Creepy looking insects, centipedes generally reside outdoors under tree bark, leaves, boards, and stones. However, they frequently enter homes to cause inconvenience. In fact, centipede infestation is one of the most common indoor pest problems facing homeowners in America today.
Often, it can be hard to confirm or rule out a centipede infestation in a house. The reason is that these crawlers generally stay out of sight. Additionally, centipedes share a lot of physical characteristics with millipedes and can be easily mistaken for the latter.
Therefore, it is important for you to understand the distinct physical features of centipedes, what they eat, the things that attract them to your house, and how they enter your home before you find out how to get rid of centipedes naturally. Let’s begin.
The physical characteristics of a centipede
As a layman, it is okay for you to think of centipedes as insects. However, they are not that. Instead, centipedes are arthropods, a species of invertebrate animals with segmented bodies, legs paired together, and exoskeletons. Even the bravest people can get creeped out by the appearance of centipedes.
In terms of physical features, centipedes are tiny bodies sized between 3 to 6 cm. The color of centipedes is either brow or gray with bluish or purple-colored strips; they also feature fifteen long striped legs pairs. The size of the final pair of legs can be twice as much as the length of the body. This is what gives centipedes a creepy outward appearance.
There are thirty legs on an adult centipede; the arthropod is born with sixteen legs which increase in number with every molting or as the centipede ages. You can use the leg count to determine the approximate age of a centipede and distinguish a fully-grown centipede from a young one. The average life of a house centipede, type of centipedes that are most likely to enter and reside in your home, is between three and seven years.
An interesting thing about centipedes is that they move extremely fast and can lift their bodies on long legs. This allows them to get from one place to another within seconds. This makes the task of getting rid of the centipedes in your house tough.
What do centipedes feed on/eat?
Why is it important to find out what centipedes feed on or eat? Because it will help you determine the likelihood of a centipede infestation in your house.
The first thing to get clear about centipedes is that they are predators by nature. This means that they are likely to feed on the other pests that live in your home. These pests include fleas, flies, moths, termites, silverfish, spiders, and cockroaches.
Where do centipedes look for these pests? In your basement, inside your sheds, and on the walls of your house. If you find a centipede in your house, there is a good chance of another insect infestation in your home. Typically, centipedes take their time before pursuing their prey. However, since these arthropods are active throughout the day, you can come across them at any time of the day.
If you’re serious about preventing or getting rid of the centipedes in your home, then you must first get rid of their food source in your house. Find out the insect infestation you have in your house and then get down to work.
Centipedes can often enter a home from the backyard where they arrive in search of food. Often, the centipedes will accidentally enter a house if they find food near its exterior walls. While centipedes can feast on all the pests mentioned above, they prefer creatures with soft bodies such as worms and spiders.
Therefore, if you find worms or spiders in your house, then you should immediately perform a quick inspection of your house for a potential centipede infestation. The sooner you deal with the centipede infestation in your house, the better it will be for you.
The things that attract centipedes to your house
If you find a centipede in your home, there is a good chance that many more roaming every nook and corner of your house. The best thing that you can do to prevent this is by keeping your house clean and free from all kinds of pests.
Like any other insect that enters a home, centipedes are attracted to certain things that make them pay a visit to the house. All the things that can attract a centipede to your home are mentioned below:
Lots of water or moisture
One thing that centipedes don’t like is drought. This is because they are moisture pests that thrive in areas that are humid, damp, and wet. Therefore, if you live in a waterlogged or damp area, then there is a good chance of a centipede infestation in your house.
The areas in a house that are most likely to provide the ideal conditions for a centipede infestation are the bathrooms, the kitchen, and the basement. Unlike other bugs, centipedes don’t hold in moisture. Therefore, they need to find sources of moisture to stay hydrated and alive.
This means that you can prevent a centipede infestation in your home by keeping your home, especially the areas mentioned above, as dry as possible. Some of the things that you can do to avoid dampness and moisture in your house include:
- Fixing any water leaks in your house
- Keeping your gutters in good shape so they do not break and cause moisture
- Cut tree limbs or trim bushes to prevent moisture around your home after the rain
If your house is infested by pests that centipedes feed on, then you can expect a home visit from these creepy crawlers anytime soon. We’ve already detailed the different types of pests that centipedes feed on. Therefore, if there is any sign of these pests in your house, then you should be prepared for dealing with a centipede infestation there. In addition to eliminating the food source of centipedes from your home, you must also ensure that your yard does not have any ornamental plants and vegetation; these are plants that the food source of centipedes feed on.
The third and final thing that can attract centipedes to your home is harborage. Often, centipedes will enter your yard and roam around your foundation walls in search of this. There are several different forms of harborage that can attract centipedes to a house. These include the following:
- Overgrowth such as tall grass and weeds. These are the perfect playground for pests. This is the best way to welcome centipedes in your home if that is what you want. If not, then make sure to keep the area around your home neat and free from any overgrowth
- A woodpile. For a variety of creatures, this is the perfect place to hide and stay undetected
- Any toys that are temporarily left outside can be a great resting place for a range of pests
- The appliances, tools, and materials used in construction and home decoration that are left outside in the yard
- Items that lay on the grass and block the sun from getting through can serve as a harborage for pests. These can include temporary items such as leaf litter and leaf piles as well
These are some of the main things that can attract centipedes to your house to ultimately cause a centipede infestation. If you want to avoid this, then make sure your house and backyard is free of or has a limited presence of water/moisture and the above-mentioned food source and harborage that attract centipedes to a home.
How centipedes can enter your home
Now that you know what centipedes look like, what things they eat/feed on, and the things that attract them to a house, you need to find out how these crawling pests can enter your home. Fallen leaves and the trees in a yard are where centipedes typically reside.
However, they will enter a home, especially in the colder months, in search of warmth and food. How do centipedes enter a house? They enter it through cracks in the home’s foundation, from the holes in the toilet, or through the gaps in the windows or doors. Therefore, you should pay special attention to these areas in your home to prevent centipedes from entering your home and causing a centipede infestation there.
The natural ways to get rid of centipedes in your house
If you cannot prevent centipedes from entering your house, then the next best thing to do would be getting rid of the centipedes in your house immediately or as soon as possible. While there are several chemical-based products to get rid of centipedes, this can put the health and safety of your family at risk.
Therefore, we would recommend that you try the natural ways of getting rid of centipedes in your house before turning to the chemical-based solutions for help. So, how to get rid of centipedes naturally? The following are 10 tried and tested ways of eliminating centipedes that may enter your house.
Use a dehumidifier
As mentioned earlier, centipedes love and thrive in humid conditions. Therefore, one of the best ways to prevent a centipede infestation in your house is by using a dehumidifier in all the damp places of your home. Additionally, get rid of excess moisture in your bathroom by turning on the exhaust fan.
By reducing humidity inside your house, you will not only deter centipedes from entering your house, but you will also keep other pests such as ants and roaches away from home. This is because these pests are known to enter homes during the dry season in search of a water source.
Use cayenne pepper
There are many natural ways to repel centipedes; one of them is using cayenne pepper. The natural compound in peppers like capsaicin produces a fierce heat that acts as a natural repellant against bugs which includes centipedes.
This heat or chilly sensation produced by cayenne pepper is something that a centipede must avoid at all costs; this is its natural instinct. Therefore, you can keep centipedes away from your home by sprinkling cayenne pepper at all the potential entry points for the centipede into your home.
Block all entry points
One of the best things you can do to keep centipedes away from your house is by blocking all the potential entry points for them. To do this, seal any cracks in the concrete walls and the foundation. Additionally, use a window screen to cover the floor drains in your basement and eliminate the gaps in your windows and doors. All this will help you to keep centipedes from entering your home in the first place.
Use boric acid
Another natural way to get rid of the centipedes in your house is by using boric acid. In fact, using boric acid might be the most effective way to kill centipedes naturally. The best thing about this method to get rid of centipedes is that boric acid can be bought easily from a hardware shop.
Additionally, there is no danger to the health of your kids and pets as boric acid is non-toxic in nature. So, you can sprinkle boric acid in the different areas of your home without any fear. As soon as the centipede comes into contact with the sprinkled boric acid, it will ingest it. This will cause dehydration in the centipede which will ultimately lead to its death.
Use sticky traps
Using sticky traps is another effective way of getting rid of the centipedes in your house. Place these traps in the corners of your home along the floorboards. These are the places in your home where centipedes are most likely to hunt for food so your chances of capturing them here with a sticky trap are bright. In addition to centipedes, the sticky traps will capture the pests that they feed on. This way you will kill two birds with one stone and keep your home pest-free.
Use an insect catcher
Often, centipedes will hang around the ceiling in your house. If you fear that these hanging centipedes may fall on you when you’re sitting, then you can place an insect catcher right below the ceilings in your home to capture any centipedes that may fall down.
Another natural way to kill centipedes is by using diatomaceous earth (DE). A naturally occurring protective powder that causes no harm to humans, DE comprises of thousands of extremely small fossilized sea-shells. This makes it a natural insecticide that can effectively kill centipedes; DE scorches or desiccates centipedes to scuff their exoskeleton and cause the moisture they hold to escape. This ultimately kills the centipedes.
To use DE to eliminate the centipedes in your home, simply sprinkle the powder across all corners of your home. While DE is harmless to humans and pets, make sure to wear a respirator or mask when applying the powder to not breathe it in.
Eliminate the food source
Centipedes enter your house in search of food and water. Therefore, you can keep them away from your home by eliminating the source of food and water for centipedes in your home. This means eliminating the water/moisture in your home as well as pests such as cockroaches, spiders, worms, bed bugs, moths, etc. that may be present inside your home. Find these sources of water and food for centipedes and then eliminate them.
Use soap spray
Using soap spray is another effective way of getting rid of the centipedes in your house. You can create a natural centipede repellant by mixing one-part water with one-part soap and then load the mixture into a spray bottle.
This is one of the best ways to get rid of centipedes as soap and water are items that are easily available in any home. The soap spray will kill the centipedes in your house by dehydrating them. The exoskeleton of a centipede is covered by oils and wax; this is removed by the soap spray to allow the water inside the centipede to escape. This leads to the dehydration and death of the bug.
The final way to get rid of centipedes naturally is by using cedar oil. A natural insecticide, cedar oil causes suffocation and osmotic dehydration in centipedes; another way that cedar oil kills a centipede is by homogenizing its body fats.
As seen above, there are several natural ways of eliminating or getting rid of the centipedes in your home. Most of these methods are natural remedies that involve the use of products easily available at home. Hopefully, now you understand how to get rid of centipedes naturally.