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How To Get Rid of Centipedes

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Centipede on top of sink drain.

Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 06/28/2024

Many homeowners dislike having any insects or arthropods in the home and are very interested to know how to get rid of centipedes. Centipedes usually live in damp areas. Indoors, this may mean basements and closets or floor drains. Outdoors, you’ll often find them in logs and piles of leaf litter or under stones or wood.

Below, we’ll offer some details on centipedes to give you a better understanding of these creatures, and outline a few options for getting rid of centipedes in your home.

What You Need to Know about Centipedes

Scientists have identified over 3,000 types of centipedes, and according to Live Science, there may be as many as 8,000 types on earth. Centipedes aren’t actually insects; they’re a type of creature called an arthropod. While they do use venom to catch their prey, most have fangs that are too small to pierce human skin, so you don’t need to worry too much about centipede bites. The Florida blue centipede in the Southeastern U.S. is the exception, as its bite can cause a reaction like a bee sting.

Some species of centipede can live a very long time—up to 10 years. Females will lay 15–60 eggs at a time, usually in the soil or rotten wood, but other than for the purposes of reproducing, centipedes don’t form nests that they return to each day.

As carnivores, centipedes are predators, and they may actually serve a beneficial purpose in or around your home in terms of pest control. For example, house centipedes may eat roaches, flies, silverfish, and even termites. Additionally, centipedes don’t live in colonies like ants or bees do, so spotting a single centipede is no reason to assume large numbers of them are lurking in the walls.

Steps to follow
To completely get rid of centipedes, you’ll also want to eliminate the conditions that make a centipede infestation possible. Follow these simple steps to clear your home of these many-legged pests.

Centipedes are unlikely to infest your home in large numbers, so killing or otherwise eliminating individual adult centipedes is worth your time. If you’d prefer not to simply squish them with a shoe, you can buy sticky traps made for general insect use and place them near baseboards or in corners.

Additionally, you can always relocate them outside. Centipedes don’t move very quickly, so put a glass or jar over the centipede, slide a piece of thick paper over the rim, and take the creature outdoors. Remember, centipedes kill nuisance insects, so consider removing them from your home instead of killing them.

If centipedes keep getting in, you can use a natural or synthetic insecticide to create a barrier that the creatures will have to cross to get inside. There are chemical sprays and dusts that are approved for indoor use, but those will depend on your comfort level, particularly if you have children or pets around the home. Synthetic pesticides containing pyrethoids will kill centipedes on contact.

Outdoors, natural pesticides like diatomaceous earth and boric acid can be sprinkled around, but make sure to do your research to find out whether they will negatively affect any plants located around your home. Many natural pesticides work by dehydrating anything they touch, and you don’t want to accidentally kill any flowers or shrubs.

For large or tricky centipede problems, consider hiring a highly regarded pest control service. These professionals will not only help eliminate the existing problem; they’ll also help you with the next step to prevent centipedes from returning.

There are plenty of things you can do to make your home and yard less centipede-friendly.

  • Use weatherstripping around doors and windows to keep centipedes from getting in. Caulk or expanding foam can also help plug any gaps or cracks around plumbing or wiring that serve as potential entrance points.
  • Get rid of any other insect infestations that the centipedes might be feeding on.
  • Reduce humidity or areas of excess moisture in your home. Mop up spills, use a dehumidifier, and fix any leaky plumbing.
  • Remove piles of dead leaves or other organic debris from your lawn and store firewood and mulch away from the sides of your home.
  • Remember that centipedes prefer damp conditions, so fix any areas of your home or yard with poor drainage.

Pesticide use to control centipedes is a temporary fix, so use these prevention methods to make your home a less appealing place for centipedes to live. Our recommended pest control companies, Terminix and Orkin, will treat for centipedes as part of a general pest control plan. Their technicians will help identify and seal possible entry points as well as make recommendations for making your home less hospitable to centipedes.

FAQ About Getting Rid of Centipedes

What keeps centipedes away?

To get keep centipedes away from your home, clean and dry any damp areas of your house such as your basement, bathroom, or attic. In addition, ensure that you handle any insect infestations that may serve as food for centipedes.

Are you supposed to kill house centipedes?

No, you don’t need to kill centipedes in your house. Centipedes kill nuisance insects and they generally do not live in colonies, so consider removing them from your home rather than killing them.

Why do I suddenly have centipedes in my house?

Areas with a potentially high levels of moisture such as your basement, kitchen, or bathroom may attract centipedes. Keep these areas dry to discourage centipedes in the home.

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