Centipede-infected house plants can become a significant pain if left ignored. Trust us, we know! We’ve heard plenty of stories where a few house plants indoors became home to quite a large family of centipedes. Whenever these plants were watered, the centipedes would crawl out the bottom. Some even drowned, but more of them sprouted in their place.
So how do you get rid of centipedes in house plants?
You can successfully get rid of these pests without harming your plants through this simple technique:
- Mix an organic multipurpose insect killer with water
- Use the mixture to water your plants
- Do this for 2-3 days straight
Natural multipurpose insect killers do not harm the plants. They are quite potent in getting rid of all insects. The water and insect killer mixture will kill any centipedes present immediately. Repeating this process 2-3 days in a row will target all hatchlings. This prevents them from coming back.
An insect killer is a temporary solution. Given ideal living conditions, the centipedes will come back. To get rid of them forever, you need to ensure that they don’t find perfect living situations for themselves in your house.
House centipedes and outdoor centipedes
Centipedes usually live outdoors in damp areas. They find a home for themselves under barks, leaves or stones. They are mostly present in mulch outside. These are known as outdoor centipedes. They can find their way into your house looking for food. They are, however, mostly present outside.
You can easily prevent the gathering of outdoor centipedes by regularly removing foliage and compost piles. The idea is to eliminate breeding grounds for the insects.
House centipedes spend all their lives inside buildings. They are prevalent pests in the United States and also prefer damp, dark places. Damp places such as attics, bathrooms, cellars, and closets are their preferred breeding places. Centipedes lay their eggs in the same damp places, behind baseboards or beneath bark on firewood.
They do occasionally find themselves a home in some house plants as well.
How to get rid of centipedes in house plants
You can avoid centipede infestation in your house plants with these simple steps.
- Limit the amount of water you give your plants. House plants can survive on low amounts of water, as well. Before watering your plants, check the top layer of the soil. Do not water them if the soil feels wet to touch.
- Remove debris from your plants. Centipedes like dark, cold places. Adding stones and rocks to the plants look aesthetic, but it provides a breeding ground for insects.
- Kill them on the spot. Usually, they rise to the surface when you water plants. To prevent them from breeding, you should kill them then and there. You can even pick them up with a vacuum so as not to damage the plant.
- Place sticky traps all over the house. As soon as you locate one centipede, place these traps all over to catch any other that may be lurking around. Timely action can once again prevent them from breeding
- Rid your house from all of the centipede’s food sources. Get rid of other insects and spiders. Clean up all food crumbs before sleeping. Without a food source, they are bound to leave your houseplants alone.
- Use organic insect killer. If all else fails, you can always opt for an organic insect killer to deal with the problem.
Organic insect killers to kill centipedes
All garden supply stores carry insecticides. They are a useful temporary solution. Make sure to buy a natural insecticide so that you don’t end up poisoning the plant’s soil. Here are a few suggestions:
Boric acid is one of the least toxic ways of killing house centipedes. Sprinkle this in areas with a dense centipede population. You can identify these problem areas by using sticky pads. Insects ingest the powder, which poisons them. Effectively getting rid of them. Even if they don’t digest it, boric acid damages their exoskeletons. Damaged exoskeletons cause them to dehydrate very quickly. Dehydration and a damaged protective covering eventually kill them.
Using food grade Diatomaceous earth is another way to get rid of house centipedes effectively. It is a type of powder made from sediments of algae found in water bodies. It contains about 80%-90% silica. Diatomaceous earth is used as part of many chemical tests. It is also useful as an insecticide. It kills insects by drying them out. The powder allows water to pass through. This makes it safe to sprinkle on plants.
Insecticidal soap and pyrethrin concentrate
Insecticidal soap and pyrethrin concentrate also works exceptionally well. It contains pyrethrins (.24%) and potassium salts of fatty acids (20%). It is an ideal choice when dealing with all sorts of garden pests. Mix 6.4 oz of concentrate into one gallon of water. One gallon of the mixture is applicable over 500-750 sq/ft of plant surface. It is safe for use even during harvest time. You can use it every 1-2 weeks for the best results.
Ortho Home Defense MAX Insect Killer is not organic. It is, however, a good option for both indoor and outdoor plants. This product kills almost all arthropods and house invading insects. It is ready to use and can protect against centipedes for up to 12 months.
The spray is used as a barrier. It is advised to use the spray from at least 4 inches away from all baseboards, windows, and doors for ideal coverage. It prevents any centipedes from crawling back into your house.
How to choose an insecticide
Any product containing pyrethroids (cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, cypermethrin, permethrin, or tralomethrin) works just fine. These products will kill centipedes as soon as they come in contact. Products containing these ingredients can also be used as a fog or a spray.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has labeled pyrethroids and pyrethrins as potentially harmful. Make sure to follow all precautionary measures when using insecticides containing these products. Do not use more than the recommended amount and keep out of reach of children.
To limit the use of insecticides, you can close off all entry points to prevent centipedes from coming back.
Seal your house
Foundation cracks, small openings in window frames and doorways are all routes of entry for centipedes. Seal them all up. You can do this in multiple ways:
The most basic form is by weather-stripping your house. Here’s weather stripping DIY video for you:
The second step will be to caulk any holes between walls. Caulking is a material used to seal up joints and open spaces in buildings. This provides protection against insects, bugs, dust air, and water.
Finally, clean your gutters. Any stray stones and pieces of leaves stuck in the gutter provide breeding grounds for centipedes. Eventually, they will come out of drains and into your homes. Regularly have your gutter cleaned. This ensures a clean pipeline for water to flow through. It also ensures that no insects find a breeding ground in your drains
Build a protective barrier
You can use the Ortho Home Defense MAX Insect Killer to create a protective perimeter around your house. Spray this insecticide on window panes, floorboards, and doorways. For added protection, you can also spray this insecticide all over your yard. Make sure to maintain a 4-inch distance from the surface when using the spray.
You can also spread a 5-6 ft wide strip of Diatomaceous earth around your house and yard. This is only effective after you have managed to get rid of all existing centipedes. The 5-6 ft wide strip of Diatomaceous earth prevents any more centipedes from making their way into the house only.
You can also use insecticide aerosols like Lambdastar UltraCap, Cyper WSP, or Invader HPX. These aerosol sprays come with crack and crevice tips. The narrow tip is aptly named as it allows you to reach in even the smallest of cracks.
Spread a thin layer of cayenne pepper at all entry points into the house. Sprinkle the pepper both inside as well as outside. If you have pets, then be careful to avoid them for trying out the pepper. Even though it is not harmful, it will cause considerable pain to your pet.
Note that centipedes are poisonous
Centipedes are not aggressive by nature, but they may bite if provoked. Their bites are painful and very harmful. All centipedes use their venom to kill their prey. If you’ve been bitten by one, you were meant o be prey. Go to a doctor immediately. After you have recovered, follow the instructions listed above to rid your house of these pests.
Just by being clean, taking out your trash regularly, picking up your crumbs, and maintaining a dry house, you can deter house centipedes. However, if they do find a way into your home, close off their food source. Kill them wherever you see them. If they still sprout up, then use insecticides. That should get rid of them.