What Is That Thing in My House?
Do you know what that alien thing is at the top of this page? If you've never seen it, then you will probably never know what it is. If you have seen it, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's what's known as a house centipede, or Scutigera coleoptrata in the animal world.
To many people, this thing can be the bane of their existence! Many people are taken aback when they see it. The first thing out of their mouths is: "What the heck is that?" And rightfully so, because it does look alien in origin! However, it's definitely from this world, and I will provide you with some very valuable information about it.
If you want to know how to kill house centipedes, please keep reading!
How to Kill House Centipedes
How do you kill them completely? Well, there are a couple of ways to do this. Trying to squish each and every one you encounter won't work because:
- They hunt at night because their eyes are sensitive to light. You're probably encountering maybe one in a few hundred every time you see one!
- There are just too many of them! With the average female house centipede laying between 60 and 150 eggs at a time, you'll never be able to keep up!
Three Options to Kill House Centipedes
- Hire an Exterminator. This will probably be your best bet. An exterminator can kill the house centipede and the insect infestation that they are chasing after. One of the drawbacks to an exterminator is even they will tell you that it's going to take more than one visit to completely kill them all! That's going to cost you more money. Another drawback is most of us don't like the idea of someone spraying chemicals around the same house where our family lives. It's where our children play and sleep!
- Try Boric Acid. Boric acid has been the insecticide of choice for generations. It's that white powder that you saw along the woodwork in your Grandma's basement! Boric acid works on two levels. It acts as a stomach poison if the insect ingests it, and it is abrasive to their exoskeleton if they touch it!
- Dehumidifier. Another unconventional method is to use a dehumidifier. How does it work? Since the house centipede likes to hang out with moisture and high humidity, you can use a dehumidifier to dry up the moisture and humidity! This will make their stay in your home unpleasant. This method might not work completely, but it will slow them down.
Insects are smart, and they will always find a way to get to their food. Just like I said earlier, the house centipede has been seen in every room in the house!
Where Do House Centipedes Come From?
House centipedes originated in the Mediterranean region of the world. The earliest reported sighting in the United States was in 1849 when they were most likely transported here by some cargo ship. When you encounter a house centipede today, it will most likely be in the basement of your home.
These insects like to dwell in damp, humid environments. This is the best place for them because this environment protects them from the cold and dehydration. They breathe through small openings called spiracles, so a damp environment provides a steady stream of oxygen for them. Although you will most likely encounter them in the basement, they have been found all over the home: bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. They've even been known to be in the bed with people while they sleep! Whatever room you can think of, the house centipede can found in it.
- They run quickly and can climb walls as well as ceilings. As you can see, house centipedes can be quite bothersome if they are allowed to get out of hand.
Why Are House Centipedes in Your Home?
Contrary to popular belief, house centipedes are not to be kept as pets. There are some people out there who decide to keep them as pets. House centipedes have a real purpose and reason as to why they are in your home, and you won't like it when I tell you what it is.
House centipedes are one of the predators of the insect world. They are what is known as insectivores, meaning that they hunt and kill other insects. If you have seen the centipedes in your home, it means your home has the right conditions for house centipedes to hunt. You have an insect infestation somewhere in your home!
They are not in your home to be pets, and they are not in your home to live because they have nowhere else to go. They are there to hunt! House centipedes eat spiders, bedbugs, silverfish, termites, roaches, cockroaches, ants, and whatever insect that they can get their 15 pairs of long legs on.
- Did you notice anything about the list of bugs from above? Yes, these are the same bugs that plague your home if you're not careful! The house centipedes eat all of them.
- They are not harmful to humans. A sting from a house centipede is not uncommon. It leaves behind some swelling and redness, but it is not altogether dangerous to people.
There are some among us that proclaim that because of the above facts, we should leave them alone. I don't agree with this. I've met none of these people in real life, and I'm pretty sure that if they woke up with a house centipede over their bed, or on their pillow inches away from their nose, that they would change their tune.
These things are insects, and, if left unchecked, they can be an infestation themselves! Instead of justifying why I should allow them to stay in my house, I'd rather kill them! I'd rather kill them and the insect infestation that they're after!
How Many House Centipedes Are There?
That is a great question. The answer is this: No one knows for sure. No one knows for sure how many house centipedes are in your home. But let's try to guess.
- The house centipede has a lifespan of about 3 to 7 years of age.
- The females begin to lay eggs at around the age of 3.
- The average female house centipede can lay between 60 to 150 eggs at a time.
- You do the math!
If you always see these things, then it's a safe bet that they have been in your home for some time now. You'll most likely notice them at two different times of the year: spring and fall.
- They come out in the spring because of the warmer weather.
- During the fall, they seek shelter in our homes because of the cooler weather.
- Coincidentally, the spring is also when the rest of the insect world decides to wake up from their winter slumber.
How To Kill House Centipedes!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2010 klw5200
House Centipede Comments!
BURNETTA Hampton on October 01, 2019:
How to get rid of apt centipedes
Mike B on April 24, 2019:
Centipedes kill termites, moths, flies, and roaches. Leave your house centipedes alone
June on November 24, 2018:
OM!!! These are so creepy!!! Don’t believe they can’t bite you. They not only bit me, but it left bumps like I never saw. Bedbugs got nothing on them. That being said, running to the bathroom about 2 am and heard this sound like scratches on my wooden floor. I looked down only to see one speeding my way. I was in the light on the toilet. Out of sheer panic I crushed it. It was either me or him. My Mama said... “YOU CANT BE SCARED OF WHERE YOU LIVE” Kill it & rest!!! JF
Diane on November 04, 2016:
My house centipedes are rarely seen, but when they are, I welcome them. They must like moist places, because there was one in my bathtub that disappeared later into the drain or vent, I don't know which. The thing is, I left it there because it was nocturnal, only there first thing in the morning or at night, and disappeared on it's own if I left it alone.
Here's an interesting thing I found out about them: In this same bathtub in the mornings I would find a dead fly, flat as a pancake, all it's juices sucked out. If I left the door to the bathroom open, any fly in the house would end up flat in this bathtub. My conclusion: this house centipede somehow excreted something that attracted a fly, it's prey. It waited till the fly landed and then attacked it. Because of this I had an automatic fly trap and after one night, any fly in the house was dead.
Since then, I saw a house centipede in my family room. I had several spiders in there, which I didn't like. They disappeared and I haven't seen another in that room since.
I always, when I see one, verbally welcome it, say "hi!" and leave it alone.
Cindie on July 02, 2013:
Ok, I was creeped out before, now I'm COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROL where these "things" are concerened. We live in a wooded area and I wake up EVERY morning to find ONE or MORE in my greatroom when I turn on the lights. Let me tell you, these things are SMART, they run and drop off the wall and run even faster to get away from me, YUCK!!! I have vacumed up COUNTLESS numbers of them. Thanks for the info we are on a mision to rid our house of EVERY insect. NOW!
xemlee on June 30, 2013:
I was biten by this insect in the back of my ears when i was sleeping...i was freaking out coz dont know if this thing is dangerous or thingking what will happen
to me.i didn't get back to sleep searching for this insect in the internet if this insect had a side effect on my body.i have two kids and im worried for them.
Fred's Bughouse from near the Equator on April 29, 2013:
Nice hub. But centipedes eat cockroach eggs and lots of other nasty stuff, so I let them be.
Fear controls you on March 30, 2013:
Guys (and gals)...
These things are 100% harmless to humans... In most cases they don't even have the strength to break human skin with a bite. House centipedes are the KINGS of the insect world and destroy all other insects (i.e. spiders, some of which ARE actually quite a problem).. On top of that, they have a lifespan from 5-7 years, so when you kill them you're actually robbing it of quite a bit of life (which I think most of us do enjoy!)
Just remember, it's far more scared of you than you of it... Hence it's 'Run Away!' tactic (which admittedly freaks most people out because they are quite the quick movers).
casey on September 27, 2012:
our family has them to they r nasty we squash as many as we can try to keep no spiders webs around so there is less food source we too also have silver fish which are equals as gross maybe It's just cause we have an older house or heck maybe It's just Iowa LOL
Wubber! on September 12, 2012:
Wow, that's really creepy. But, I see Silver Fish once a year and their pretty big (which their not suppose to be) and they might be centipedes and.... what's worse is that they have more than six legs.
Deshra on September 02, 2012:
You could also use Diatomecious earth, DE is completely harmless to humans, and animals but destroys insects completely. DE is comprised of microscopic Diatoms that harden and form shards when they die, these microscopic shards carve insects open and leave them very vulnerable to dehydration. Any arthropod and even some slugs cannot survive crawling through DE. DE in food grade can be consumed to kill internal parasites as well.
klw5200 (author) from Pennsauken,NJ on August 25, 2012:
If it seems like nothing is working then you have to do something that I alluded to before. If nothing is working then you have to give the house centipedes a reason to leave your home. GET RID OF THEIR FOOD! The only reason they are in your home is because you have a hidden insect problem. Spray for whatever insects you might see that are NOT house centipedes. They eat everything so it doesn't matter. Spiders, ants, roaches, crickets, etc...Get rid of the insects and you get rid of them.
Darren on August 14, 2012:
My wife woke up the other night because one was crawling on her leg. She has been freaking out ever since. The bed is pulled away from the wall, she wakes up in a fit if she thinks something has touched her, and has become an insomniac. We have done all the usual remedies for years... sealing up openings, white powder, humidity control. Nothing has worked so far. Anybody have any new ideas?
klw5200 (author) from Pennsauken,NJ on August 03, 2012:
Ok...im not going to scold u about your spelling because I'm not your 3rd grade teacher. But thanx for the love anyway!
Alexis s. on August 02, 2012:
Omg this is really great. All this information let's me now a lot about these ugly scary itchy creepy crawling dirty disgusting creatures! 2 dumbs up !!
klw5200 (author) from Pennsauken,NJ on August 01, 2012:
They might not bite you, but they do get a little too close for comfort, don't they?
Ad on July 31, 2012:
Haha great article and video. Laying in bed right now after killing two centipedes. Reason: I saw one running away from my PILLOW when I lifted my HEAD. Yuck!!
Patrick on July 17, 2012:
While the article is somewhat right, I don't entirely agree. These things showed up in my home, from out of nowhere, a number of years ago; and yes, when I first saw them they FREAKED ME OUT big time. I was on a mission to stomp and squish every last one of them. But after reading up about them, I became one of those people who leaves them alone. I wouldn't go so far as saying "keep them as pets" but if I see them I don't kill them.
Don't let UNFOUNDED FEAR dictate your actions: the only reason we want to squish them is became they are indeed the poster children for "creepy crawlies" and they're FAST. But after I got a hold of myself, I examined them more closely and became familiarized with them, and the sight of them no longer bothers me.
As mentioned in the article, they're predators: i.e., they won't eat your plants or crops, they won't eat your foodstuff or your house's woodwork, etc. and unlike spiders they won't leave behind webs or other dirt.
What's untrue in the article is that they'll become an infestation themselves: if you're seeing a lot of them it's because you have an infestation of some other insect(s) in your home. Being predators, if there isn't enough food to hunt the population will migrate or die off (also note that house centipedes can live several years).
It's also very uncommon for them to sting humans since their bite can't penetrate adult skin, except maybe for the largest specimens. But having handled a few, they don't even try.
If you want to get rid of the house centipedes the best course of action is to find and eliminate whatever other insect infestation you have going on. Like the rude, fat uncle that visits on Thanksgiving, once the food is gone, they'll leave on their own.
klw5200 (author) from Pennsauken,NJ on June 06, 2012:
I'm not a veterinarian my friend. But I suspect that you shouldn't let your dog anywhere near boric acid. Just a suggestion...
Eric on April 20, 2012:
Are those methods(exterminator and boric acid) safe around my dog?
shelbi on August 12, 2011:
i seriously just saw one run on my floor from under my bed and ive got the creepy crawlies now and cant sleep cuz im freaked out on whether or not theres more too!!! but ur video did make me laugh a little and i feel a teeny bit better lol
dal10pages on May 17, 2010:
this was already a good hub and the video deffinetly toped it off!! nice! (comment on my hubs now