Where Do House Centipedes Come From: Uncovering Their Secret Origins

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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 often unwelcome guests in homes. You may have encountered these creepy crawlies scuttling across your floor or even climbing your walls. But where do they come from, and why are they attracted to your home?

These many-legged arthropods typically originate from the outdoors. Your home provides an ideal environment for house centipedes, as they seek out damp spaces with plenty of hiding spots. One of their favorite habitats includes dark, moist areas, like basements, bathrooms, and piles of wood or leaves near your home.

As an added incentive, house centipedes also come indoors to hunt for other insects. They prey on a variety of small pests such as spiders, ants, and silverfish. So, while these unwanted visitors can be unnerving, they also help to keep the insect population in your home under control.

What are House Centipedes?

House centipedes are unique and intriguing arthropods that might catch your attention when they scurry across your floor. They belong to a species called Scutigera coleoptrata and can have up to 15 pairs of long legs1. These legs are barbed, aiding them in catching prey2.

Their appearance is characterized by a yellowish-brown to grayish body, adorned with three dark stripes along the top3. Each leg is encircled by dark and white bands, giving them a visually striking appearance. Their eyes, however, set them apart from other centipedes. Unlike many of their relatives, house centipedes possess well-developed, faceted eyes4.

House centipedes are often found in damp areas of your home, such as basements, closets, and bathrooms5. They come out at night to hunt for food, feasting on small insects, insect larvae, and spiders6.

While their presence might be off-putting, they can be considered beneficial for controlling other pests in your home. However, most homeowners view them as a nuisance7. But you can rest easy, knowing that their bites are not toxic enough to be deadly to adults or children8.

Natural Habitat of Centipedes

House centipedes primarily thrive in damp and dark environments. They are usually found in soil, under rocks, logs, and bark in the great outdoors. These arthropods are also known to reside in human homes, especially in places with high moisture content, such as basements and bathrooms.

In your garden, you might find them hiding in the following spots:

  • Under rocks
  • In leaf litter
  • Among logs and bark

When they venture indoors, they tend to seek out secluded areas with plenty of small arthropods to feed on, such as:

  • Basements
  • Bathrooms
  • Crawlspaces
  • Closets

A benefit of having these centipedes around is their ability to feed on common household pests like silverfish, firebrats, carpet beetle larvae, cockroaches, and spiders. While their presence can be a sign of a larger arthropod issue, house centipedes are predators that naturally control insect populations.

Maintain a balance between allowing these helpful arthropods to live in your outdoor spaces, while preventing them from becoming a nuisance indoors. Keep your living areas clean and dry, repair any water leaks, and seal potential entry points to discourage house centipedes from making themselves at home.

House Centipedes Invasions

House centipedes thrive in damp environments, so they often find their way into your home through cracks and crevices near moisture sources. Common points of entry include:

  • Doors
  • Basements
  • Bathrooms

These areas usually have higher levels of humidity, making them perfect hiding spots for these nocturnal pests.

Once inside, house centipedes might settle in your walls, seeking out moist areas prone to other pests, such as:

  • Cockroaches
  • Silverfish
  • Spiders

To prevent a centipede infestation, be proactive with these measures:

  • Seal any cracks around your home.
  • Manage moisture levels by using a dehumidifier in damp areas.
  • Keep your home clutter-free to limit hiding spots.

By addressing these factors, you can minimize the chances of house centipedes invading your living space. Remember to keep your living areas clean, address moisture issues, and seal openings to the outdoors. This way, you can create an environment that’s less inviting for centipedes and prevent an infestation before it starts. However, if an infestation has already happened its best to call a local pest control company.

Appearance of House Centipedes

House centipedes have a unique and distinct appearance that sets them apart from other centipedes. They possess an elongated, worm-like body with a yellowish-brown color and three dark stripes running along the top of the body source.

Not only do they have this striking color pattern, but their legs also make a bold statement. House centipedes can have up to 15 pairs of extremely long legs, which are barbed to help hold their prey source. The leg pairs increase in length from the front to the back of the body, giving the centipede an impression of considerable size.

Moreover, these creatures have well-developed antennae that aid in their sensory perception. Unlike many other centipedes, house centipedes also possess developed, faceted eyes source.

In summary, house centipedes have a unique appearance due to their elongated worm-like body, yellowish-brown color with dark stripes, long legs, and developed antennae and eyes.

Centipedes as Predators

House centipedes are adept predators that feed on various insects and bugs. You can often find them in damp and dark places, such as basements and bathrooms. Thanks to their numerous legs and speed, they can quickly catch their prey. Here are some of the common pests they help control in your home:

  • Spiders
  • Ants
  • Silverfish
  • Termites
  • Bed bugs
  • Flies
  • Millipedes

Besides their choice of prey, house centipedes have several features that make them efficient predators:

  • House centipedes have up to 15 pairs of long legs, aiding in swift movement.
  • They come out at night, taking advantage of the darkness to seek out their next meal.

Even though house centipedes are beneficial in controlling pests, many homeowners prefer not having these creepy-crawlies around.

Some pros of having house centipedes as predators are:

  • They naturally help control the population of house pests.
  • They are not harmful to humans, as their bites are not toxic enough to be deadly.

On the other hand, there are some cons:

  • Many people find their appearance unsettling.
  • They may be considered a nuisance by homeowners, even though they play a role in controlling other pests.

In summary, house centipedes are efficient predators that can help control various insects and bugs in your home. However, their presence may not be welcomed by everyone.

House Centipedes and Humans

House centipedes are yellowish-brown creatures with up to 15 pairs of long legs. They might look scary, but bites from them are extremely rare. You might wonder how they interact with humans, so let’s explore that topic.

These critters are actually harmless to humans. They might appear intimidating, but their primary prey are other insects, such as spiders, bedbugs, and cockroaches. In that regard, they can even be helpful in your home.

However, if a house centipede does bite, it can be quite painful. Despite their venomous nature, their venom is not dangerous to humans. If bitten, you’d likely experience temporary swelling and a burning sensation.

Some people might find the presence of house centipedes unsettling. If you prefer not to share your living space with them, try sealing any entry points and controlling the insect population in your home. The main reasons they enter human dwellings are to seek food, shelter, and warmth.

So, remember:

  • House centipedes are generally harmless to humans
  • They prey on other insects and can help control unwanted pests
  • Bites are rare, but can be painful
  • Keep your home free of entry points and insects to deter them

Preventive Measures Against Centipedes

To prevent house centipedes from entering your home, it’s crucial to take certain precautions. Start by maintaining a clean environment, as it eliminates sources of food and hiding places for centipedes. Sweep and vacuum regularly, dispose of trash properly, and store food in sealed containers.

In addition to cleaning, reducing moisture in your home is crucial. Centipedes thrive in damp conditions, so using a dehumidifier can help discourage them. Ensure proper ventilation, repair leaks, and remove excessive clutter.

Here are some additional preventive measures:

  • Seal any cracks and gaps in walls, floors, and around pipes.
  • Use sticky traps and diatomaceous earth near potential entry points.
  • Apply pesticides or insecticides, if necessary, outside the house to create a barrier.

Pros and Cons of Common Prevention Methods

DehumidifierReduces moisture, making the environment less attractive to centipedesConsumption of electricity, may slightly raise electricity bills
Sticky trapsNon-toxic, easy to use and monitorOnly trap individual centipedes, may not completely solve the issue
Pesticides/InsecticidesCan create an effective barrierRisk of harm to pets, plants, or humans if not used properly)

Always consider the safety of your pets and the environment when using chemicals or traps. If you’re unsure of the best approach, consult with a professional exterminator or pest control service to eliminate and prevent centipedes from invading your home. With a combination of these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the presence of house centipedes and maintain a comfortable living space.

How to Handle Centipede Infestations

Dealing with a house centipede infestation can be disconcerting. Here are some steps to help you manage the situation more effectively:

  • Eliminate their habitat: Centipedes thrive in damp, dark areas. Eliminate such conditions by sealing any foundation cracks, fixing leaky pipes, and keeping your home clean and dry.
  • Remove their food source: House centipedes feed on other pests like cockroaches 1. By eliminating their prey, you starve them of sustenance. Keep your home clean and pest-free with regular cleaning and proper storage of food.
  • Trap and dispose: You can catch centipedes using sticky traps. Place these traps near baseboards and in dark corners where they frequent.
  • Natural remedies: Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around your home’s entry points to deter centipedes from entering. This natural, non-toxic substance damages their exoskeletons, making it an effective repellent.

If your centipede infestation is severe, consider hiring a pest control professional or an exterminator to handle the issue for you. These experts have the experience and knowledge to effectively eliminate the infestation and help prevent it from recurring.

Keep in mind that occasional centipedes inside your home can even be beneficial, as they eat other pests. Yet, if you find their presence to be a nuisance, the above steps should help keep their numbers in check and your home centipede-free.

House Centipedes in Different Locations

House centipedes can be found in various areas within homes due to their preference for moist environments. They are common in:

  • Bathrooms: Centipedes are attracted to the high humidity levels and dampness in bathrooms. Check around drains and sinks where moisture accumulates.
  • Basements: Being typically wet and cold, basements are optimal environments for house centipedes to thrive. Search for them in dark corners and storage areas.
  • Closets: These confined spaces can provide the necessary moisture and darkness that centipedes seek, especially if they contain damp clothing or shoes.
  • Garages: Similar to basements, the humidity and seclusion in garages make them ideal hiding spots for house centipedes.

In the U.S., house centipedes were first discovered in Pennsylvania in 1849, and they have since spread across the country, adapting to various conditions. They do not typically survive outdoors during winter because they struggle with cold temperatures outside heated structures. Consequently, they tend to seek out warm and humid homes during these times.

By understanding the locations that attract house centipedes, you can take preventive measures like reducing humidity and dampness in those areas to discourage them from invading your property.

Here is a comparison table of house centipede preferred locations with their corresponding features:

BathroomHigh humidity, dampness, sinks, drains
BasementCold, wet, dark corners, storage areas
ClosetMoist, dark, damp clothing or shoes
GarageHumid, secluded, similar to basements

Remember, maintaining a balanced humidity level and addressing wet or moist areas in your home can help minimize the presence of house centipedes and keep your living space comfortable.

House Centipedes and Other Pests

House centipedes are yellowish-brown creatures that are quite distinctive due to their long legs. They are often found in damp areas like basements, closets, bathrooms, and under the bark of firewood stored indoors1. These arthropods are known for feeding on small insects, such as ants, termites, bed bugs, millipedes, and spiders2. In a way, they can be considered beneficial because they help control the population of other pests.

However, their presence can also become a nuisance for homeowners. When you see house centipedes frequently, it might suggest that there is an abundance of prey arthropods in your home3. This could indicate a larger pest problem, such as an infestation of cockroaches or ants4.

To deal with various pests, you might resort to using pesticides. Although these chemicals can be effective in eliminating unwanted bugs, they should be used cautiously. It’s essential to follow the instructions on the product label and avoid overusing them, as excessive use may lead to harmful effects on your health and the environment.

Some common pests and their characteristics:

  • Cockroaches: These insects are known for their resilience and ability to proliferate quickly. They may carry diseases and cause allergies.
  • Ants: These social insects often invade homes in search of food. Some species, like carpenter ants, can cause structural damage.
  • Termites: These wood-eating insects can cause major damage to structures by weakening support beams, floors, and walls.
  • Bed bugs: These tiny, blood-sucking insects are difficult to eradicate once they infest mattresses, furniture, and other household items.
  • Millipedes: While not directly harmful to humans, these slow-moving arthropods can become a nuisance if they invade your home in large numbers.

In summary, house centipedes can act as natural predators for other pests but can sometimes indicate a more significant issue. It’s essential to keep an eye out for signs of pest infestations and take steps to control them if needed.

Common Misconceptions About House Centipedes

Misconception 1: House centipedes are harmful

Many people believe house centipedes pose a threat to humans. However, they are actually quite harmless and rarely bite people. Even if they do bite, the pain is usually mild and temporary.

Misconception 2: They are a sign of a dirty home

House centipedes are attracted to moist environments and prey on other insects. Their presence doesn’t necessarily indicate a dirty home, but rather a nuisance problem with other pests that they feed on.

Misconception 3: They’re poisonous

Despite their creepy appearance, house centipedes are not known to be venomous. The long legs and scary appearance can make them seem dangerous, but they are actually quite safe to have around the house.

Misconception 4: They cause damage to homes

Centipedes don’t cause any direct damage to your home or belongings. They are more interested in hunting other insects and don’t infest food, clothing or wood.

Misconception 5: All centipedes are the same

Centipedes come in various sizes and colors. The house centipede, for example, has long legs while other centipedes have shorter legs. Additionally, house centipedes have three dark stripes on their body, while other centipede species may look different.

In summary, house centipedes are often misunderstood creatures. They are harmless, don’t carry diseases, and don’t damage your home. Their presence can be a nuisance but also helps control other pests. To keep them at bay, focus on eliminating the insects they prey on and reducing moisture in your home.

Life Cycle of House Centipedes

House centipedes, or Scutigera, have an interesting life cycle. They start as eggs laid in damp environments where they can find ample resources and shelter.

As the eggs hatch, the young centipedes go through several stages of development called instars. In each stage, they shed their exoskeleton, allowing them to grow larger and gain a pair of legs. As they mature, their speed increases, eventually making them agile hunters.

Some notable features of house centipedes include:

  • Long, slender legs with distinctive dark and white bands
  • Brown to grayish-yellow body color
  • 15 pairs of legs when fully grown

House centipedes typically enter your home through various openings and entry points such as cracks in walls, gaps around windows, and openings in the foundation. They are attracted by the structure of your house, especially if it offers a damp environment and plenty of shelter.

To avoid attracting these arthropods, you may want to do the following:

  • Seal up any cracks and gaps around your home
  • Maintain proper ventilation to reduce dampness
  • Regularly inspect and deep clean your living space

By understanding the life cycle of house centipedes and taking preventive measures, you can reduce their chances of setting up residence in your home and maintain a comfortable living environment.


  1. https://arthropod.uark.edu/house-centipede/ 2 3
  2. https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/house-centipede 2
  3. https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/house-centipede 2
  4. https://arthropod.uark.edu/house-centipede/ 2
  5. https://extension.okstate.edu/programs/digital-diagnostics/insects-and-arthropods/house-centipede-scutigera-coleopterata/
  6. https://extension.okstate.edu/programs/digital-diagnostics/insects-and-arthropods/house-centipede-scutigera-coleopterata/
  7. https://extension.okstate.edu/programs/digital-diagnostics/insects-and-arthropods/house-centipede-scutigera-coleopterata/
  8. https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/centipedes/


  • 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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4 Comments. Leave new

  • You have to admit that house centipedes are some creepy looking bugs! If they stay out of my way, I stay out of theirs! And we live in the same house….

  • For years I have spared the lives of house centipedes whenever possible, especially after reading on this site how they are generally docile insects that keep your home free of other bugs. One time my dog saw one and as he tried to sniff it, it seemed to snap up and bite his nose. He whimpered, but I had assumed he just got scared and would now know to leave them alone. We get a lot of them that come into our house through any cracks they can find, as our neighborhood is near a creek so they are common here. Sometimes I would wake up with a irritated little bite bump (not mosquitoes, as I swell up from those) so I assumed maybe spiders (due to your website). Well, last night one fell into our bed as we slept, and my husband woke up to it biting his side. He instinctively squished it and jumped to turn on a light to see what the culprit was. After the initial disgust of realizing a centipede had been crawling on us while we slept, I realized that my arm was burning with an identical bite. The centipede had gotten me right before my husband- only I’m a deeper sleeper. It really bothered me as I feel I was misinformed by your website. I am 9 months pregnant and it worries me that this can also happen to our baby while he sleeps. Needless to say, they will no longer be spared in our home.

    • Hi Christina,
      Someone recently wrote to us that “if it has a mouth, it can bite” and we no longer write that certain creatures do not bite, but we do maintain that House Centipedes are not dangerous. They do have venom and a bite might cause a reaction in sensitive people.

  • Charles Wilson
    April 24, 2020 4:23 am

    I have been living in my sister’s basement for a while. As I was watching TV I noticed something in my periferal vision field, it was a house centipede on the wall. I am not sure if I saw it or I felt it but anyway I realized it was there. I took a picture of it in order to search the image on google to ID it. I wanted to make sure it was not poisonous. I learned that it was not really harmful to humans and in addition, it eats spiders and other bugs so that is a good thing.


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