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Centipede Control: Protect Your Home or Business

centipede illustration


  • Centipedes are more closely related to lobsters than to insects. Since they don’t have the same waxy exoskeletons as most other arthropods, they will die if conditions are too dry.
  • Although there are many centipede species, the house centipede is the only one that tends to wander indoors.
  • Larvae begin life with four sets of legs. They grow more with each molt, reaching about 15 pairs by adulthood.
  • To escape a predator, centipedes can detach their legs. These may continue to move on their own for several minutes.


House centipedes have yellowish, flat, segmented bodies around one inch long, or about the size of a paperclip. Including their legs and antennae, these pests look closer to the length of a credit card. Adults have three dark stripes on their backs and black bands around each leg. A female centipede’s final pair of legs is twice as long as her body.

How Do Centipedes Get Inside Buildings?

Outdoors, centipedes live under logs and rocks or in damp piles of mulch and rotting leaves. The pests make their way inside through open patio doors and garages near flowerbeds and gardens. A centipede might even hitch a ride into a home in potted plants or on firewood.

Commercial spaces also encounter centipede issues. The pests might come inside manufacturing or cargo facilities through flaws in their foundations. Mortar missing between bricks or small openings where pipes enter the walls of schools or apartment buildings can allow entry as well.

Signs of Centipede Infestation

  • Sightings – The pests avoid people, but you may spot them hiding near baseboards and crevices. Seeing a centipede moving across the wall or floor is often the only evidence of a problem.
  • Other pests – Because centipedes feed on household pests such as spiders, carpet beetles, and cockroaches, large numbers of these species in your home make encountering centipedes more likely.

Knowing a few centipede habits can make spotting these pests easier. Because centipedes are nocturnal, they are most active at night or in dark places like storerooms and cellars. Moisture attracts them, so you might find one trapped in a kitchen sink or the bathtub of a hotel room.

Problems Caused by Centipedes

As predators of other pests, centipedes are often helpful. They won’t damage property, and their presence may alert you to an insect or moisture issue. While house centipedes can bite, their bites are rare, cause little pain, and can’t transmit diseases to humans. However, many people find the pest’s appearance and quick movements unnerving.

Though generally harmless, house centipedes may be a nuisance. In spaces such as warehouses and storage units, they will live inside cardboard boxes stored directly on concrete. The pests can also disturb patrons in restaurants and laundromats, especially facilities that have floor drains without water traps.

Prevention Tips

To keep centipedes from coming inside, block easy entry routes. Seal cracks in sump pump covers, concrete slabs, and walls. Install screens in drains to get rid of hiding spots and use dehumidifiers to reduce dampness in basements. Outside, keep leaf litter and mulch away from foundations.

Whether indoors or outdoors, controlling the prey that attracts centipedes is the best long-term solution. For help dealing with pest infestations, contact the experts at Western Pest Services.

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