House Centipede

(Scutigera coleoptrata)

Introduction: House centipedes have a wormlike body, long slender antennae, and 15 pairs of legs. The body is grayish-yellow, is marked with three longitudinal dark stripes, and the legs are encircled with alternating dark and white bands. They can range in length from 3” to 4” and can run very rapidly.

Habits: All centipedes have venom glands and the means to inject their venom. Centipedes use maxillipeds, a modified pair of front legs that curve around the head, as fangs to deliver the venom to captured prey. However, bites are infrequent and even the largest species found in the United States is not sufficiently toxic to be lethal to man. Centipede bites are typically compared to that of a wasp sting. House centipedes are beneficial Chilopods since they feed on silverfish, firebrats, carpet beetle larvae, cockroaches, spiders and other small arthropods. If house centipedes are seen frequently, this indicates that a prey arthropod is in abundance and may signify a greater problem than the presence of the centipedes.

Control: Inside the home, a large infestation is often associated with moisture, such as around a leaky pipe or toilet. These conditions should be corrected as well as making sure there is proper ventilation in the basement and crawlspace. Outdoors, potential harborages should be removed, such as boards on the ground, grass clippings, discarded boxes, etc. Lastly, a professional perimeter treatment will reduce centipede numbers and help prevent them from gaining access to the home. Cook’s Pest Control offers expert treatment for the control of centipedes and our pest management professionals are thoroughly trained to address your centipede problems.

About Centipedes

  • Centipedes eat spiders and other insects, and it’s extremely rare for them to bite humans.
  • They’re attracted to moist, damp areas like basements.
  • Some homeowners tolerate centipedes because they devour other insects, but crushing a centipede can cause an unsightly stain.