Simple and Effective Methods for Eliminating Centipedes from Your Home

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Centipedes may not be the most welcome guests in our homes, but these many-legged critters do serve a purpose. They are known to feed on other small arthropods such as silverfish, firebrats, carpet beetle larvae, cockroaches, and spiders, which might actually help keep other pests in check. However, if you’ve noticed an increase in centipedes around your home, it’s time to take action.

Getting rid of centipedes involves making your living space less attractive to these critters and using some natural, non-toxic methods to keep them at bay. For example, one effective approach is to use essential oils like cedar and peppermint as a natural repellent. Simply mix 20-50 drops of your chosen essential oil with water in a spray bottle and saturate entry points or areas where you’ve spotted centipedes. This will create an environment they’re not fond of and help repel them from your space.

Understanding Centipedes

Common Centipede Species

  • Scutigera coleoptrata: Commonly known as the house centipede, this species is brown to grayish-yellow and has three dark stripes on top. With segmented bodies, they can grow up to 1 1/2 inches long and have 15 pairs of long, thread-like legs.(source)
  • Oklahoma Centipede: This species can vary in length from one to 12 inches, with the total number of legs varying from 10 to 100 or more. They are typically two to six inches long.(source)

Centipede Behavior and Habitat

Centipedes are predators that primarily feed on insects, spiders, and other small arthropods. They are most active at night and prefer to hide in dark, damp areas. House centipedes, for example, feed on silverfish, firebrats, carpet beetle larvae, cockroaches, and spiders. The presence of centipedes indicates an abundance of prey arthropods (source).

Dangers of Centipede Infestations

Centipedes have forcipules, which are modified legs that act as pincers for injecting venom. They use their venom to paralyze their prey and as a defense mechanism. Although rare, centipede bites can happen if they feel threatened or are handled roughly.

Comparison Table:

FeaturesHouse CentipedeOklahoma Centipede
SizeUp to 1 1/2 inches long1 to 12 inches long
Legs15 pairs5 to 50 pairs
Body ColorBrown to grayish-yellowVaries
StripesThree dark stripes on topNone
HabitatDark, damp areasDark, damp areas
DietInsects, spiders, small arthropodsInsects, spiders, small arthropods
Possibility of BitesRare but possibleRare but possible

Note: Centipede bites are generally harmless to humans, but some people may experience mild to moderate discomfort, itching, swelling, and redness in the affected area. In some cases, individuals can have an allergic reaction to the venom, requiring medical attention.

Preventing Centipede Infestations

Seal Cracks and Entry Points

One of the easiest ways to prevent centipede infestations is by sealing cracks and entry points around your home. Common areas to inspect include:

  • Foundations
  • Windows
  • Doors

For example, use expanding foam to fill large gaps and weatherstripping for windows and door frames.

Reduce Moisture and Humidity

Centipedes thrive in damp environments. To control their presence, focus on reducing moisture and humidity in places like:

  • Basements
  • Bathrooms
  • Closets

Using a dehumidifier can help in maintaining an ideal humidity level below 50%. Regularly check and fix any leaks in plumbing and remove standing water.

Proper Storage of Firewood and Organic Debris

Storage of firewood and organic debris plays a crucial role in centipede prevention. Some best practices include:

  • Storing firewood off the ground and away from your home
  • Regularly clearing leaf litter, dead plants, and mulch from the perimeter

These measures help in eliminating their hiding spots and potential food sources like spiders, roaches, and silverfish.

Maintain a Clean and Clutter-Free Environment

A clean and clutter-free environment can help in preventing centipede infestations. Some essential tips include:

  • Vacuum and dust regularly, targeting areas like baseboards and corners
  • Keep furniture and items off the floor to minimize hiding places

For natural ways to repel centipedes, consider using peppermint oil or vinegar in your cleaning routine. By performing these tasks, you are not only keeping centipedes at bay but also other pests like bed bugs, cockroaches, and millipedes.

Sealing cracks and entry pointsEffective in keeping pests outMay require some DIY skills
Reducing moisture and humidityMakes the environment less attractiveDehumidifiers may increase energy usage
Proper storage of debrisEliminates hiding places and foodRequires regular maintenance of the yard
Clean and clutter-free spacePrevents various pests, not only centipedesRequires regular cleaning and organization

Centipede Control Methods

Using Mechanical Traps

One effective way to control centipedes is through the use of mechanical traps. Sticky traps, for example, are non-toxic and can be placed in areas where centipedes are frequently spotted, both indoors and outside. They are simple to set up and easily catch house centipedes, as well as other nuisance insects.

Pros of using mechanical traps:

  • Non-toxic
  • Easy to set up
  • Can be used both indoors and outdoors

Cons of using mechanical traps:

  • Might require frequent replacement
  • May not be as effective on larger infestations

Applying Insecticides and Chemical Sprays

Another approach is using insecticides or chemical sprays. These can help you target specific areas where centipedes are known to be present and reduce their populations. Be sure to carefully follow instructions on the product label and consult a professional exterminator if you’re unsure about the proper application.

Pros of using insecticides and chemical sprays:

  • Can target specific areas
  • Effective in reducing centipede populations

Cons of using insecticides and chemical sprays:

  • Chemical exposure risks
  • Potential harm to non-target organisms

Comparison Table: Mechanical Traps vs. Insecticides and Chemical Sprays

Mechanical TrapsNon-toxic, easy to set up, versatileMay require frequent replacement
Insecticides/SpraysTargets specific areas, effectiveChemical exposure risks, potential harm

Seeking Professional Exterminators

For larger centipede infestations, or if you’re not comfortable tackling the problem yourself, consider seeking the help of a professional exterminator. Hiring a professional pest control services can effectively handle centipede infestations. The cost of hiring a professional exterminator may be higher, but the results are generally more reliable.

Pros of hiring a professional exterminator:

  • Expertise in eradicating centipedes and other pests
  • Reliable and effective solutions

Cons of hiring a professional exterminator:

  • Higher cost compared to DIY methods

Overall, choosing the right method for centipede control depends on the severity of the infestation and your comfort level.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. 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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20 Comments. Leave new

  • Aren’t they always under the pillow or somewhere in the bed! Good luck with going to sleep!

  • I just found one of these in my bed when I turned the covers down for the night. It has been raining a lot lately here in Vermont. Is lots of rain likely to drive them inside? Where one is found outside of their normal habitat, are more likely to be found? Is there any kind of group communication as with ants?

  • I found one of these in my bed when I went to turn down the covers night before last. The bedrooms are on the second floor of the house. Could/would the rain drive them inside? We have had a lot of rain in Vermont over the past couple of weeks and non stop moderately heavy rain for hours the day I found the centipede in my bed. Where there is one soil centipede outside of its normal habitat, are there likely to be more? Do they have a way of communicating with one another — like ants?

    • We suspect this was the result of an accidental introduction. We don’t know of any studies on centipede communication.

  • found what you describe as a soil centipede in my bathtub this morning. Cannot imagine how it got there unless through the plumbing? It was not there when I took my shower the previous morning. Long, many legs, reddish color. Moves much as a snake does with that slithering motion looping its body around sideways. Active.

  • Sue from VA Beach
    January 8, 2016 7:00 am

    I just found one of these on my pillow when I went to make the bed this a.m. Seems odd to me I’m seeing several posts across the internet that has these on or near beds. I’ve captured him and he’s currently in a little jar… wish I knew where to take him for a definitive answer on what he is. I just came back from Guam a month ago and hope I didn’t bring anything back!

  • Awesome!

  • Pretty cool. I guess why do they glow, aren’t them all blind?

  • I am being driven crazy. I have not been able to positively identify these things in the pics. I think scabies mites??? Seem there are to many

  • i found one in my bathroom I scoped him or her up and put him or her out side then I finshed my busness im in texas so i guess ther not just in calforna i hope thy dont come in pairs

  • I live in PA and found one of these in a second floor bathroom. Scared me when I noticed it moving as I thought it was some grass I brought in from when I was pulling weeds.

  • Just spotted one exactly like this in North Cornwall (Tintagel). Noticed it at night with no lights by the bioluminesence as I dislodged it while climbing. Never seen a reddish centipede like this before (slow moving) that also creates momentary bioluminesce down the whole body as well as secreting glowing fluid splashes.

  • I had a glowing centipede/millipede on my wrist last night when half asleep in bed. I thought it was my watch but realised I had taken that off and it was on the wrong wrist. Spooky. No photo unfortunately.

  • i found one named Xaobar in my bedroom hes really nice and when we were done talking i just put him under my bed cause thats wehre he wanted to go

  • I found one today when I was clearing some leaves. I picked it up and let it crawl around on my hand and then put it in the woods under the leaves there. Seemed rather harmless.

  • How can we get rid of these insects

  • Ben C. Naylor
    October 5, 2022 4:31 pm

    Just saw a glowing dot in a N. Devon Lane close to South Molton. It turned out to be one of these centipedes that was being attacked by a rain beetle. It produced a circular patch of white light about a cm in diameter. I thought it may be the beetle but that wasn’t a glowbug/glow worm.
    I found a reference to Geophilomorph centipede on the glow worm website and followed a few searches to here.
    I’m a country born and bred 60 yr old and this is the first time I have ever seen this creature.
    By the time I had fetched my camera the beetle and centipede were gone.
    I’ll be poking every tiny centipede now see if it glows.

  • Tony Poulter
    April 9, 2023 7:04 pm

    Hello my dog disturbed one of these small centipedes on a November night in leaf litter in a small wood near Gawcott Buckinghamshire the whole of its body was glowing as it writhed. On first sighting it, the way it was moving I thought it might be a worm like small earth worm, but turning my torch on it I found it to be a centipede. I had no idea we had these in the UK.


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