessibility StatementCareers