Centipedes are arthropods, an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and paired jointed appendages. They are sometimes called “hundred-leggers” because of their many legs, and commonly infest homes, led by an abundance of insects in your yard.
Centipedes are fierce hunters that love to hunt down spiders, cockroaches, silverfish, and termites. Therefore, they can also prevent bug infestation in your yard.
Centipedes are attracted to damp and moist areas that provide an abundance of insects and bugs that they can eat. They also search moist areas for their harbors. To get rid of centipedes, you can try killing them on sight, setting up sticky traps, using insecticides, putting a barrier, and if it becomes uncontrollable, calling for professional help.
In this article, we will discuss the thing you need to know about centipedes, including how to identify them and what attracts them into the house. You’ll also get to know how to get rid of them once they become annoying and uncontrollable.
How Can You Identify a Centipede?
Centipedes are easy to spot. They have elongated, worm-like bodies with many legs. Centipedes have an average of 15-177 pairs of legs with one pair per segment. The number of legs depends on the species, and centipedes always have an odd number of legs.
Typically, the body of a centipede has a yellowish to dark brown color. Sometimes, their body also has markings or dark stripes. Their heads have sensitive and long antennae that are covered with dense hair. Centipedes have small mouths and large claw-like mandibles that contain a venom gland.
Finally, their eyes contain 200 optical units and more. Some centipedes have a cluster of simple eyes on each side, and others don’t have any.
There are two representative species of centipedes:
- The Common House Centipede (Scutigera Coleoptrata Linnaeus)
This centipede’s body is about 1 to 1 ½ inches (25-38mm) long. It has a grayish-yellow with three longitudinal stripes. The house centipede usually has 15 pairs of long legs. The last pair of legs and antennae of the centipedes are longer than its body.
Those are the largest centipedes. They grow 6 to 12 inches (15cm) long. Their legs and antennae are shorter than those of the house centipede.
Scolopendra centipedes are aggressive and can incur a more painful sting than house centipedes. Their venom cause burning pain and can spread up to the limb of your toe or finger. It will last for several days or longer.
Some people often confuse centipedes with millipedes. Millipedes usually have a dark color body, as well as two pairs of legs per body segment. Meanwhile, centipedes come in many colors, sizes, and only have one pair of legs per body segment.
Millipedes are slow-moving arthropods. They only feed on dead plants, unlike centipedes, who like insects and bugs. Millipedes are beneficial to your garden as they feed on dead plant materials. Then, they return lawn fertilizing nutrients to the soil.
Centipedes are likely to visit your home if you have other pests that centipedes are feeding on. Centipedes are rarely seen by humans due to their nocturnal activity and speed.
To control the presence and remove centipedes from your home, you have to remove their food source.
Centipedes are typically found outdoors. In the summer, they lay 35 eggs or more in or on the soil. Newly hatched centipedes have four pairs of legs and can progressively grow new legs until becoming adults. Centipedes live between 1 and 6 years.
When provoked, centipedes bite and can cause problems to you because of their venom.
What Attracts a Centipede into Your Yard?
Centipedes love getting into houses. They are small and move swiftly. But, what attracts them to your home?
House centipedes don’t survive in drought conditions, making them moisture pests. The population of centipedes will increase if your home is located near damp areas. Dampness can occur if:
- If you have a faucet outside or on the side of your home. Leakage in the faucet causes moisture. Thus, inspect and make sure that the faucet and hose don’t leak, and that the gutters are in good condition. Doing so will capture the water and allow a good passage to your downspouts.
- Clogged gutters create moisture problems. If the leaves, branches, and other debris fall into the gutter, they can cause water flow blockage. This will make the water flow to the side and down to the walls, pooling near the foundation walls.
- After a rainfall, the soil in your yard gets damp. In some areas that receive a lot of sunlight and rainfall, the moisture can sit long and invite moisture pests. Thus, trim the bushes and cut tree branches to prevent the attraction of centipedes.
Centipedes visit your yard in search of food. They prefer creatures like spiders, insects, worms, and other arthropods. If they find such soft-bodied creatures in your walls, they can eventually get inside your home.
Here are some issues that attract centipedes:
- Ornamental plants and other vegetation will encourage centipedes to visit your yard. These bugs feed on plants, and centipedes will eat these plant-eating pests.
- Centipedes may linger under a rock and other hard objects. Once you flip a rock, you’ll find different kinds of bugs on which centipedes feed.
- Open trash can also attract centipedes. Indeed, when you leave your trash bin open, it not only attracts flies, but also spiders. And more spiders and flies means more food for centipedes.
- Insects are attracted to light, especially when you leave your curtains open at night. This light attraction increases the bug and insect population in your yard, making it more food convenient for centipedes.
The foundation walls in your yard are the perfect sanctuary or harborage for centipedes. This harborage comes in many forms.
A stock of wood is a perfect refuge and hiding place for many creatures. Even the construction tools and materials, home decorating objects, appliances, or toys left outside can be a place of harborage when left in the yard.
These items may sit on the grass and prevent sunlight from getting through, making a perfect harborage for pests that are food for centipedes. Even a pile of leaves and unraked leaf litter can attract pests.
Besides, pests also like weeds and tall grass. Thus, it is best to keep your area neat to reduce the population of pests and centipedes. Reducing the population of centipedes, especially those near your foundations, prevents them from coming back into your yard.
Do a detailed inspection, and for added protection, seal any exterior holes that a centipede can come through. Check the window and door screen as well. A small gap can allow the centipede to get in.
Signs of Centipede Infestation
Centipedes are nocturnal and vivacious hunters. It is hard to tell if you have a centipede infestation in your home, but if you begin to see more centipedes in your home, you probably have another type of pests lurking around.
Centipedes prey on spiders, cockroaches, and silverfish, which could mean you’ll see more of them if your home is full of these insects.
Here are three signs of a centipede infestation:
- Seeing Centipedes
The first sign of a centipede infestation is when you spot centipedes all over your home. Seeing many centipedes in your house most likely indicates a pest problem. You should be aware that centipedes are known for moving where there are many insects.
- Numerous Pests
If you know that you have pest problems with other bugs and that there are plenty of centipedes in your yard, you should count on the fact that the more pests, the more centipedes you’ll see in your home.
However, unlike other pests, centipedes don’t ruin furniture and appliances. They are only after their prey, which is all over your house.
- Moist, Dark Areas With Clutter
If you have a moist and dark basement and attic, and a good place for hiding, it is a guarantee that centipedes are infesting there. These areas are full of spiders, cockroaches, and other insects. That makes them the perfect sanctuary for centipedes to feed and lay their eggs.
Centipedes typically leave no direct signs of an infestation other than the sighting of the pest itself.
How to Get Rid of Centipedes in Your Yard?
Centipedes come in more than 2,000 species in the world. Most of the centipedes live outdoors and only enter your home when it’s cold outside.
Centipedes do not pose any threat to humans. On the contrary, they help kill spiders, insects, and bugs around the house. But, their bites contain venom, which isn’t pleasant, especially if you have kids and guests in your house.
Here are some ways to get rid of centipedes in your home:
- Kill Them on Sight
Centipedes don’t invade households in a large number. However, they move swiftly thanks to their long and numerous legs. That means you have to be quick when killing them. Get rid of them by stomping or spraying them with bug repellant.
If you are too scared to approach a centipede, you can just vacuum it quickly or try catching it in a jar. Then, release it outside. However, sometimes, they’ll return inside.
- Set up Sticky Traps
Set up a sticky trap in the corner and crevices where centipedes tend to go. In some instances, centipedes can escape the traps, especially the large ones. They will just walk over the sticky trap and simply leave a couple of their legs.
Sticky traps are only effective for smaller centipedes. With these traps, you may also trap other insects that are quietly sneaking and crawling into your home.
If none of the above works, you can try using insecticides. Insecticides are temporary solutions. You can buy them in any garden supply store. Make sure, before using the product, that you have read the instructions carefully as insecticides may be harmful to your kids and pets. Thus, avoid prolonged contact with them.
The sticky traps will alert you if there is a large infestation. Then, you can spray insecticide directly onto the trap with insects and pests on it.
If you are an Earth-friendly person and don’t want to poison the planet, you can use natural pesticides, like boric acid or food-grade diatomaceous earth. Those will control the continual centipede infestation as well.
To exterminate centipedes completely, spray or use a product that contains pyrethroids, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, cypermethrin, permethrin, or tralomethrin. This will instantly kill the centipedes upon contact.
- Put down a barrier
Put a moat-like barrier around your yard, whether it is chemical or natural insecticides, as centipedes are from the outside and come inside for shelter and food hunt.
Once the centipedes touch the barrier and pass through it, they’ll die or be nearly dead by the time you find them. You can also use organic pesticides that contain cyhalothrin. Although this pesticide is for ants, it does double-duty by getting rid of centipedes.
- Peppermint and Eucalyptus Essential Oil
For an organic way of discouraging centipedes in your home, try using peppermint and eucalyptus essential oil as centipedes hate those smells. Thus, it will keep them away as contact with these oils burns them.
For peppermint essential oil, apply or drop a small amount of it directly onto the entrance points or cracks. It could be underneath the radiator, windows, floorboard, and others.
For soft surfaces, like the perimeter of the sofa and bed, mix a few drops with water and spray the mixture around the area. You can use a spray bottle to complete this step.
For eucalyptus essential oil, you burn the oil in a steam diffuser. Eucalyptus scents smell good and compliment the aroma of peppermint you put on your floorboard.
- Reach Out for Professional Help
If you have tried everything mentioned above, it’s time to call and hire a professional exterminator. They will crawl to find entry points and destroy any centipede eggs. Exterminators will also spray areas in your home with pesticides. When you can’t control the coming in of centipedes, it is best to call professionals.
How to Prevent a Centipede from Coming Back to Your Lawn?
To eliminate centipedes in your home, you first have to get rid of any pests. As we previously said, pests are food for centipedes.
Here’s how to prevent centipede from coming back to your yard:
- Keep your Home Dry
Centipedes die and dry out when they don’t stay in a moist area. So, keep your home dry and clean the basements, closets, or any easily damp area. You can also use a dehumidifier to reduce and maintain the humidity in a specific area.
Silica is an absorbent that soaks moisture away from the ground and air. Therefore, put a packet of silica in damp areas of your home and yard. You can buy silica in any store or look for it in the new shoes you have bought.
- Remove Organic Material
Remove and place organic materials, such as firewood, mulch, tarpaulins, and compost bins, away from the house. Also, consider removing any compost, leaves, and other organic materials.
The organic materials mentioned above may encourage pests and insects that are food for centipedes. Piles of organic materials also serve as a perfect sanctuary for centipedes to feed and lay their eggs.
- Close off all Entrance points
Close off all entrance points by sealing the cracks in the concrete foundation, as well as caulking the spaces around the windows and doors and the holes between the walls. This will prevent the bugs and centipedes from entering your home.
To discourage centipedes, apply weatherstripping outside your house. Check the gutter and downspouts. Clear the leaves, branches, and other materials that are blocking the water flow. Stock leaves and branches could be a potential home for centipedes too.
- Cayenne Pepper
For a natural way to discourage centipedes, try putting Cayenne pepper. Layer down a thin layer of Cayenne pepper at the entrance points, inside and out outside of your home. However, make sure that your dog and cats are away from it as Cayenne pepper can hurt them if they get too curious.
Now, you have an idea of what is a centipede and what attracts it in your household. Therefore, it is important that you keep your house and yard clean and wick away from any moisture. It is also essential to prevent a centipede infestation by removing piles of leaves, grass woodpiles, and stones in your area.
Additionally, provide good ventilation in your basement, attic, or in places where centipede crawls. Remember to seal the holes and cracks and caulk the gaps in your window and doors. Methods that require the use of chemicals only provide temporary solutions.