Centipedes are fascinating creatures that often find their way into our homes and gardens. These arthropods are usually drawn to damp, dark environments, which provide them ideal conditions for hunting their prey. If you’ve encountered a centipede lurking in your bathroom or basement, you might be curious about what attracted it there in the first place.
Your home can offer many hiding spots for centipedes to thrive. They’re typically attracted to areas with an abundance of insects, which make up their primary diet. By understanding what draws centipedes inside, you’ll be better equipped to prevent them from invading your living space.
One thing to keep in mind is that centipedes are nocturnal hunters. They prefer to stay out of sight during the day, hiding in cracks and crevices, only coming out at night to search for food source. So, if you want to deter them from your home, it’s crucial to minimize hiding spots and control insect populations.
Centipedes: An Overview
Centipedes are fascinating arthropods that come in various shapes and sizes. With a multitude of species worldwide, these creatures exhibit unique characteristics. In this brief overview, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of centipedes.
Generally, centipedes are known for their long, flattened bodies and having one pair of legs on each body segment. You may think their name implies 100 legs, but the actual number varies depending on the species. Some centipedes can have as few as 10 legs, while others may have 100 or more.
The most distinct feature of centipedes is their venomous jaws. They use these to capture and eat insects and other small animals. Don’t worry, for most species, their venom isn’t harmful to humans. Additionally, these creatures have eyes that help them navigate their environment, making them efficient predators.
Some key characteristics of centipedes include:
- Long, flattened bodies
- One pair of legs on each body segment
- Venomous jaws for hunting
- Eyes for navigation
Centipedes prefer damp and dark places, which provide an ideal habitat for them. Commonly found in basements, closets, bathrooms, or under stones and logs, they often come out at night to search for food. Moreover, centipedes are fast runners, enabling them to catch prey effectively.
To sum up, centipedes are intriguing arthropods, with many species, unique features like venomous jaws and numerous legs. These amazing creatures, though often misunderstood, play a vital role in maintaining our ecosystem by keeping insect populations in check. So next time you encounter a centipede, take a moment to appreciate these amazing creatures!
What Attracts Centipedes?
Centipedes are attracted to environments that cater to their basic needs for survival. Here are some factors that contribute to making an area more appealing to these creatures:
Food: Centipedes feed on a variety of small insects and pests. If you have a home that harbors ants, spiders, or other small insects, it can be an attractive spot for centipedes.
Moist and Damp: Centipedes thrive in moist and damp surroundings. This is because they need to maintain a certain level of humidity to stay alive. You might find them in areas like basements, bathrooms, or around plumbing leaks.
To avoid creating a centipede-friendly environment, you can:
Keep your home clean and free of clutter that might attract small insects.
Monitor and fix any plumbing leaks or water damage.
Use a dehumidifier to manage humidity levels, especially in damp areas.
Dark and Warm: Centipedes prefer dark, warm, and hidden spots. They usually seek out areas behind furniture, under stones, or in wood piles.
Humid and Prey-Rich: A humid environment with an abundance of prey is ideal for centipedes. You may see them more frequently in locations that offer them plenty of insects to feed on and suitable hiding spots.
As you can see, providing a clean, dry, and well-ventilated living space can help discourage centipedes from invading your home. Remember, if you do spot a centipede, understand that they are generally harmless and can even help reduce other unwanted pests in your living space.
Common Areas Where Centipedes Thrive
In order to understand what attracts centipedes, it is important to know the common areas where they thrive, both indoors and outdoors. Centipedes prefer moist and dark environments, so they are often found in basements, bathrooms, and crawl spaces.
Inside your home, centipedes are commonly found in the following areas:
- Basements: These spaces are usually damp and dark, perfect for centipedes to thrive. They are also often undisturbed, which makes it a safe hiding place.
- Bathrooms: The humidity and frequent water presence in bathrooms create an ideal environment for centipedes. They can hide in cracks and crevices around fixtures.
- Crawl Spaces: If your house has an unsealed crawl space, centipedes may enter through cracks or openings in search of a moist environment.
To prevent centipedes from invading your home, take the time to seal any cracks or crevices and maintain a clean, dry living space.
Centipedes are also attracted to certain outdoor areas, particularly those that provide them with shelter, moisture, and warmth. Here are a few examples:
- Mulch and Leaf Piles: These create a warm, moist habitat that is attractive to centipedes, offering protection from predators and an abundant source of prey.
- Cracks and Crevices: Whether in foundations, walls, or rocks, these small spaces provide shelter and a hiding place for centipedes.
- Windows and Doors: Centipedes may use gaps around windows and doors as entry points into your home if they can find them.
To reduce the chances of centipedes taking up residence in your outdoor areas, consider removing excess vegetation, debris, and sealing up cracks. A well-maintained yard can significantly decrease the likelihood of attracting centipedes.
Centipedes and Their Prey
Centipedes are fascinating creatures that play a crucial role in controlling insect populations. They are carnivorous and feed on a variety of small insects and arthropods. Some common prey for centipedes include:
- Bed bugs
These invertebrates are attracted to areas where their prey is abundant. Often, you can find centipedes in damp, dark spaces like basements, closets, and bathrooms.
As a natural predator, centipedes help maintain a balance in the ecosystem by keeping the numbers of these pests in check. This can be beneficial for you, as a homeowner, since they can prevent infestations and damage caused by insects like termites or cockroaches.
There’s a table below which compares some of the common centipede prey:
|Insects||Varies||Gardens, homes, forests||Broad category|
|Spiders||Small – large||Homes, gardens, fields||Arachnids, not insects|
|Roaches||Medium||Homes, buildings, damp areas||Considered pests|
|Silverfish||Small||Homes, damp areas||Can damage paper and fabrics|
|Flies||Small||Everywhere||Can carry diseases|
|Cockroaches||Medium||Homes, buildings, damp areas||Considered pests|
|Mice||Small||Homes, fields, forests||Rodents, can cause damages|
|Rats||Medium||Homes, fields, forests||Rodents, can cause damages|
|Crickets||Small||Gardens, homes, fields||Can cause damage to plants|
|Termites||Small||Homes, wood structures||Can cause significant wood damage|
|Bed bugs||Small||Homes, hotels, furniture||Feed on human blood|
Remember that centipedes can be beneficial for pest control, but some species may have venom that can cause discomfort or pain if they bite. So, it’s essential to handle them with care or seek professional help when needed.
Natural Habitats of Centipedes
Centipedes are quite fascinating creatures, and understanding their natural habitats can help you predict where they might be found. These little critters prefer environments that offer them shelter and plenty of prey.
When it comes to their preferred living conditions, soil plays a crucial role. Centipedes love burrowing into the earth, often residing in rich, damp soil that is full of organic materials. They can also be found nestled under rocks and logs, where they can hide from predators and the elements.
Considering your outdoor spaces, centipedes might be attracted to certain parts of your yard. In the warmer months, particularly summer, these creatures can often be spotted amidst leaf litter or near plants that provide enough shade to shield them from the heat. For example, a pile of leaf piles or decaying bark would make an irresistible home for these arthropods.
During the rest of the year, centipedes prefer cool and moist environments. They can be found in the outdoors tucked away in dark, damp corners, or even in the deep crevices of logs and fallen branches.
Centipedes’ coloring, which tends to be dark brown, helps them blend perfectly in their surroundings, camouflaging them from potential predators.
Here’s a quick comparison table to summarize their habitat preferences:
|Soil||Damp, rich||Garden beds, compost|
|Rocks||Shaded, moist||Rock piles, garden rocks|
|Logs||Dark, damp||Fallen trees, wood piles|
|Leaf litter||Cool, moist||Garden leaf piles|
|Plants||Shaded, moist||Hostas, ferns|
So when you’re out and about, these are some of the environments where you might encounter these intriguing little creatures. Staying familiar with their preferred habitats can help you better understand and appreciate centipedes in your outdoor world.
Centipedes in Different Seasons
During winter, centipedes prefer to seek shelter in warm, damp areas. Your home might become an attractive location for them if they can find suitable hiding places. They are drawn to:
- Basements or crawlspaces, as these areas are typically warm and offer protection from the cold.
- Bathrooms, as they provide humidity and moisture.
- Kitchens or pantries, where food crumbs might occasionally be found.
To reduce the chances of centipedes entering your home in winter, keep these areas clean and well-ventilated.
As temperatures rise in spring, centipedes become more active outdoors and may still be attracted to your home. In addition to the indoor spaces mentioned above, they could venture into:
- Gardens, where they can find sufficient food sources such as insects and other small creatures.
- Mulched or wooded areas, which offer a moist and shady environment.
Maintaining a tidy garden and removing potential hiding spots will reduce their likelihood of coming close to your home. Keep in mind that centipedes are beneficial in controlling insect populations, so they can be useful to have in your outdoor spaces.
Remember, keeping your home free of excessive moisture and food debris will help discourage centipedes from settling in both during winter and spring.
Preventing and Controlling Centipede Infestation
To prevent centipede infestations in your home, consider the following tips:
- Keep your home dry by fixing any leaks or moisture issues, as centipedes thrive in damp environments.
- Seal any cracks, gaps, or openings in your home’s foundation or walls, to create a barrier against centipedes.
- Remove clutter and debris from around your home, ensuring that centipedes have fewer places to hide.
- Use sticky traps in areas where centipedes may enter your home, such as near doorways, windows, or in basements.
When it comes to controlling an existing centipede infestation, there are several options to choose from:
- Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder that can be sprinkled around the areas where centipedes have been spotted. This powder damages the exoskeleton of the centipede, eventually causing it to dehydrate and die.
- Peppermint oil can be mixed with water and sprayed around entry points or areas where centipedes have been seen. This natural repellent has a strong scent that deters centipedes from entering your home.
- Insecticides can be used as a last resort if other methods are not effective. Keep in mind that some insecticides may have harmful side effects for humans and pets, so be sure to read and follow the instructions carefully.
- If the infestation is severe and you’re unable to control it on your own, it may be necessary to call a pest control professional or exterminator for assistance.
Using a combination of these methods can help you effectively prevent and control centipede infestations in your home. Remember, consistency is key when trying to eliminate these pests, so be sure to maintain a clean and dry environment in your home at all times.
Centipedes and Their Reproduction
Centipedes find shelter in various places. They prefer environments with moisture and organic materials where they can hide and catch their prey. For example, they might seek shelter under rocks, logs, and piles of leaves.
Their reproduction process begins when they lay eggs. Some species lay eggs in the soil, while others carry them around until they hatch. After laying eggs, centipedes go through several larval stages until they mature. Here’s a brief overview of their life stages:
- Eggs: Centipedes lay eggs in protected environments with moisture.
- Larvae: Newly hatched centipedes have fewer legs than adults and undergo several molts to grow and develop additional legs.
- Adults: Mature centipedes reproduce and continue the life cycle.
As you can see, centipedes’ life stages revolve around finding proper shelter, reproduction, and growth. By understanding their habits, you’ll be better prepared to manage and prevent centipedes in your own home or garden.
Signs of Centipede Infestation
Centipedes are nocturnal creatures, meaning they’re active during the night. If you start noticing them in your home, there’s a chance you might have an infestation.
Their presence indicates a few possible issues:
- Moisture problems: Centipedes prefer damp and dark environments. Check for leaking pipes, and eliminate any standing water in your home.
- Access points: These pests can enter your home through cracks and gaps. Seal any openings in your property to prevent their access.
- Other pests: Centipedes feed on various insects, so if you have a centipede problem, you might have another pest issue they’re attempting to control.
Keep an eye out for the following signs of an infestation:
- Activity at night: Since centipedes are nocturnal, you may observe them crawling around your home in the dark.
- Visible damage: Although they don’t cause significant physical damage, their presence can be unsettling and could lead to allergic reactions in some people.
To eradicate centipedes from your home, consider these methods:
- Dehumidify: Reduce humidity levels in your home by using a dehumidifier or fixing moisture issues.
- Pest control: Seek professional help for current infestations and prevention strategies, including pesticide treatments and thorough inspections.
- Cleaning: Regular cleaning can help eradicate other insects that centipedes feed on, thus removing their food source.
Remember, centipedes mostly prefer to remain hidden, so encountering them frequently might be a sign of infestation. In such cases, address the causes and seek professional help if necessary.
Common Misconceptions About Centipedes
Many people have misconceptions about centipedes, which can lead to unwarranted fear or misunderstanding of these fascinating creatures. In this section, we’ll clear up some common misconceptions and help you better understand centipedes and their role in nature.
Centipedes and millipedes are the same.
This is a common myth, but centipedes and millipedes are quite different. Centipedes have one pair of legs per body segment, while millipedes have two pairs per segment. Additionally, centipedes have a flatter body and are generally faster than their millipede counterparts. You can learn more about the differences between these two arthropods here.
Centipedes have exactly 100 legs.
Although their name implies they have 100 legs, the actual number of legs a centipede has varies by species. The number of legs can range from 30 to over 400, depending on the species and its body length. Some centipedes can even have an odd number of leg pairs!
Centipedes are dangerous and will bite you.
While it is true that some centipedes possess venom and can bite, they are primarily interested in using their venom to subdue their prey, not humans. In fact, centipedes are surprisingly beneficial predators, as they help control insect populations in your home and garden by feasting on common pests like cockroaches and silverfish.
All centipedes are huge and terrifying
Many people think of centipedes as large and intimidating creatures, but the truth is, there are thousands of species of centipedes, many of which are quite small. Here in Oklahoma, the most common species is only two to six inches long, as mentioned here.
Now that we’ve cleared up some misconceptions about centipedes, you can better appreciate them for their intriguing features and ecological roles in controlling pest populations. Don’t let these myths dissuade you from exploring and enjoying the fascinating world of centipedes.
In this article, we explored what attracts centipedes to your home. As predators of small insects and spiders, centipedes are drawn to environments that provide ample food. Humidity is another factor, as they require a moist environment for survival. To minimize the chances of centipedes invading your space, consider the following steps:
- Maintain cleanliness, reducing food sources for them
- Eliminate damp areas by fixing leaks, improving ventilation, or using dehumidifiers
- Seal cracks and crevices where they might hide
By following these suggestions, you can effectively discourage centipedes from making themselves at home in your living space.
Keep in mind, though, that centipedes can still be beneficial in some situations. Due to their predatory nature, they can help control insect populations in your garden, reducing the need for chemical insecticides.
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 – Hawaiian Centipede
what is this bug?
I live in Hawaii and these are everywhere, including my house. But I see two kinds and I am wondering which this one is. So are my students. This one is record size.
Thanks so much
Beautiful photo of a Centipede. All we can say is it is a Tropical Centipede in the Order Scolopendromorpha. We can also say it is very impressive and wish you said exactly how large it is.
Update: (01/20/2008) Two Centipedes
Regarding centipedes, … Also those from the Hawaiian Islands are Scolopendra subspinipes Leach, 1815, which was brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Polynesians in at least the early 1800s, as they were recorded from there in 1832 or so, at which time they were called the ” Sandwich Islands .”
North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences
Letter 2 – Giant Red Headed Centipede from Texas
Big ol’ centipede?
I found this big critter right outside my front door this morning. I found your site a short time later – and think it just an Austin Texas sized multi-colored centipede. I saw a few really good pictures on similar ones on your site, but didn’t see many that provided a good indicator of the overall size, so I’ve attached a picture of it on a one dollar bill with bricks in background. Please let me know if I did a bad thing by putting it back in the flower bed. Thanks,
You really know how to “do the right thing” and releasing your gorgeous Giant Red Headed Centipede, Scolopendra heros, is an excellent example. It is true that centipedes are venomous, and the bite of the Giant Red Headed Centipede is said to be quite painful, but the species is a valuable predator in the ecosystem that will rid your garden of many unwanted creatures. Centipedes are not aggressive and will not bit a human unles mishandled or otherwise provoked.
Edibility Update: (05/08/2008)
Edibility update: big centipedes!
Sometime this year I’m going to finally dine on one of these large centipedes. They’re traditionally consumed in…. in….. well darn it, of all the edible insects/arachnids/other arthropods I’ve learned about, I can’t recall exactly where it’s eaten. I’ll hazard Peru. More importanly, David George Gordon’s Eat-A-Bug Cookbook features a recipe, so that makes it totally legit. All the best,
Letter 3 – Introduced African Longtail Centipede
Subject: Rhysida longipes
Geographic location of the bug: Miami, Florida
Time: 01:06 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: When visiting relatives in Florida last year, I helped my uncle move old boards out of an unused sandbox. Underneath one board there was a pile of large, greenish centipedes that scattered as they were uncovered. As an invertebrate enthusiast, I am always on the lookout for new species of arthropod to observe, capture, and/or breed, so I had a container handy and was able to capture a 3-4″ specimen that was slower than the rest. There weren’t any containers large enough to house it in safely so I had to use this yellow bucket until I found an appropriate one.
I had hoped to find other centipede species in Florida such as S. viridis or S. longipes, but this one was clearly neither of those. After a bit of research I learned that R. longipes is an adventive species originally native to Africa and Asia that has now colonized Florida and Mexico as well. I thought I’d send this in so people could properly identify common giant centipedes, as many pictures of R. longipes from Florida are mistakenly identified as Scolopendra and Hemiscolopendra on other sites.
As for the specimen I caught, she is now comfortably living in captivity and has regrown some of the lost antennomeres since these photos were taken.
How you want your letter signed: lawnshrimp
Thanks for sending your images of the introduced African Longtail Centipede, a name we located on FlickR where it states: “Though this exotic species has been found on occasion in Florida, all but one incidence was of solitary animals and it has never been considered an established part of the Florida fauna. Late in 2014, while on a scientific collecting trip to south Florida, we came across a large population of this species, which included juveniles through adults, on one of the main Keys. The animals had never been recorded from this area. Later that same evening, we located a large adult just outside of the Everglades National Park, representing an additional locality for this taxon. We wrote up a brief communication for this new, established member of the south Florida ecosystem for the Florida Entomologist which is currently in review.” We also found your images posted to Arachnoboards. Whenever we learn of an introduced species into an ecosystem, we are concerned that native species might be displaced due to larger or more aggresive introductions.
Letter 4 – Millipede or 1000 Legger
Location: Port Sheldon Michigan
August 26, 2013 8:45 am
My neighbor was outside cutting the grass, she shrieked when she saw this on her brick patio. We have never seen a red and blue stiped caterpillar! Today is Aug 26, 2013. End of summer here in Michigan… We live on Lake Michigan and see lots of interesting bugs but this is a new one! I’m sending a picture and a video because he was using all his legs… Maybe eating something?
It is with the greatest of glee that we inform you of your namesake, a Millipede or Thousand Legger. We will try to determine the species at a later time as we are just taking a break from stitching a seam.
Letter 5 – Giant Red-Headed Centipede
Thankyou for your wonderful website! We were able to indentify this beautiful giant centipede we found outside our front door yesterday. It was approx 5 1/2 " long! We managed to put it in a cup and move it safely, away from our house. Giant redheaded centipede, Order: Scolopendromorpha, Family: Scolopendridae, Genus and species: Scolopendra heros Girard.
Thanks for the image and information. We wish you had provided us with a location, but we are guessing it is probably Oklahoma or Texas.
Letter 6 – Giant Red Headed Centipede
Giant Texas Red-Headed Centipede
July 9, 2010
Just thought you would enjoy this pic. This is an older picture (2008 or so), shot by my ex-boyfriend, from a house we lived in that was never sprayed with chemical insecticides. We didn’t believe in them, and luckily neither did our landlady, so we had a menagerie of critters. No real bug problems though–they left us alone and stayed outside for the most part. We had a family of these under the house as well as a family of tarantulas. I had never heard of them prior to seeing this one, and we originally thought it was a snake. Impressive guy! From what I hear they hurt like hell though if they walk across you. We never got much closer than this. Wish I could find another property manager that would leave the land alone. Most people would think I was crazy, but it was fun to have so much rare wildlife right in our back yard.
Thanks for sending us your photo of a Giant Red Headed Centipede, Scolopendra heros, a magnificent creature. Most of our reports are from Texas and Oklahoma.
Letter 7 – Giant Red Headed Centipede
Subject: What is this bug
Location: Branson West, MO
September 24, 2012 11:47 pm
This bug was very big and looked like it had a very hard shell… I’ve never see one but it is very colorful….
This is a Giant Red Headed Centipede, Scolopendra heros, and we were surprised to get your report from Missouri, which we thought was north of the typical range. Most of our reports are from Oklahoma and Texas. Bugguide does have previous reports from Missouri. The Giant Red Headed Centipede is a venomous creature, and though it is not generally considered dangerous, the bite is reported to be quite painful. BugGuide does have this interesting information on the bite of Centipedes in the genus Scolopendra.
Letter 8 – Giant Redheaded Centipede
Giant Redheaded Centipede
A few weekends ago my husband and I were sitting on our couch in our apartment in Austin, TX when this brightly-colored lad (or lass) nonchalantly sauntered past my foot and went under the coffee table. I didn’t scream, but I must have had a look of terror in my eyes as I got up and backed away because my husband high-tailed it off the couch, too, and he hadn’t even seen it! We herded the beast out the front door, then my husband sort-of picked it up with a paper towel and deposited it as far away from our apartment as he could before it started wriggling out of his grasp. Unfortunately, in the process we accidentally divested it of one of its enlarged back legs (that look like stingers) – we found it under the coffee table later – but I’m guessing he/she/it will be fine nevertheless. We didn’t get a chance to measure it, but I would say it was approximately 7 inches long. We identified it from another website as a giant redheaded centipede, Class: Chilopoda, Order: Scolopendromorpha, Family: Scolopendridae, Genus and species: Scolopendra heros (Girard). Feel free to use this picture and/or e-mail if you would like to. Thanks for having such an interesting and informative website!
Your photo is awesome and we are glad to post it. About all we can add is the Giant Redheaded Centipede will probably regenerate its lost appendage, at least partially.
Letter 9 – Giant Redheaded Centipede
Centipede Red Head
Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 7:48 AM
Just wanted to show off a little something that we found on our latest camping trip at Canyon of the Eagles in Burnet, Texas. One of my daughters saw it and yelled “centipede”. We all gathered to see it and were just amazed at the size and speed of this little creature. I identified it on your website and thought you would like to know of our sighting!
Thanks so much for sending us your photo of a Giant Redheaded Centipede, Scolopendra heros. There are several different color variations of this species. You didn’t indicate how large your specimen is. We have gotten reports of individuals as large as 8 inches, and for some reason, the largest reports are from Oklahoma.
Letter 10 – Indonesian Centipede
hello there ! great website u have there..attached a pic for you. no problem ,this is an indonesian centipede.
Letter 11 – Mediterranean Banded Centipede from Corfu
Geographic location of the bug: Corfu
Time: 06:06 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: What sort of bug is this and can i keep it as a pet ?
How you want your letter signed: Mr.markus
Dear Mr. Markus,
We believe this is a Mediterranean Banded Centipede, Scolopendra cingulata, a species that is known for much individual variation, but we have located two online images that show individuals with blue legs and an orange head. One is on Encyclopedia of Life and the other on Shutterstock.
Letter 12 – Multi-Colored Centipede
Found this in my house this morning hiding under a shoe? Been all of the web and cannot find one like it. Have found some similar but not this one.
You neglected to tell us where this was found, other than under a shoe. It looks like a Multi-Colored Centipede, Scolopendra polymorpha, which vary from dark olive yellow to greenish brown. This centipede can grow to 3 or 4 inches in length. They can bite painfully.