While the very sight of one of these creepy crawlies in enough to make you jump out of bed in fright, centipedes are not actually harmful to humans. Nor are they as terrorizing as the name leads us to believe. Contrary to popular belief, the centipedes that make their way into our houses usually don’t have a hundred legs.
They have multiple cousins, with larger species having a different number of legs and their venom being poisonous to humans, but the house centipede is fairly uncomplicated and harmless as compared to its more vicious relatives. It has only about 15 legs (kind of disappointing for the name it flaunts) and poses no threat to humans. On rare occasions, it can bite, but it’s nothing more painful than an ant bite.
So even if you have discovered a centipede in your bed, have no fear. However, you might not want to keep these creatures as pets like the Japanese do, so you’ll have to ensure that they never invade your private space again. The trick is simple: eliminate the food source that drives them indoors. Centipedes are active hunters, and they’re always on the hunt for their next prey. Once their food is gone, they disappear in search of another food source. The problem with this tactic is that centipedes feed on a wide variety of insects, and eliminating all of them might be a tough job.
Know your Enemy
To effectively get rid of centipedes, you have to know what you’re dealing with. House centipedes are known by the term Scutigera coleoptrata within the scientific community. They originated in the tropical regions of the Mediterranean expanse, as they like the warmth and humidity, but quickly adapted to survive in all sorts of atmospheres. Now, they can be found all around the world. The house centipede isn’t very big; it grows up to about 25 to 35 mm. There are up to 15 pairs of legs attached to a single body, with long antennas on top. If you look closely, you can even discern a pair of eyes, which is not a common characteristic of centipedes other than the house centipede. Their eyesight is pretty good, but it is their antennae that guide them around and help them sense their prey.
They are pretty quick, too, so it might take you a while to spot them in your room or on your bed. Their hind legs give them the ability to move around very quickly, so you might only detect a yellowish-brown streak darting across your pillow, and it will be gone before you can figure out what you just saw. Also, they are nocturnal, so you won’t get to have a good look at them when you have ample light during the day.
Centipedes are hunters, so they’re not interested in making webs or nests around your house. They also don’t carry any germs and spread no illnesses. In certain situations, it’s actually beneficial to have a few centipedes around the house. Since they eat other insects, they can keep your house clean from all other types of pests.
The catch their prey with a technique called ‘lassoing,’ and are deft at what they do, not sparing insects even up to thrice their size.
House centipedes breed in the spring season, and on average, lay 65 eggs. So if you don’t want centipedes crowding your place, you might want to act fast and get rid of the insects before they multiply out of control.
Why Are They in My House?
To get them out of your house, you need to understand what made them venture into your home in the first place. One reason is the warmth of your home. House centipedes usually flood houses in the winters, looking for a warmer, cozier environment, where they have enough to feed on. So if you see a centipede creeping around the side of your bed, know that it’s looking for a bit of heat.
Their natural habitats are damp, dark locations, and when they move indoors, they search for similar conditions, albeit warmer. If you have moisture in the house, your house can be a centipede’s, or any other insect’s, prime location to settle.
It could even be a bed bug problem. Another reason centipedes decide to move into your house is the abundance of food for them. Centipedes are carnivorous and feed on all sorts of pests. Some of the insects and pests that centipedes like to eat are spiders, worms, roaches, silverfish, flies, bed bugs, moths, and even other centipedes sometimes.
If you have an infestation of any of these insects, the chances are that the centipedes will follow. So try to find what is attracting the centipedes to your bed, and nip the problem in the bud.
How to Prevent Them from Entering Your Bed
Now that you know why they get into your house, it’ll be simpler to understand how to get them out. At the heart of it, there’s only one thing you have to do to prevent centipedes from making their way into your house; keep the moisture out. If you have moisture in your walls, it will likely invite centipedes and other insects in.
Most other insects are also attracted to your house because of the presence of a moist, damp environment since those are the conditions that they prefer living in outside as well. If you have noticed, centipedes are usually found inside bathrooms, basements, and other damp spaces.
If you manage to eliminate the moisture in your house, you will automatically do away with centipedes and their food source. Not only will you stop centipedes from making their way into your home, but you’ll also stop other insects from getting in, too.
You can get rid of the pest problem in your house by using the following methods:
Use an Air Dehumidifier
An air dehumidifier sucks the air out of the house, takes the humidity out of it, and releases it back into the house. Investing in a dehumidifier can save you tons of hassle and money that you would otherwise spend on dealing with these insects and getting pest control services every other month.
Install Bathroom Fans
Using bathroom fans can stop moisture from building up and accumulating in your bathroom. It also discourages the infestation of insects in the house, since this is often the entry point for a lot of insects. Remember, other insects and pests pave the way for centipedes to enter your home.
Seal Off Cracks
Seal off any cracks in the walls of your house to stop these critters from sneaking their way into your home. They are small and fast and can navigate narrow cracks and hollows, as can other small insects and creepy-crawlies. Sealing off cracks also prevents the cracks from becoming safe havens for centipede eggs.
How to Get Rid of Centipedes
If you spot a centipede or two in your house, you should deal with the situation immediately before they have the chance to grow older, mate, and lay eggs in your house.
Release them Outside
If you spot a sole centipede, you don’t have to kill it. It is not harming anybody, so the kind thing to do would be to capture it and release it outside in a garden or backyard, where it can thrive and not be a nuisance to you.
Poison the Centipedes
If the infestation is too grave, and there is no other option, you can poison the centipedes by using natural pesticides like boric acid or food-grade diatomaceous earth. The centipedes will die after coming into contact with the poison. Make sure to keep your pets away from this poison, though.
Pest Control Services
If the situation is out of your control, you can and should call pest control services. They will cleanse your house of all sorts of insects and pests, including the centipedes themselves. Pest control services are quick and can get a handle on the situation in a day or two, at most. They are also safe and guarantee immediate and effective results.
What is the difference between house centipedes and other centipedes?
House centipedes are unlike the regular centipedes that most people think of. The difference between house centipedes and other species is that house centipedes have 15 pairs of legs at most.
Are house centipedes dangerous?
While they might be scary to look at, house centipedes are not dangerous to humans.
How are centipedes beneficial for your house?
Centipedes eat other insects. In this way, they can be an effective form of pest control, as long as they’re not allowed to breed out of control.