Do House Centipedes Eat Cockroaches? Discover the Truth Behind These Creepy Critters

House centipedes are fascinating creatures that can be found in many homes. These arthropods, with their long, flattened, segmented bodies and numerous legs, might look unnerving, but they play an essential role in controlling the population of other small arthropods and insects in your home.

One commonly asked question is whether house centipedes eat cockroaches. The answer is yes, house centipedes do feed on cockroaches, among other insects such as silverfish, firebrats, carpet beetle larvae, spiders, and small arthropods. Their presence can indicate an underlying pest problem, as they thrive in areas where their prey is abundant.

House centipedes capture their prey using a combination of pouncing and lassoing techniques, often holding several prey items at once while feeding on one. This efficient hunting method allows them to control multiple pests in the household, including undesirable cockroach populations.

Do House Centipedes Eat Roaches?

Hunting and Feeding Methods

House centipedes are known to feed on various small arthropods, including cockroaches. They capture their prey using a combination of pouncing and lassoing techniques1. The centipede’s long, barbed legs2 help to hold onto its prey, while their modified front legs deliver venom to immobilize it3.

Some key features of house centipedes’ hunting abilities include:

  • Extremely long legs for capturing and holding prey
  • Barbed legs to provide better grip
  • Modified front legs for injecting venom

Benefits of Centipedes Eating Roaches

Having house centipedes around may actually be beneficial if you have a cockroach infestation, as they can help reduce the roach population. As natural predators, they contribute to maintaining a balance within the home ecosystem.

Here’s a comparison table of house centipedes and roaches:

 House CentipedesCockroaches
AppearanceLong, slender, with up to 15 pairs of legs4Oval-shaped and flat-bodied
VenomsHave venomNo venom
Response to humansEscapeEscape or hide

In summary, house centipedes do indeed eat cockroaches, and their unique hunting methods allow them to effectively capture and immobilize their prey. Having them in your home might serve as a natural form of pest control, reducing the population of roaches and other pests.

Other Insects House Centipedes Prey On

Carnivore Diet

House centipedes are carnivorous creatures with a diverse diet. They actively hunt and eat a variety of small arthropods, including:

These insects provide essential nutrients to house centipedes, enabling them to thrive in various environments.

Predator-Prey Relationships

The presence of many house centipedes could suggest a high number of prey arthropods. In some cases, a house centipede infestation might reveal a serious pest problem. For instance, cockroaches could be abundant, providing ample food for house centipedes.

Prey InsectHouse Centipede Benefit
SpidersReduction of spider population
SilverfishElimination of potential house damage
CricketsLess noise and damage to plants
FliesLower chances of disease transmission
MothsProtection of stored clothes and fabrics
AntsPrevention of food contamination
MillipedesControl of their population
FirebratsReduction of paper and book damage
TermitesLimiting structural damage to buildings
EarwigsLess plant damage in gardens and lawns

These predator-prey relationships play a crucial role in maintaining balance in ecosystems, highlighting the importance of house centipedes in natural pest control.

House Centipedes as Natural Pest Control

House centipedes can be surprisingly helpful allies in controlling household pests. For example:

  • They feed on silverfish, firebrats, and carpet beetle larvae.
  • Cockroaches and spiders are also part of their diet.

These nocturnal predators are usually found in damp areas of basements, closets, or bathrooms. During the day, house centipedes hide in dark cracks and crevices, venturing out at night to search for insects to eat.

Let’s compare house centipedes to other natural pest control agents:

Pest Control AgentProsCons
House CentipedesFeed on various pestsMay be considered unsightly
LizardsEat insects, low maintenanceMay require specific living conditions
WaspsPredators to many garden pestsCan be aggressive and sting

In conclusion, house centipedes can be a helpful and effective natural pest control option to tackle common household problems.

House Centipedes Habitat and Behavior

House centipedes are found in various habitats, such as damp and dark environments. Commonly spotted in:

  • Bathrooms
  • Basements
  • Damp spots
  • Leaf litter

These locations provide essential moisture for their survival. Here’s some information on house centipedes’ behavior:

  • Fast runners: They can move with great speed on their 15 pairs of legs. Their agility and speed make them good predators.
  • Wall climbers: House centipedes, unlike other types, can scale walls quickly, loccating their prey with ease.

Let’s look at some specific characteristics of house centipedes:

  • Antennae: They have long, sensitive antennae to detect vibrations and locate prey.
  • Eyes: Unique in the centipede world, house centipedes have well-developed, faceted eyes for better prey detection.

Being venomous, house centipedes capture and subdue their prey using venomous glands found near their mouthparts.

To prevent house centipedes from entering your home, focus on controlling the moisture levels. Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Use dehumidifiers: A dehumidifier reduces moisture, making the environment less hospitable for centipedes.
  2. Fix water leaks: Check for leaks around pipes and faucets, as excess water creates damp spots.
  3. Seal cracks: Inspect your home and seal cracks or crevices that might allow centipedes to enter.

As creepy as they may seem, house centipedes help control other insect populations, like their prey – cockroaches. Here is a comparison table of centipedes and cockroaches:

FeaturesHouse CentipedeCockroach
HabitatDamp and dark environmentsWarm and moist spaces
Legs15 pairs of long, slender legs6 legs
Pest control effectReduce other insect populationsOften cause infestations
Bite or stingVenomous glands to subdue preyNo known venomous bites

Despite their helpful nature in controlling pests, you may want to eradicate them. Sticky traps can be used to capture house centipedes and their prey. However, remember that these centipedes are vital in controlling other pest populations and play an essential role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

Dealing with House Centipedes

House centipedes are known to eat a variety of common household pests, including cockroaches. If you notice a high number of house centipedes, it might be due to an abundance of prey such as cockroaches, carpet beetle larvae, or other insects. Here are some methods to help reduce house centipede populations and deter them from your home.

Pesticides and Pest Control
Using pesticides can be an effective way to eliminate house centipedes and their prey. However, it’s important to use them responsibly. Make sure to follow the instructions on the label, and consider hiring a professional pest control service if needed. Some pros and cons include:

  • Pros: Effective at eliminating pests, quick results
  • Cons: Can be harmful to humans and pets, requires careful handling

Dehumidifiers
One way to make your home less attractive to house centipedes and their prey is by using dehumidifiers. These pests thrive in damp environments, so maintaining healthy humidity levels can help keep them at bay. Some pros and cons include:

  • Pros: Reduces moisture, discourages pests from entering
  • Cons: Uses electricity, may require frequent maintenance to maintain efficiency

Sealing Entry Points
Check for and seal any cracks or crevices in your home that might be allowing house centipedes and their prey to enter. Regularly inspect doors, windows, and walls for potential entry points. Some pros and cons include:

  • Pros: Prevents pests from entering, no chemicals involved
  • Cons: Time-consuming, might not be possible to seal all entry points

In comparison, here is a table summarizing the discussed methods:

MethodProsCons
PesticidesEffective at eliminating pests, quick resultsHarmful to humans and pets, careful handling required
DehumidifiersReduces moisture, discourages pestsUses electricity, requires frequent maintenance
Sealing Entry PointsPrevents pests from entering, no chemicalsTime-consuming, may not be possible to seal all points

When dealing with house centipedes, it’s important to remember that not only are they predators of other pests, but they also have some distinct features that set them apart from other centipedes. For example:

  • They have 15 pairs of legs, with each leg encircled by dark and white bands
  • Their forcipules, or venomous pincers, are used for grasping and injecting venom into their prey
  • They have a long, flattened body that can be yellowish-brown, with three dark stripes on top

House centipedes originate from the Mediterranean and have become quite adaptable worldwide. They play a role in predation, helping to keep the number of common household pests in check. Choose a suitable method from the options provided to keep house centipedes under control in your home.

Footnotes

  1. https://arthropod.uark.edu/house-centipede/

  2. https://education.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/house-centipede

  3. https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/house-centipede

  4. https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/house-centipede

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – House Centipede

Many legged Beastie
Hello,
We saw this bug in the south of France (in the Gorges du Tarn region) last October. There were two of them living together in a crack behind the front door. They weren’t at all scared when the door moved. We’d love to have any information about it.
Thanks,
Emily

Hi Emily,
We have countless images on House Centipedes on our website. We receive so many requests for their identification that we always have an image posted on our homepage to facilitate our readership. House Centipedes are harmless nocturnal predators.

Letter 2 – House Centipede

my bug
Thank goodness, I finally know what those creepy crawly things are. A house Centipede. Needless to say they scared the heck out of me. We have lived in our house for 5 yrs , and I have been running from these bugs for almost three yrs.. Finally I got this pic of one and found him on your site. Im am truely relieved to find they are not harmful, just really creepy..Any way heres my pic, and thanks for the GREAT site.
Pamela

Hi Pamela,
We are thrilled to find out we have helped to squelch one of your phobias.

Letter 3 – House Centipede

Subject:  What on earth…….???????
Geographic location of the bug:  Fuerteventura Canary Islands
Date: 11/18/2017
Time: 06:13 PM EDT
Hello. We have just found a lodger in our house! We live in a semi arid desert region and the pic was taken 17.11.17.
How you want your letter signed:  Debbie

House Centipede

Dear Debbie,
This is a primarily nocturnal, predatory House Centipede.  In our opinion, they are harmless, and they will help keep your home free of Cockroaches and other unwanted arthropods.

Thats thats great – I would never harm one but would be happier with less legs!!

Letter 4 – House Centipede

Subject:  Please Identify this bug!
Geographic location of the bug:  Los Angeles, California
Date: 03/05/2018
Time: 04:48 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this in my apartment
How you want your letter signed:  Nat

House Centipede

Dear Nat,
This House Centipede is a beneficial nocturnal predator that is frequently found in homes.  We hope your released this prisoner outside.

Letter 5 – House Centipede

Subject:  Inhuman Centepede
Geographic location of the bug:  Bloomington, Indiana U.S.
Date: 08/02/2018
Time: 04:43 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I am just curious as to what this is. I found it in the stairwell outside of my kids bedroom.
How you want your letter signed:  Mista Jay

House Centipede

Dear Mista Jay,
Though this is only our second posting of a House Centipede this year, it is still one of our Top Ten identification requests.  We were amused by your sly reference to the cult film The Human Centipede, but because we try to run a family friendly site, we will not be linking to any articles on one of the most luridly gross horror films ever made.

Thank you for the information! You set my mind at ease. I apologize for the R rated reference. I could submit a more family friendly version if you wanted me to.

Heavens no.  We don’t mind the reference, and as we stated, we were amused.  We just won’t link to any reviews or articles about The Human Centipede.

 

I see haha awesome. Thank you! Again, thank you for the information. If I wanted to keep this lil dude as a pet how should I go about building a habitat for it to live?
 
As the name implies, the House Centipede has adapted quite well to living with humans.  A small terrarium with a secure lid should suit is nicely.  It will eat crickets from the pet store as well as most any insect or arthropod you introduce into the terrarium.
 

Letter 6 – House Centipede

Subject:  Identify bug and if its bite poses a health issue to humans or animals
Geographic location of the bug:  Beaumont Tx
Date: 08/12/2018
Time: 11:36 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This bug was crawling up the wall of my bathroom.  The body was a little over an inch and with it’s legs about 2 inched.  First, I would like to know what it is and if it’s bite could cause issues to humans or dogs. I have never seen this crawling creature before.
How you want your letter signed:  Debra Leger

House Centipede

Dear Debra,
This is a House Centipede, a shy nocturnal predator that would rather flee a human or pet than to attack, but we suspect a large individual might bite a human who attempted to capture one with bare hands.  Though House Centipedes are venomous, the bite is not considered dangerous and would likely cause little more than a localized reaction.  Our editorial staff is perfectly content to cohabitate with House Centipedes, and we have a cat.  In our opinion, the benefits of having a nocturnal predator that will eat Cockroaches and other unwanted Household Pests, including dreaded Blood-Sucking Conenose Bugs or Kissing Bugs and Bed Bugs, far outweighs the unlikelihood of a bite.

Letter 7 – House Centipede

Subject:  What is this scary looking thing?!
Geographic location of the bug:  Inglewood,CA
Date: 10/26/2019
Time: 05:26 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
I found this in my bathtub after 1am. It’s big and scary and has a lot of long legs. Seeing it just grossed me out so I drowned it (I think) :/
Thanks,
How you want your letter signed:  Amber

House Centipede

Dear Amber,
This is a nocturnal, predatory House Centipede.  House Centipedes are shy and they will avoid humans.  They do have a mild venom, and a large specimen might bite if carelessly handled, but it is much more likely to flee.

Letter 8 – House Centipede

Subject:  Crazy Looking Bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Pullman  Washington, USA
Date: 08/21/2021
Time: 03:52 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman :  This bug ran across my carpet floor at about 12:30 am from seemingly under my couch/side table. Its August here and we just had a big rainstorm yesterday. Also, this bug is pretty fast, its black and white sort of striped and it has lots of legs and like a crazy fan tail thing going on. No idea what this is.
How you want your letter signed:  O.S.

House Centipede

Dear O.S.,
This House Centipede is a shy, nocturnal hunter that has evolved to cohabitate with people in their homes, where they often startle the human inhabitants when they are discovered scuttling around in the dark.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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2 thoughts on “Do House Centipedes Eat Cockroaches? Discover the Truth Behind These Creepy Critters”

  1. It was evening when I saw this bug scurried across my den from the wall to my back towards the wall in front of me and went under some furniture. It was white opaque with no other color on it. It had no legs on it’s sides, I assumed they were underneath the body. I did not see any feelers in the front of it, but it was too quick to see anything more. I have never seen a bug like it. It was about 2″ long and the body was wider than most that I have seen while doing a search on the net.

    Reply

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