Centipede

centipede illustration

Centipede Control: Protect Your Home

Appearance

What Do Centipedes Look Like?
centipede
Size: The house centipede ranges from 1 to 1 1/2 inches (25 to 38 mm) in length. Including the length of their antennae and hind legs, centipedes may appear as long as 3 or 4 inches (76 to 102 mm).

Color: House centipedes are dark yellow in color with a trio of dark, longitudinal stripes on the body. Their legs are patterned with alternating dark and light stripes.

Characteristics: In general, centipedes are easily identified by their long, flat bodies and numerous legs. The black lines that run down the back of the house centipede also serve as a distinguishing characteristic. Additionally, the last pair of hind legs on an adult female are approximately twice the length of the body.

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Facts

  • Though their name implies that they have 100 legs, centipedes actually only possess a pair of legs per body segment for an approximate total of 30.
  • While thousands of species exist, only the house centipede tends to wander into homes.
  • Even though centipedes are not particularly destructive, many people fear the fast-moving and intimidating-looking creatures. As such, centipedes are considered a nuisance pest.

Food

What Do Centipedes Eat?
Centipedes feed on a range of pest insects. Their diet consists of:

Biology

Lifespan
Adult centipedes live for approximately one year. In their lifetime, female house centipedes will lay a maximum of 150 eggs in damp soil during the spring and summer.

Stages of Life
Developing by way of complete metamorphosis, the arthropods pass through an egg, larval and nymphal stage before reaching adulthood.

Immature centipedes undergo 10 instars that cause their bodies to grow to accommodate additional pairs of legs. Adults overwinter in warm, moist places.

Detection

  • Vegetation: May notice adult centipedes in gardens, around house plants or near other sources of vegetation.
  • Darkness: Often found in basements and other dark areas.
  • Moisture: Look for centipedes around sources of moisture, such as leaky pipes, drains and bathrooms.

Problems Caused by Centipedes

  • Panic: Despite the ecological benefits they provide by preying on insects and other pests, centipedes often cause psychological distress for the occupants of the homes they invade due to their disturbing appearance and darting motions.
  • Nuisance: For this reason, pest control professionals regard the arthropod as a nuisance pest and will take action to remove the creature from homes, if necessary.

Signs of Infestation

  • Food Sources: Centipedes are solitary creatures that rarely invade homes in large numbers unless the structure is already infested with other pests that the arthropods typically prey upon.
  • Moisture: Therefore, if several adult centipedes are spotted around house plants or in basements, crawl spaces and other moist locations, a different and more pressing infestation usually exists somewhere in the home.

Prevention Tips

Since centipedes are secondary pests that enter structures to pursue sources of food, prevention should center on making homes and buildings less favorable to prey like carpet beetles, flies, cockroaches and similar insects.

  • Traps: Sticky traps can help determine which pests are attracting the invading centipedes.
  • Habitats: Any sites that make ideal centipede habitats should be modified or eliminated.
  • Exclusion: Caulk cracks in concrete slabs and block walls. Seal the covers to sump pumps.
  • Moisture: Reduce humidity levels by grading the soil around the building to facilitate water movement. In particularly dire situations, the use of dehumidifiers may prove helpful.

Tips for Removal from Home

Should they be removed?
While centipedes in yards or gardens should be left alone, the ones that move indoors may require the attention of a professional pest management specialist.

Call an expert
Pest management professionals have the appropriate certifications and licenses to apply all the necessary pesticide sprays and dusts. Homeowners unfamiliar with pest management processes should not attempt to apply over-the-counter products without proper training or assistance.

Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.

Call for service: (877) 250-3857