Guide To Centipede Removals | Killing Centipedes | Doctor Pest

by admin | Last Updated: June 19, 2020

Getting Rid of Centipedes + How To Keep Them Away

centipede in natural habitat
Table of Contents

They’re creepy. They’re crawly. And for many of us they’re downright terrifying. Centipedes can be frightening to behold and while they tend to be more fearsome to other, smaller bugs, their presence in our homes is rarely welcome.

They are venomous predators, and while it’s fairly rare for them to bite humans, their toxic chomping can be very painful to those on the receiving end.

Because of their interesting appearance and behaviors, some people breed and keep centipedes as pets. However, unlike their gentler cousins millipedes, centipedes are not recommended for young children or those unfamiliar with keeping invertebrates. They are faster and more unpredictable than millipedes and although they rarely behave aggressively towards humans, they are easily frightened when handled, which may lead to painful misunderstandings.

In this complete guide, we’ll look at how to prevent and identify an infestation of centipedes in your home, help you spot the symptoms of a centipede bite and allay your concerns when it comes to dealing with these fearsome looking but ultimately fairly harmless invertebrate predators. We’ll also look at some of the best commercial centipede control products and answer your Frequently Asked Questions about centipedes.  

How To Prevent a Centipede Infestation

While a centipede may ultimately prove no more harmful than a bee, it’s understandable that you might want to keep them out of your home. Especially if you have young children or toddlers who might encounter a centipede while crawling or toddling around the home.

When it comes to keeping out centipedes, it’s essential to consider what attracts them to your home in the first place. Food! Not your food, but the kinds of small insects that may be drawn to your house by stray food crumbs and splashes of moisture. Roaches and spiders, for instance, are the centipede’s natural prey and they will think nothing of using your home as their hunting ground.

Make sure that areas like the kitchen and bathroom are kept clean and dry. Take out your garbage and recycling regularly Centipedes are nocturnal hunters, and prefer cool, dark and moist spaces in which to hunt. Do yourself a favor by not providing this environment for them. Sealing off cracks and crevices around the home can prevent centipedes from gaining ingress into the home, while a sprinkling of Borax will kill a centipedes food sources even if it doesn’t kill the centipedes themselves. Cracks and crevices can also be appealing places in which centipedes can lay their eggs. Centipedes can sometimes get into the house through drains and poorly ventilated windows. Keeping windows sealed and drains free of foliage or food scraps will further decrease your likelihood of sheltering centipedes in your home.

Centipedes can also make their homes in wood piles or piles of dead leaves. So try and keep these far away from your home wherever possible.

centipede walking on ground

How To Identify Centipedes

There are a staggering 8,000 centipedes in the world, and only 2,500 of these have been named. The common or house centipede (Scutigera Coleoptrata) is the species that you’re most likely to come into contact with by far. These are among the most diminutive species of centipede, although they can still be very creepy in appearance.

Like millipedes, centipedes can be identified by their flattened, worm-like bodies. Despite what their name suggests, a centipede often has far fewer than 100 legs. However, you may not have the time to count them because centipedes can be very fast moving when they sense the presence of a larger mammal such as yourself. House centipedes usually have 15 pairs of legs as well as two antennae on the head and two long appendages that look like a tail on the rear end.

While most species of centipede are reddish brown, the house centipede is yellowish gray in color with three long, dark stripes and alternating dark and light bands on their legs.

Signs & Symptoms Of Centipede Bite

A centipede bite is technically not a bite at all. Centipedes have a pair of claws on their frontmost legs (just under the mouth) which act as a poison delivery system. They use their venom to paralyze their prey (usually small insects).

In the case of smaller species of centipede their jaws are rarely strong enough to penetrate human skin. However, it’s not uncommon for house centipedes to deliver a nasty “bite” with their claws if they feel threatened. Let’s face it, if you were approached by a creature hundreds of times your size, you’d feel threatened too!

In most people a centipede bite is moderately painful, similar to the sting of a bee. In most cases, the pain will persist only for a few hours. However, in some species (such as the giant desert centipede) the more potent venom and more powerful delivery system mean that pain can persist for far longer. In most cases, a centipede bite will also be accompanied by swelling and tenderness around the site of the bite that may persist for several days.

In a rare few who are particularly sensitive to the venom, symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, vomiting and irregular heart rate.

centipede walking in forest

How To Get Rid Of Centipedes

Once you’ve encountered a centipede on your property, you need to identify any potential points of ingress and seal them as a matter of urgency. Because centipedes thrive in damp environments, you may find that investing in a dehumidifier also helps to make your home less appealing to centipedes.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to create a deterrent for any other centipeds that may make their way into your home. Commercial insecticides can prove highly effective in keeping centipedes at bay. However, if you’d prefer to use a natural alternative, consider using neem, insect or garlic oil, mineral oil or eucalyptus oil. Sprinkle a little Borax or cayenne pepper around the perimeter of your home and you’ll continue to repel centipedes and the smaller bugs that they prey on.

If you’d prefer a non-lethal alternative, simply use a household broom to sweep centipedes into a jar or container. These can then be deposited outside where they can find somewhere else to hunt.

Do’s and Don’ts of Centipede Removal

Removing centipedes from your home is relatively easy. However, to ensure your safety and prevent any unnecessary pain or discomfort (or grossness) it’s best to stick to the following do’s and don’ts of centipede removal.

FAQ About Centipedes

My child has been bitten by a centipede, what do I do?

In the vast majority of cases, a cold compress is enough to alleviate the swelling and soreness that come from a centipede bite. If pain or swelling persist for more than a few hours, or if your child experiences nausea, vomiting or headaches, consult your doctor.

Can centipedes harm by pet dog or cat?

In most cases a curious dog will likely be unharmed from a bite by a centipede. However, if they show signs of pain or distress, it may be a good idea to take it to the vet, just in case. Likewise, while cats may often give chase if they see a fast moving centipede, most will be unharmed. However, if they show any changes in behavior that could be signs of pain or distress, a check up from your vet will give you peace of mind.

Do I have to kill a house centipede?

No. In fact, it may be beneficial to let centipedes (especially house centipedes) go unharmed in your home. They are relatively harmless to you, your pets and your family, they do no damage to your home, clothes or furniture, and they can prove highly effective in getting rid of common pests like moths, silverfish and termites which may prove damaging to your home or clothing.