Centipedes are one of the creepier creatures you can come up on in your home. While most centipedes are found outdoors, the house centipede is very comfortable all year round in your house. Despite their numerous legs and overall strange appearance, house centipedes are essentially harmless and can help control other household insect pests. However, if the numbers get out of hand, getting rid of house centipedes can become a priority.
The key feature of the house centipede is the legs. There are 15 pairs of legs on one centipede’s body, with the last pair twice as long as the body. The legs increase in size incrementally down the body, which allows this arthropod to be extremely quick and agile but prevents the legs from tangling up in each other. The body is about an inch to an inch and a half long, but can look up to four inches long with the length of the legs. The body is a light, brownish yellow with dark stripes, with banded light and dark legs.
House Centipede Behavior and Habitat
House centipedes eat other undesirable insects found in your home, like cockroaches, silverfish, carpet beetle larvae, bedbugs, beetles, spiders, and other arthropods. These insects hide most of the day in damp, dark areas of your home like underneath concrete slabs, inside cement block walls, floor drains without water traps, in or under cardboard boxes stored on concrete floors, and any damp, cool area like crawl spaces and cellars. Unlike many insects that may find their way into your home, house centipedes can readily reproduce indoors. House centipedes have “fangs” that can penetrate human skin, but rarely bite and usually only as a defense if closely handled. The bite is likened to a bee sting.
How to Get Rid of House Centipedes
As with most pests, reducing food, shelter, and water is key, since this is why the pests seek out your home.
Reducing food: You can try to deter house centipedes from setting up camp by reducing their food sources. Sticky traps can help you to monitor what types of insects are present in your home and you can then control them appropriately. If the centipedes have no food, they’ll likely try to find another home.
Reducing shelter: Cleaning up all organic debris around your home will take away the lure of your home, since all the debris provides cover for the food centipedes seek, as well as providing the damp shelter centipedes need. In your home, the centipedes usually gain access through cracks in the foundation or gaps in access points to your home, like: concrete slabs, block walls, sump pumps, and floor drains. House centipedes can slip through cracks as small as an eighth of an inch, so you must seal or block any of these access points to eliminate common hiding spots for these pests.
Reducing water: This applies to standing water, but also to humidity. Humidity makes centipedes happy, and the humid areas in your home are the places centipedes tend to be, especially if they’re cooler in temperature. Using a dehumidifier in areas you’ve seen centipedes and fixing leaky pipes or drains can help with this issue.
If the population is out of control and you don’t want to wait for these above steps to take affect, you can use insecticides to speed up your control. Any synthetic pyrethrin, like permethrin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, etc, will work to control these pests, as well as products formulated for cockroach control.
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