What Do House Centipedes Eat: A Quick Guide to Their Diet

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We know you’re dealing with centipedes invading your space, potentially putting health and property at risk. If you need help identifying and eliminating the infestation at the source, connect with our recommended local professional near you.

House centipedes are fascinating creatures that may surprise you with their diet. These arthropods play an essential role in controlling insect populations in and around your home. Though they may look intimidating, their presence can be beneficial for you.

The main food source for house centipedes consists of various small insects, including flies, cockroaches, and spiders. They’re nocturnal predators, prowling around your home at night to feast on these unwanted pests. This means you can consider house centipedes as a natural form of pest control.

It’s important to note that house centipedes prefer damp and dark areas. They can be found lurking in basements, bathrooms, or closets. If you encounter one, remember that they’re helping to keep the pesky insects in your home under control, making your living space more comfortable.

The House Centipede

The Number of Legs

House centipedes are yellowish-brown creatures with a distinctive shape. They have up to 15 pairs of extremely long legs, with each leg-bearing body segment having only one pair of legs. Moreover, their legs are barbed to help hold prey. Here are some features:

  • Up to 15 pairs of legs
  • One pair of legs per body segment
  • Barbed legs to hold prey

Detection of House Centipedes

These creatures have three dark stripes running along the top of their bodies, which can help you identify them. To detect house centipedes, focus on:

  • Yellowish-brown color
  • Distinctive shape
  • Three dark stripes on the body

The Venomous Bite

House centipedes do possess venom, which they use to paralyze their prey. However, it is important to understand that their venom is not harmful to humans unless you are allergic to it. So, if you encounter one of these creatures, remember:

  • They possess venom
  • Venom is used to paralyze prey
  • Not harmful to humans (unless allergic)

The Centipede’s Speed

These creatures have impressive speed as they can quickly run away and escape predators. House centipedes are known for their agile movements and swift captures of their prey. Keep in mind that:

  • House centipedes are fast runners
  • Agile and swift in capturing prey

Overall, the house centipede is unique, but it can be helpful to know its features and characteristics so you can identify them and understand their role in the ecosystem.

House Centipede’s Diet

Primary Prey

House centipedes primarily feed on various small insects and arthropods, such as:

  • Cockroaches
  • Spiders
  • Silverfish
  • Ants
  • Termites
  • Moths
  • Crickets
  • Flies

These creatures are their main source of food, allowing them to thrive in environments where these prey are abundant. For example, house centipedes can often be found in damp areas like basements, where they can easily hunt for insects like silverfish and cockroaches source.

Secondary Prey

In addition to their primary prey, house centipedes also consume other, less common food sources. Some of these secondary prey include:

  • Wasps
  • Bed bugs
  • Earthworms

While they don’t rely on these creatures as much for their sustenance, they may still eat them if the opportunity arises or if their primary prey becomes scarce source.

Comparison Table

Primary Prey Secondary Prey
Cockroaches Wasps
Spiders Bed bugs
Silverfish Earthworms
Ants  
Termites  
Moths  
Crickets  
Flies  

In conclusion, house centipedes have a diverse diet that primarily focuses on common household insects and arthropods. This makes them beneficial in some cases, as they can help control pest populations in your home. However, if you see house centipedes frequently, this may also be an indication that you have a more significant infestation of these insects and should take action to address the issue source.

House Centipedes and Human Beings

House centipedes are usually considered harmless to humans. They are predators that feed on various pests, such as silverfish, firebrats, carpet beetle larvae, cockroaches, and spiders. In this way, they can be beneficial by helping control the population of other insects in your home.

However, there are some concerns when it comes to the interaction between centipedes and humans. For instance, if you accidentally come into contact with a house centipede, it can cause a sharp pain from its bite. The bite is not life-threatening but might lead to an allergic reaction or swelling in sensitive individuals. To avoid these issues, it’s best to keep a safe distance from house centipedes and if centipedes become an issue contact a local pest control company.

In conclusion, house centipedes can be seen as both friends and foes. While they do help control the population of unwanted pests, you should still exercise caution around them due to their potential to inflict a painful bite.

Predators of House Centipedes

House centipedes have their fair share of predators in the wild. These predators help maintain a balance in the ecosystem. Some common predators of house centipedes include:

  • Birds: Various bird species find house centipedes to be a tasty snack. For example, sparrows and robins are known to feed on these arthropods.
  • Snakes: Small snakes, such as ring-necked snakes and garter snakes, might also enjoy a house centipede for a quick meal.
  • Lizards: Lizards, like geckos and brown anoles, are natural predators of house centipedes. They help manage centipede populations in various habitats.

To give you a better understanding of how these predators compare, let’s take a look at a comparison table below:

Predator Diet Habitat Predation Style
Birds Omnivorous Forests, cities, grasslands Aerial, ground hunters
Snakes Carnivorous Forests, grasslands, wetlands Stealth, ambush predators
Lizards Insectivorous Forests, deserts, grasslands Active hunters, ambush predators

As you can see, each predator has its own unique way of hunting house centipedes. What they all have in common, though, is their role in keeping centipede populations in check, making them essential contributors to a balanced ecosystem. So, the next time you spot any of these predators in your garden or nearby, remember that they’re doing their part to help keep house centipedes at bay.

House Centipedes’ Habitat

Indoor Habitat

House centipedes prefer damp and moist areas, making them common visitors in your basements and bathrooms. They are arthropods that feed on household pests, which is why you might spot them near baseboards, cracks, or crevices. Protecting your home from these critters can be as simple as sealing any gaps and maintaining a dry environment.

  • Damp locations: basements and bathrooms
  • Favorite hiding spots: baseboards, cracks, and crevices
  • Control measures: seal gaps and reduce moisture

Outdoor Habitat

Although house centipedes can be found indoors, they are initially outdoor creatures. They are more prevalent in the Mediterranean region but can adapt to various habitats. While outdoors, they tend to live in damp, moist areas, where they can hunt for other arthropods using their compound eyes.

Comparison table between indoor and outdoor habitats:

Indoor Habitat Outdoor Habitat
Basements, bathrooms Damp areas in the garden
Baseboards, cracks, crevices Under rocks, wood, or leaves
Moist environments Moist environments
Infiltration in human homes Adapt to different environments

Regularly inspecting your outdoor surroundings for potential house centipede habitats can help prevent them from invading your home. And while they might look scary, these creatures pose no threat to your pets or family, so there’s no need to worry too much about their occasional appearances.

Reproduction of House Centipedes

House centipedes reproduce through laying eggs, with the female house centipede depositing up to 35 eggs in areas with high moisture content. These eggs will eventually hatch into larvae, which go through a series of molting stages before maturing into adults.

During the larval stage, house centipedes undergo several molts. Each molt brings the larvae closer to their adult form. They develop more legs and their bodies grow in size. As adults, they can have up to 15 pairs of legs, with each leg pair belonging to one leg-bearing body segment1.

House centipedes have a relatively short lifespan compared to other centipede species. They can live for a year or more, while some other species may live for several years2. This shorter lifespan means that house centipedes need to reproduce more frequently to maintain their population.

Remember, these arthropods prefer moist environments and feed on various small arthropods like silverfish, firebrats, carpet beetle larvae, cockroaches, spiders, and more3. So, if you come across house centipedes, it’s likely due to the presence of their prey in your home.

In conclusion, the reproduction of house centipedes involves egg-laying, followed by larval development and molting. Adult house centipedes have distinctive long legs that aid in capturing their prey. Their preference for moist environments and diverse diet contributes to their success in various habitats.

Prevention and Pest Control

To effectively prevent and control house centipede infestations, you need a multi-faceted approach. As a homeowner, you should focus on maintaining a clean and dry environment in your home. This will help deter house centipedes and other household pests.

One effective method of controlling moisture levels is using a dehumidifier. By eliminating damp areas and reduce humidity, you can discourage house centipede populations.

Also, keep your home clutter-free. Remove piles of papers, magazines, and cardboard that might be harboring pests. Seal cracks and gaps in your home’s exterior to prevent entry.

Here are a few more prevention tips:

  • Regularly clean crumbs and spills from kitchen surfaces and floors
  • Dispose of garbage and organic waste in sealed containers
  • Fix any leaking pipes or faucets
  • Vacuum frequently to reduce potential hiding spots for pests

When faced with an existing infestation, it might be necessary to use chemical pest control methods. If this is the case, choose products labeled for house centipede control and follow the directions carefully.

In conclusion, a combination of preventative measures and targeted pest control methods can help you keep house centipedes and other unwanted pests at bay. Remember, maintaining a clean and dry environment is key to discouraging infestations.

Conclusion

House centipedes are known for their distinct appearance and unique hunting abilities. They primarily feed on other small arthropods, such as silverfish, firebrats, carpet beetle larvae, cockroaches, and spiders, helping to keep their populations in check.

House Centipede Diet:

  • Silverfish
  • Firebrats
  • Carpet beetle larvae
  • Cockroaches
  • Spiders

In your home, their presence might signal a larger underlying issue with other pests. As a result, it’s essential to address both the house centipedes and their prey in your pest control efforts.

For example, you could take measures to reduce moisture in your home, as many of these arthropods thrive in damp environments. Keep your living spaces clean and free of potential hiding spots for both house centipedes and their prey.

By understanding the feeding habits of house centipedes and addressing any underlying pest issues, you can create a more comfortable and pest-free living space.

Footnotes

  1. Missouri Department of Conservation – House Centipede
  2. Cornell University – House Centipedes: Lots of Legs, but not a Hundred
  3. Penn State Extension – House Centipedes

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 eats Mouse

Huge Bug Killed Mouse, what is it?
September 30, 2009
We found this when we were checking our mouse traps yesterday. As you will notice, it is about the same length of the mouse and its thorax (don’t no if I am using this correctly, but the width of its body not including the legs) was as wide as a pencil. The mouse trap is still set, but the mouse is dead, presumably at the hands of the creature seen next to it, therefore, it is possibly posionous as well. Can you help us figure out what this is, and is it dangerous. P.S. Our house has many small centipide looking things, at the absolute biggest they are 2 inches, but very narrow, could this just be a mutated version of those?
Person who lives in the basement with this thing
Basement

House Centipede eats Mouse
House Centipede eats Mouse

Dear Person who lives in the basement,
WE are enthralled with your image of a House Centipede with a mouse.  Though we have not heard of House Centipedes preying upon small mammals, your photo would indicate that this is a possibility.  House Centipedes do have venom, but they are not dangerous to humans.

Letter 2 – House Centipede eats Cricket

Happy house centipede with fast food
Location:  Carroll County Maryland
September 29, 2010 9:50 pm
This site is one of the best on the web! I’ve used it many times for myself, and helped to educate my young daughters (and ok, my wife) on some amazing bugs. Thanks for all your work.
Just wanted to submit this beautiful house centipede enjoying a meal, helping us rid our garage of crickets. (It’s a big one – this is September, so that’s not a baby cricket!) I’ve seen many pics of them on your site, but none having lunch – as proof to the frightened humans out there of their beneficial ways!
I’m no bugman, but I do think these are amazing.
Signature:  Barry in Maryland

House Centipede Eats Cricket

Hi Barry,
Thanks so much for the compliment.  Though we have countless images of House Centipedes on our website and we always extoll their status as harmless and beneficial hunters, we don’t have many images of them eating.  House Centipedes are fast and they are adept hunters, and though they frequently become Unnecessary Carnage, we always advise our readership to allow them to live in the home so that they can hunt cockroaches and other undesirable intruders.  Thanks for your submission.

Yes, the centipedes are quick- but I actually get this sense that they are smart.  Aside from the neural power it must take for something with 15 pairs of legs to move with that speed, they don’t seem just reactionary.
For a sense of intelligence, I put them right up there in my mind behind praying mantids, jumping spiders, and wolf spiders…just something a little more going on in there!  Doesn’t mean my wife doesn’t shriek a little…!
On a side note, I wanted to thank you for making me look smart on identifying some unusual bugs in the past:  An Eyed Elater that once landed on my leg up on the bluffs overlooking Harper’s Ferry, WV; a huge Dobsonfly I found on my truck hood last year; and the awesome Wheel (Assassin) Bug a few years back – we had a ton of them outside the house, they must have hatched from a nest in our yard somewhere, as I’ve only ever seen one or two since.
With regard to the Wheel Bug, in the Fall that year we capture a giant and pregnant orb weaver, and also a Wheel Bug and pitted them against each other in a bug container we have.  The kids and I watched a fascinating match that was a standoff with the bug as the aggressor (I don’t think we’d have actually allowed carnage), and we eventually released both.
As a bugman, thought you might enjoy that story!  I’m not a bug lover, but I do like to learn about and respect nature, and teach my kids to as well.  Your site really helps with that.
Barry

Letter 3 – House Centipede eats Moth

Subject: House Centipede food chain
Location: near Madison, WI
September 2, 2012 2:39 am
Something slithery and oddly shaped caught my eye this evening. It turned out to be a large house centipede dragging a moth across our shed wall. I thought you might want a photo for your food chain section.
Signature: Sherrán

House Centipede eats Moth

Dear Sherrán,
Your Food Chain image of a House Centipede eating a Moth is an excellent addition to our website.  We are always happy to receive photos of living House Centipedes as they are so frequently the subject of Unnecessary Carnage images.  We also like to lobby for the preservation of the somewhat frightening House Centipede within homes as they help to eliminate unwanted nocturnal foraging insects like cockroaches.  We have discovered that House Centipedes will often come to a light source at night to feast on the other insects that are attracted to the lights.

Thanks very much.   I’m delighted to be able to contribute to such a great website.
I have a strict no-kill policy at my house, so you may rest assured that no house centipedes (or other bugs) have been harmed here.
Sherrán

Letter 4 – House Centipede eats House Centipede: Survival of the Fittest

cannibal centipede found this centipede feast a few nights ago here on mt. washington. i didn’t know they ate each other, but their food supply may be low (from the lack of rain this year, i’m supposing). this spring i haven’t been seeing many arthropods other than centipedes and a few types of spiders. yours,
phil

Hi Phil,
Are we neighbors in Mt Washington, Los Angeles??? We have been wanting to change the image of the House Centipede on our homepage, but have been waiting for an awesome image. Thanks so much for providing one. House Centipedes will obviously eat one another as well as including spiders insects in their diets.

Authors

  • 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.

    View all posts
  • 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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Tags: Centipedes

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16 Comments. Leave new

  • I have to admit that the house centipede gives me the creeps. It is the one insect that I allow my husband to kill in the house….others get the catch and release treatment. I beg to differ about the venom being harmless. I stepped on one by accident and it burned my bare foot! ICK!

    Reply
    • Dear kristi,
      Thank you for your frank email and your first hand experience. We should possibly modify our opinion of the House Centipede. We would still never kill one. They are magnificent predators who have no desire to bite humans, though desire might be too anthropomorphized a word to use on a House Centipede. Like many spiders that are considered harmless, not because they are without venom because all spiders are venomous, and not because they cannot bite humans, but because they very rarely bite humans. The bottom line on venom is that we personally believe that different people with different sensitivities (or possibly allergies) and that they may react differently to venom, including that of the House Centipede.

      Reply
  • I have several house centipedes living in our house. I consider them our first line of defense against insect pests…I never thought they might help against mice too! They never bother us. They just run across the floor from time to time and when we find one in the bathtub, we carefully catch them in a big glass and release outside. They are very fragile creatures… doesn’t take much to kill them.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sending in your observations. As you indicate, House Centipedes are no match for humans who want to dispatch them.

      Reply
  • I wanted to respond to this and make an important correction– House Centipedes are the primary predator for Roaches. If you have them, then you have roaches as well. Don’t kill a House Centipede– even though they are very creepy. let them do their job. When the roach population dies, they will move on.

    Reply
    • We have been informing our readers for years that House Centipedes will help to control the cockroach populations. Thanks for the affirmation.

      Reply
    • I want to respond to Jim and make an important correction to his important correction. While it’s true that house centipedes will prey on roaches, the existence of house centipedes in your property does NOT infer that you also have roaches. There are no roaches in the area of Michigan where I live. However, there is a substantial house centipede population.

      Reply
    • This is just misinformation. We live in Canada and have no roaches anywhere and never have. Yet we have an old Victorian home with a massive amount of house centipedes.
      What they seem to feed on is spiders, and the spiders feed on them as a natural ecosystem.
      Interesting side note, we had mice noticeably in the last year and had an exterminator take care of that. Since that time, the centipede population seems to have increased 2-3 times. I now kill all centipedes but let all the spiders live and things are slowly turning into a balance again.

      Reply
  • damn these guys give me the creeps. i saw a huge 1 … little bit bigger thanmy palm attack, kill and take away a roach. gave me the chills…. very scary stuff

    Reply
  • Hmm….

    This could explain why the mouse population in our house seems to be on the decline, even though I have not set any traps yet…..

    And also could explain why we have house centipedes the size of mice.

    Very creepy.

    Reply
    • We don’t know how common this type of predation would be, but the image illustrates that it is a possibility with large House Centipedes.

      Reply
  • Hmm….

    This could explain why the mouse population in our house seems to be on the decline, even though I have not set any traps yet…..

    And also could explain why we have house centipedes the size of mice.

    Very creepy.

    Reply
  • Jimmy deedub
    May 13, 2016 6:26 pm

    We have a similar type of centipede here in new Zealand. Apparently they’re the biggest type in the world they grow up to 300mm long and very regularly in the house hunting mice they’re called soil dweller centipedes but love living indoors when there’s plenty of things to eat, first one i ever saw i thought we were being invaded by aliens haha, beautiful cridders and may be a little dangerous just don’t try handle one with bare hands

    Reply
  • If it looks like a house centipede but it’s legs can stick cause seen on wall or ceiling is that what it Is? Looks like a poder and centipede had a baby

    Reply
  • We’re in NE Iowa. Have been seeing these for the last 6 months. Never had a clue what they were. I’ve caught them and put them outside. This is the first winter we’ve not had any mice! So interesting! The wooly critter I saw the other day looked about 2″ long.

    Reply

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