Oh no, a creepy crawly just darted from the cupboard when you opened the door. It moved so fast that all you could see were hundreds of legs. Then it stopped and stared at you, before running off. No one wants bugs of any kind in their home, but this one isn’t as bad as it looks. It’s a house centipede, and it’s a beneficial insect. Nevertheless, you don’t want to share your home with one. Read on, and we’ll show you how to get rid of house centipedes safely and effectively.
Table of Contents
Why Do I Have an Infestation of House Centipedes?
Centipedes don’t enter your home because you’re a poor housekeeper. For more information on what is a centipede, read this article. Centipedes need two things to survive. The first is humility because their creepy little bodies dry out quickly and they die of dehydration. The second survival necessity is something to eat.
House centipedes eat other bugs and consider the following as delicacies:
Do centipedes bite you instead of bugs? You can learn the answer here.
The house centipedes’ diet also means that you have an infestation of some other insect for them to eat. You can consider a centipede infestation as a warning that bugs that you don’t want are around.
Natural Ways and Home Remedies
Dozens of species of centipedes exist. There’s information here about the types of centipedes. Although house centipedes reside indoors, it’s possible for them to enter your home from the outside. This article more fully describes what attracts centipedes.
You can block the entrance of any centipede by:
- Sealing all cracks or holes in slabs, foundations, floorboards, window sills, and around pipes.
- Dehumidifying moist air.
- Ventilating areas like basements, crawl spaces, and any other damp and dark space.
- Determining what other insects have invaded your home and eliminating them.
These steps deprive centipedes of shelter and meals. You can learn more about how to use centipede repellents in this article.
If centipedes have entered your domain despite your efforts to keep them out, you may have difficulty getting rid of them. They won’t eat bait that’s designed to kill them.
You can try the following to get rid of centipedes:
- Catching them one at a time in a jar and relocating them outside.
- Stepping on them and vacuuming up the dead bodies.
- Placing “sticky traps” wherever you think they walk.
- Placing diffusers containing strong smelling essential oils like spearmint or peppermint in areas where you’ve seen centipedes.
Spraying tea tree oil in areas where you think centipedes are hiding has proven effective for some people. Others have found success in using hair spray to kill centipedes. Still, others insist that room freshener sprays are the quickest way to get rid of house centipedes.
Centipedes do not live in nests or colonies. When the time to reproduce comes, the females release pheromones to attract males, but they rarely have physical contact. The male weaves a little silken pouch to hold his sperm. He may leave that where the female will find it, or he may deliver it to her. Sometimes the male will tap her rear legs with his antennae to get her attention. The female inserts his gift in her reproductive organs.
She lays up to 35 eggs, which she may or may not guard. After hatching, the young are entirely on their own. It takes them approximately three years to reach sexual maturity.
How Can I Exterminate House Centipedes?
You can purchase various products that claim to be effective in killing centipedes. Centipedes are carnivores that eat only insects. They aren’t going to eat baits designed to kill them. You can try using sprays or dust in locations where you think the centipedes are entering your home.
The commercial sprays are usually chemical insecticides. Dust is manufactured from various ingredients that will kill centipedes by dehydration.
Removing house centipedes from your apartment can present a challenge. You can start by contacting your landlord, who may agree that you have a problem. The terms of your rental agreement will determine who is responsible for pest eradication.
You’ll probably have more success using the same methods to get rid of house centipedes that homeowners use. Seal any cracks that could allow pests into your apartment, especially if you’re on the ground floor. Sticky traps can catch any invaders for you.
Seeing a house centipede scuttling across your floor is bad enough, but having one crawl out of a sink drain can totally creep you out. You can run a lot of water and wash it down the drain, but that doesn’t keep its relatives away.
These suggestions can help you get rid of house centipedes in your drains and keep them away:
- Examine external drains for loose fittings, cracks, or holes. Repair any that you find. Centipedes are small and can crawl through very tiny openings.
- Centipedes can crawl through water, so make sure none of your drain pipes are filled with stagnant water. Fix any blockages that are keeping the water from draining properly.
- Check the floorboards and other areas under the sink that could provide the dark and damp environment that centipedes love. Repair any leaking pipes and replace rotted wood.
- Clean up debris, such as dead leaves, from around your property. Debris attracts the kind of insects that centipedes like to eat.
You can pour vinegar or bleach down your drains to completely remove any debris that could attract the kinds of bugs on which centipedes prey.
How Do I Remove Them?
You can remove centipedes by catching them. They are very fast, and you’ll need to be agile, but you can capture them, usually by placing a glass or jar over them. Once you get a critter in the container, keep it there by sliding thin cardboard or paper under the opening. You can then dump it outside, where you can squash it or let it go free. This article answers your questions about whether centipedes are poisonous if you touch one.
Alternatively, you can just step on them as you discover them, then sweep or vacuum up the dead bodies. You could also vacuum centipedes up alive as they scurry away from you. Be sure to empty the vacuum bag promptly, so that any that survive being sucked up don’t crawl out.
Centipedes are sometimes called a hundred leggers because of their appearance. Although most have fewer than 100 legs, some do have more.
The thousand legger is not just a giant centipede. A thousand leggers, which are millipedes, are also different from centipedes in significant ways. You can learn more about what the difference is between a centipede and a millipede in this article.
Millipedes eat dead leaves and decayed vegetation rather than eating bugs. You follow the same process to get rid of millipedes as you do to get rid of centipedes: destroy their habitat and food source.
You can get rid of the outside thousand leggers by:
- Removing the rotting vegetation that they like to eat.
- Removing the wood piles in which they like to live.
- Keeping tools and equipment placed so they can’t hide under them.
Like centipedes, millipedes like damp and dark places.
Millipedes aren’t usually found inside your home because there’s nothing there they like to eat. They’re more likely looking for hiding places.
If thousand leggers do take up residence, try these methods to evict them:
- Repair all water leaks in your pipes and drains.
- Sweep or vacuum up any that you see.
- Use a dehumidifier to reduce interior dampness.
There are pesticides you can purchase if nothing else works.
Scutigera coleoptrata is the official name of house centipedes. The best way to get rid of them is to keep them from entering. Although they prefer to live inside, and some never leave from what they deem to be a suitable home, they can survive outside.
Keep them outside by:
- Sealing every place where they could enter.
- Keeping all yard debris away from the house.
- Fixing all water leaks.
- Removing any clutter, especially in damp areas.
- Using dehumidifiers.
Scutigera coleoptrata eat insects, so exterminate any bugs that have invaded, and your centipedes will move away.
How Do I Kill Centipedes?
None of your attempts to repel house centipedes were effective, so you’re looking for ways to kill them. Baits won’t work. You can sprinkle insecticide dust in areas where they walk and wait for them to accidentally step in it.
Dust that is effective against centipedes contains desiccants. Desiccants get on the outer shells of centipedes and dry out their insides. The most common desiccant is silica.
Products containing silica include:
- Drione Dust,
- Evergreen Pyrethrin Dust.
These are not safe to use in areas where children or pets might step in them.
If you can get close enough, you can try spraying cedar oil on centipedes to kill them. You can purchase cedar essential oil online and in many retail stores. Mix several drops with water in a spray bottle. Cedar oil only kills on contact, so you have to spray it directly on the centipede’s body. Cedar oil is non-toxic, but avoid putting it full strength on your skin.
Centipede traps are glue traps, also called sticky traps. All those “hundred” legs will stick to the surface of the trap. These work with small centipedes, like house centipedes. Large centipedes just leave behind a leg or two and keep on running. Place the traps in the dark corners and damp areas where centipedes do their hunting.
As well as capturing centipedes, the traps will catch whatever insects the centipedes are preying on. If you can eliminate those insects, you won’t have to keep killing centipedes because they’ll move to a location where the prey is plentiful.
What Kills Them?
Because it’s impossible to get a centipede to sit still so you can spray it, dust and powders are easier ways to kill centipedes.
Three powdered products that are effective are:
- Borax is easy to find in any retail store that sells laundry products. Many people use it to help clean and freshen their clothes.
- Boric acid is found in the spice aisles of some grocery stores. It’s also available in drug stores.
- Diatomaceous earth. You want food-grade diatomaceous earth. It’s often used for pest control and is available online, in hardware stores, and in plant nurseries. The non-food grade is used in swimming pools and isn’t effective for getting rid of pests.
These work by drying out the centipede’s body.
Any number of products bill themselves as centipede killers. Depending on the ingredients, dust products might kill centipedes by desiccation. Some sprays will kill on contact. Despite all the claims, most pesticides kill only the bugs that the centipedes eat. Centipedes don’t eat dead insects, so whatever killed the bug won’t kill the centipede if it eats the body.
Products you can purchase online or through retail outlets include:
- D-Force Aerosol,
- Delta Dust,
- Demand CS,
- Talstar XTRA Granules (for lawns and landscaping).
Read the directions and labels carefully, as these contain ingredients that are harmful to pets and children.
Apply the commercial products in crevices, corners, and cracks. You may have to get up in the middle of the night and shine a light to see where the centipedes are. You’ll see them scatter when you light up the area.
Centipedes are insects, but they are not killed by most insecticides. Insecticides will eliminate your centipede problem because they kill the insects that centipedes eat. When there’s nothing they like to eat in your home, centipedes leave.
The most popular insecticides available to homeowners are sprays. These often include a form of pyrethroid, which is poisonous. Pyrethrum is derived from one particular species of chrysanthemums. Insecticides containing pyrethrum may be billed as organic. The organic designation does not make it less poisonous.
Pyrethroids are the synthetic versions of pyrethrum. Natural or synthetic, the poisons work by destroying the nervous system of insects. Like their pesticide cousins, insecticides rarely kill centipedes.
If you can, it’s best to get rid of house centipedes by keeping your house dry and free of the bugs that they like to eat. If centipedes do invade, you have a variety of choices for eliminating them. The best method for you is the one that will effectively get rid of the centipedes without harming your family or pets.