How to Get Rid of House Centipedes

How to Get Rid of House Centipedes

If you’ve seen a house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata), it’s a sight you won’t soon forget. These centipedes move fast and have lots of long legs. The sight of one scurrying down a drain can be startling for many. 

Fortunately, If you see a house centipede, don’t fret. While they have venom and can sting, house centipedes would rather avoid people than have to use their weak bite. Managing house centipedes is relatively easy once you eliminate their food sources. 


House centipedes are yellow-gray in color and approximately 1 to 1.5 inches long. Adults have up to 15 pairs of legs, but they have fewer legs in previous molts. Females have one pair of extremely long legs that are around twice the length of her entire body.

While house centipedes are actually quite small, their large, long legs make them look bigger than they truly are. They might look to be the size of your palm, around three to four inches wide, but their bodies are much smaller. Larvae or newly hatched molts can have variances in appearance and could have as few as four legs.  

House centipedes eat other pests such as:

  • Cockroaches
  • Firebrats
  • Spiders
  • Small arthropods (like pill bugs) 
  • Silverfish

The bad news is that if you’re seeing house centipedes in your home, you may actually have a larger infestation of other pests drawing them indoors. 


Millipedes and house centipedes are not the same. While both are arthropods, they are two different pests, with millipedes belonging to the scientific class Diplopoda and centipedes belonging to the class Chilopoda. While house centipedes tend to be no more than 1.5 inches long, millipedes tend to be that size or larger. There are over 10,000 millipede species, but the most obvious in the United States is the four-inch-long Narceus americanus, found in the southeastern U.S. 

Check out some of the most common differences between centipedes and millipedes:


House centipedes have one pair of legs per segment.  Millipedes can have two pairs of legs per segment. 


Centipedes are carnivores who eat insects. They use venom to subdue them.  Millipedes usually eat decomposing plants and are considered scavengers. 


House centipedes aren’t usually dangerous to people, though they can inflict a bee-like sting and cause an occasional allergic reaction.  Millipedes aren’t venomous, though they do sometimes give off an irritating fluid that can cause allergic reactions.


There are approximately 3,000 to 8,000 species of centipedes.  Over 80,000 species of millipedes are estimated to exist. 


House centipedes live in moist areas, like bathrooms and kitchens when indoors. Millipedes tend to live in moist soil since they eat plants.



Millipedes don’t usually like to live in people’s homes, so if you see a many-legged creature on your wall or floor, it’s more likely to be a house centipede. However, millipedes will sometimes come into homes when they’re trying to get away from heavy rains, so if you see a dark reddish-brown or black worm-like arthropod with seemingly endless legs, then you may have a millipede visiting. 

If you see a millipede in your home, you can simply sweep it back outside. Millipedes don’t usually survive inside homes, which means that they don’t want to be inside either. If you start noticing a lot of millipedes, take a look around your yard for piles of mulch or plant life where millipedes may be breeding. If you get rid of loose leaf litter and piles of mulch, you’ll probably take care of your millipede issue in a short period of time. 

The same is not true of house centipedes. House centipedes are hunters and will look for other insects to eat. If you can get rid of the pest problem drawing them in—whether the issue is spiders, silverfish, or other small insects—house centipedes may move on to hunt elsewhere. 


House centipedes prey on many common household pests, like silverfish, cockroaches, and spiders. When there are more of those insects and arachnids in your home than usual, a house centipede may find its way inside to feast on a bountiful harvest. 

Centipedes are also interested in living in cool, dark places, so if you have a basement or crawl space that is infested with spiders or other types of prey, you’re much more likely to find centipedes living there. The list of possible centipede prey is extensive, but some of the bugs that will draw a centipede’s attention include:

  • Silverfish
  • Cockroaches
  • Beetles
  • Crickets
  • Earthworms
  • Pill bugs
  • Other centipedes
  • Some types of spiders
  • Moths
  • Flies

Depending on the infestation, you may be able to minimize the number and types of prey in your home fairly quickly to discourage other house centipedes from coming inside. When hunting outside or in external parts of the home, house centipedes tend not to be noticed. These kinds of centipedes usually stay under concrete slabs or inside cement block walls, but they’re able to come inside quickly when they sense there is food to be had. They can also travel through drains that don’t have water traps and may be more prevalent around drains connected to dry sumps.


For house centipede management, it’s essential to get rid of the prey that’s attracting them. A professional pest control company can help with that. You can also limit the likelihood of having house centipedes by making your home less appealing to them.


Cut back on moisture in your bathrooms by installing and turning on your bathroom fan each time you use the shower. By reducing humidity in your home, you’ll lessen the likelihood that a house centipede will want to call itself your roommate.


You may want to warm up or dry out your home since these centipedes want to be in moist areas whenever possible. Dehumidifiers are helpful for removing moisture from the air, and you can try turning up the temperature a few degrees to dry out the air quickly. As your house dries out and gets hotter, this moisture-loving pest may skitter back out of your home.


Cracks and crevices in your home’s exterior can provide easy access for house centipedes (and other pests) to come indoors. Use caulk to seal gaps around siding, windows, chimneys, and vents. Install door sweeps and weather stripping to block openings under windows and doors. This will help keep both house centipedes out as well as the other pests attracting them indoors in the first place. 


Removing leaves and rotting or damp debris from around the edges of your home can help deter house centipedes. Keeping your landscape well-tended leaves fewer damp places for centipedes to hide.


If DIY methods don’t get the job done fast enough, another option is to call our team at Joshua’s Pest Control. We have the tools necessary to get rid of infestations, and we’re here to help you find the solutions that make sense for your home. 


At Joshua’s Pest Control, we want all of our neighbors to be comfortable in their homes. Seeing a house centipede skitter across the floor or wall might seem spooky, but you can rest easy knowing that there are options for clearing them out. Give us a call today to learn more about our services and get a free quote.


Author Bio

Courtney Enzor has worked in the pest control industry for about a decade. From helping you build a fly trap to giving you the best tips for identifying various bugs, she loves answering all your pest-related questions and sharing her pest-related expertise through writing. At the end of the day, she hopes her content will help people avoid mishaps and keep families happy and healthy!