Centipedes are found all over the world and can thrive in a variety of habitats, from tropical rainforests to arid deserts. One centipede species is even amphibious and can hunt and hide in both dry and aquatic environments.
Most of the time, however, centipedes favor damp habitats. This is because their exoskeleton lacks a waxy cuticle, which makes it hard for them to retain moisture in dry environments. Centipedes are usually found hiding in leaf litter or beneath rocks and rotting logs. They are also known to invade houses, and may set up home in damp basements and crawl spaces.
Why are centipedes attracted to houses?
Centipedes are traditionally outdoor bugs, so what attracts centipedes into people’s homes?
Like all pests, centipedes invade houses for three main reasons; food, water, and shelter. Centipedes are predatory bugs, and will come indoors to feed on other household pests (like spiders and cockroaches). They are also drawn to sheltered, damp areas, so a leaky basement or moist crawl space is the ideal environment for them.
What are house centipedes?
House centipedes (Scutigera coleoptrata) are a species of small centipede found throughout North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Their name comes from their tendency to congregate in buildings, but a house centipede infestation is nothing to worry about.
Keep in mind!
These lightning-fast bugs are fierce insectivores but only rarely bite humans, and are not known to carry diseases.
How to keep centipedes out of your bed
Centipedes like a warm, sheltered environment and it’s not unusual to find them under – or even inside – your bed. You can keep centipedes out of your bed by making your bedroom less hospitable to them. Set up a dehumidifier to reduce moisture in the area, and keep the spaces around and beneath your bed clean and clutter-free. This will remove potential hiding spots and discourage centipedes from living there.
How to keep centipedes away from your house
Centipedes are common house pests and often come indoors in search of food, water, and shelter. As insectivores, centipedes can be useful house guests and can help to prevent infestations of other, more troublesome pests (like cockroaches). However, large numbers of any bug can be a nuisance, so how can you get rid of house centipedes naturally?
Set up dehumidifiers
Centipedes (and plenty of other household pests) prefer habitats with plentiful moisture, so they are most likely to invade damp and humid rooms like your bathroom, kitchen, or basement. Setting up dehumidifiers around your house can help to keep these areas dry and less hospitable to centipedes.
Clear away clutter
Centipedes and other pests like sheltered spaces so, if your yard or basement is full of clutter, you could be creating the perfect habitat for them. Clear away unwanted mess and boxes in your basement to make it less hospitable to centipedes, and tidy up your yard to avoid encouraging pests onto your property.
Centipedes and other critters are most likely to hide in firewood piles, leaf litter and other organic debris, overgrown grasses, and around trash cans.
Seal off entry points
Centipedes have long, narrow bodies that they can squeeze through gaps and cracks in the exterior of your house. Inspect your windows, doors, and the outside of your house for potential entry points, and seal them up to stop centipedes from getting in.
Get other insects under control
Centipedes are insectivorous hunters and are attracted to places with lots of potential prey. If you have large populations of spiders, cockroaches, or other insects around your house, this could encourage centipedes to move in.
An integrated approach to pest management is key for preventing infestations. Keep your kitchen clean, your trash stored in sealed containers, and your backyard neat to discourage rodents, insects, and centipedes.
Kill them on sight
Large centipede infestations are uncommon, and most people will only see a few centipedes in their house.
Their numbers are usually so small that you may be able to get rid of them by killing the individual bugs when you see them. Unfortunately, centipedes are very fast, so this is often easier said than done.
If you do manage to chase down a centipede you can kill it using an insecticidal spray, or by using the old-school method of stomping on it. If you’d rather not kill the centipede, you can try catching it beneath a glass jar and releasing it outdoors.
Set up sticky traps
If you’re afraid of centipedes and don’t want to hunt them down yourself, sticky traps can be an effective, hands-off way to kill them. You can set these up around potential entry points, or in places where you’ve seen centipede activity in the past. Once you’ve captured a centipede, simply dispose of the sticky paper in your household trash.
How to repel centipedes
You can reduce the number of centipedes around your home by minimizing moisture, evicting any other insect pests, and reducing the number of harborage sites in your yard, basement, and other parts of your house.
You may also be able to keep centipedes out of your home using cayenne pepper, which is thought to repel bugs. Try sprinkling a thin layer of cayenne pepper near the entry points to your home to create an anti-centipede barrier.
Centipedes love damp, sheltered environments and often invade basements and crawl spaces. You can repel centipedes by making your house inhospitable to them. Use dehumidifiers and fans to keep the house as dry as possible, and seal off potential entry points to keep centipedes (and the bugs they prey on) out.