HOUSE CENTIPEDES ON THE MOVE

By Arthur V. Evans

The house centipede, Scutigera coleoptrata, looks more spider and less centipede as it motors up a wall, along a sidewalk, or across the kitchen floor.

One of my favorite non insect arthropod species is a fleet-footed fellow no more that one and a half inches long and has racing stripes down its back. Surrounded by a blur of legs in full stride, the house centipede, Scutigera coleoptrata, looks more spider and less centipede as it motors up a wall, along a sidewalk, or across the kitchen floor.

House centipedes are probably native to the Mediterranean region and have been accidentally transported to many parts of the world. In Tasmania, they are known as the “domestic quickfoot.” These curious animals are well-established across much of the warmer regions of North America, but have managed to penetrate cooler, less hospitable regions in the north by adapting to life indoors.

Outside, house centipedes are at home in the cool, dark, moist recesses of rocks, trees, and leaf litter. They are equally well suited to living in the basements, bathrooms, and drains of our homes, offices, and laboratories. Individuals are sometimes encountered when they become trapped in tubs and sinks, or are attracted to flying insects drawn to porch lights at night.

House centipedes are equipped with a pair of large compound eyes, which allows them to quickly identify potential prey.

Hardwired with a “need for speed” to capture agile prey and escape equally nimble predators, house centipedes possess an array of unique morphological features. The distinct, capsule-shaped head is equipped with a pair of large compound eyes, an exceptional feature among centipedes. Acute vision is probably a major asset when a house centipede must quickly identify a potential prey item while on the run.

The structure of the house centipede’s eyes is similar to those of insects and crustaceans. As a result, they have been the objects of study for scientists seeking to better understand the evolutionary relationships of house centipedes with insects and other arthropods.

House centipedes sprint at speeds of 420mm/second; a 5’8” human would have to run the same distance, relative to their height, at a speed of about 42 miles/hour. But it takes more than the long, slender legs of a sprinter to get these centipedes up to speed; it also requires plenty of oxygen. Their lung-like tracheal system is unique among centipedes and allows oxygen into the body quickly and efficiently to help power the numerous muscles that drive the legs.

Most of their 30 long, slender, banded legs are used not only for getting around and escaping predators, but also to help capture and secure prey. When attacked, the house centipede’s legs easily break off and continue wiggling for a short period, like a lizard’s tail, to distract predators. Fortunately, lost legs are completely regenerated after just one molt. Under ideal conditions, adult house centipedes shed their exoskeletons every 30-60 days for the rest of their lives, which may last up to three years.

Centipedes are the only group of animals that have their front legs modified into fangs that inject venom to subdue and kill prey. Although they usually feed on invertebrates, some larger species will also attack small lizards, snakes, birds, and rodents.

The venom of house centipedes is not particularly toxic, at least not to humans. They seldom bite. Descriptions of the bites of house centipedes range from “minor nuisance” to “severe pain.” However, serious effects from the bite are more likely to be the result of secondary infection than the bite itself.

House centipedes prey on scores of unwanted house pests, especially small spiders, clothes moths, and cockroaches. This one is dining on a crane fly.

Still, house centipedes have become one of those “bread-and-butter” species of the pest control industry. Company literature and web sites would have you believe that these curious and largely beneficial creatures are major household pests. As with many “pests,” the greatest harm involving house centipedes is the “bite” to your wallet caused by the unnecessary purchase of pesticides to control these needlessly maligned animals. The truth is that they do more good than harm because they prey on scores of unwanted house pests, especially small spiders, clothes moths, and cockroaches. And they do all this without charging a dime for their services.

© 2010, A.V. Evans

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144 Responses to “HOUSE CENTIPEDES ON THE MOVE”

  1. I grew up in CT and never saw one of these in 20+ years of poking around there under logs and everywhere, but after moving back after getting interested in entomology, found one and wondered what the hockey sticks it was, as it did not look like any centipede I’d ever seen. I don’t know whether that was due to it not occurring in the area that I grew up in, or just happenstance, but it is one impressive beast.

  2. I’ve yet to see one of these curious little beasts. I will continue to keep my eyes open and be ever vigilant…lol
    I agree with you on the needless scare tactics that pesticide companies use to earn a few bucks. It is the same with spiders. I have a few resident wolf spiders, they occupy the basement and provide for me a free pest control. I would much rather have them lurking in the basement than crickets, roaches, or other pesky little creatures.

    • Arthur Evans Says:

      The first house centipede that I ever saw was on the first day that I moved into my Insect Zoo office on the third floor of the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles. It literally ran across my foot while I was on the telephone!

  3. Sam Droege Says:

    I would enjoy seeing these periodically on the ceiling of my office at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center..the building was fairly tight so I always wondered what they were eating.

  4. I had the unpleasant pleasure of meeting centipedes on my vacation in Florida. I know they are harmful, but it really freaked me out seeing one in person.

  5. Yes, I have just seen and killed my third one in my house in Greenville, SC. Had to get online to find out what it was. Understand the benefits of this curious creature and appreciative of the works it does for me but to see on in person is just scary! Now, how do I “rid” my house of these creatures w/o using harmful pesticides (I have 2 small dogs)?

  6. BugFreekouter Says:

    Try diatomaecious earth, also known as cockroach chalk, non-toxic garden dust, etc. A large sack of it is cheap, but smaller quantities are about 10 dollars in houeshold amounts at garden centres; it’s usually in squeeze-bottles to blow the dust around where needed. The stuff is chemically neutral (and they may add a few trace-amount, safe attractants), and oit perates by sheer physical abrasive action. Pretty quickly, the exoskeleton leaks fluids through the scratches and the insect bleeds or dries to death. However, I’ve noticed that the material does not work on a few tough species like most spiders. Look it up on WikiPedia or other places, and get a small batch. It might work against these weird little buggers. Worth a try.

  7. house centipedes are horrible, disgusting creatures.

    • kike2000 Says:

      I do have story that will freak out many, but illustrate why I will kill these things every chance I get. I was about 10 yrs old, summertime here in Toronto. I recall being half asleep and hearing footsteps really close by, but half asleep just ignored it. Can recall feeling uncomfortable while hearing these footsteps. When I woke up, I was horrified to realize what those footsteps were……….it was a centipede that had been trying to crawl into my ear!!! How do I know this? Because when I awoke this huge centipede was dead on my pillow next to me. Apparently half asleep I must have smacked it before if fully crawled in. When I see one now I will not stop till it’s dead.

  8. Where there are house centipedes, it means there is something for them to eat. It’s like ridding the midwest of wolves/coyotes so now the deer population has exploded.

    You’re likely to have ants, spiders, moths, and cockroaches.

  9. Your Crazy Says:

    I would rather see cock roaches all day long then one of these creepy things! KILL THEM ALL!!!

  10. I am so thankful for this article. I kept seeing these creepy things and had no idea what they were, but was really worried they might be bad for humans. I guess now I can stop killing them.

  11. sunshowers86 Says:

    I get these all the time and I live by Lake Ontario. They scare the girl right out of me! So should I be capturing these for research and stop killing them? Really I would rather not but I have had like ten or more in my place!

    • Arthur Evans Says:

      I say live and let live. House centipedes are nothing to fear and no doubt prey upon insects in your home that you like even less.

      “Dr. Art Evans, entomologist” is on Facebook.

  12. Chris Bnette Says:

    Can any of you tell me what a bite from a house centipede looks like? I keep getting bit by something and I can’t figure out what it is. The bite looks like a 3/4 cm slit (granted my eyesight isn’t that great on small items so it could be a bunch of bites in a row, not sure). It seems to bite me once every 3-5 days for a little while, leaves me alone for a month or so and then starts all over. The bites get bigger each cycle. And I’ve seen house centipedes in my apartment. Ick! They’re a regular visitor. Help! and thanks!

  13. Just got a new place in New Jersey. I probably find one of these in my basement every other day. While I appreciate them killing all the other pests (although I haven’t seen any others), I’d rather not have to watch one run across the wall while I’m watching TV.

    I heard they love moist dark environments, so I got a dehumidifier and keep the lights on now. We’ll see if that gets rid of them. If not, I’ll probably have to give that diatomaecious earth stuff that was mentioned in a previous post a shot. Anybody have any experience with successfully getting rid of these things?

  14. Oh my God! Finally an answer! I have these all over my house here in the Sierra mountain foothills of Northern California. In the summer (when there are a lot of other bugs) we seriously get them almost every day and they freak me out so much. Every year there are more of them and I do not remember seeing them as a child.

    They are super, super fast and difficult to kill because of it, they’ll run under the couch in a blink. Luckily my dog usually eats them for me. I had no idea what they were, I’d just find them all over the walls. I thought it was a kind of spider cousin or something. Nice to know they aren’t going to kill me, but still, very, very creepy little creature, although kind of cute up close.

  15. Deanna Kalbfleisch Says:

    I don’t like these things one bit. they are creepy! my neighbor calls them “the bug from hell”. My question is do they bite and, are they harmful to humans? i have an 8 y/o son and he sensitive to insect bites.

  16. Wish I could hire some to assassinate some irksome cockroaches, and they would really freak out the neighbors when they come over! Even though they look freakish, they seem clean and harmless compared to roaches…

  17. Diana Raymond Says:

    I live in Canada and have a 4 level backsplit, and can’t get rid of the dang things no matter what I try. I keep my basement dry and bathrooms dry, I’ve even sprayed around and that stops them briefly, but then after a week or so they’re back in business, scurrying about, always after dark, always around 11 p.m. – 5 am- which is really creepy. It’s very true that they feed on all manner of other insects, for I have never seen a spider once since I started seeing the centipedes, and I almost never see a silverfish, sowbug, earwig, or other such creature. However, I don’t know which is worse. These centipedes are truly hideous, especially the really big ones (I call them “mother ships” because I am sure they are the mothers) and I can’t get over being seriously creeped out by them when I see them, which is almost every night in the summer months. Egads they are ugly and scary looking. My neighbors have them too so I know it’s not just me.
    When I go to bed and my son stays up till all hours, I am sure to hear “whack whack whack”, I know it’s my son killing yet another one with his dad’s slipper

  18. I saw one on the floor at work and it was hunched up like it was going to attack it was so scary looking. I can’t even look at spiders so a bug that looks like a spider and having30legs is even worst.

  19. I hate these so much!!
    I live in the basement and they are everywhere ):!
    They crawl on my ceiling’s,my wall’s,my bed,my dresser,my drawers,just everywhere!! I hate them so freaking much there gross and I get bit all the time )”:!

  20. I’ve been struggling with a crippling fear of these bugs lately. I just moved from the pacific northwest, where there are no house centipedes, to the east coast, where they seem to coat basement walls! After some research on how to get them away from me, I’m extremely relieved to learn that they’re not likely to crawl on me other than by accident on their part. I’m also relieved that they don’t bite to defend themselves. And even more relieved that they are eating bugs that are legitimate pests. Although, with the amount of adult house centipedes I’ve seen in this basement, it’s concerning that they have such an abundant food source.
    Thankfully I’ve been able to rid my room of their food sources so they should leave me alone. I used an insecticide/repellant around the doors and edges of walls to prevent them from being in my living space. I am unsure as to its effect on the centipedes themselves because they’re not on the list of insects it gets rid of, but so far it’s working really well. I am sad to kill the good bugs, but I have left them alone in the unfinished parts of the basement. I’m afraid to know what they’re finding out there…
    Thank you for this article, knowing the ”enemy” has helped me overcome my fear. :)

    • They have invaded the Pacific Northwest as well. I just saw one for the first time today, and my husband says he has seen a couple in our basement. They completely freak me out, even though they are apparently harmless. Still, they look like little alien invaders…

  21. I just saw my first house centepede on my front porch. I live in North County San Diego and have live on the West Coast for all of my 60 years … I guess they are starting to travel. This article helped, not only with identification, but, with peace of mind … Thanks …

    • Horsticulture Says:

      Spraying pesticides around your house to control centipedes is a short term fix that will usually do more harm than good in the long term. Centipedes in numbers is a sure sign of lingering moisture and/or a corrupt foundation of the structure. Once you get rid of them, you are left what they were eating..usually more pesticide resistant insects..Eliminate the conditions that promote their source of food and moisture and they will move on to better hunting grounds.
      I once put one of these in a wolf spider aquarium with 2 medium size wolf spiders..The aquarium was 25 gallons and loaded with bark and rocks. In the time it took me to set the jar down and find the centipede with my flashlight ( about 6 secs) It had already slain one of the wolves..it made short work of it and sought and ate the other as well within the span of 20 minutes, give or take..
      Awesome Predator!!
      The only gripe I’ve ever had with them is the lack of interest in Asian Ladybugs..

  22. Thank you for the article. Quite interesting. I live in a basement apartment in Chicago and find these buggers fairly often. I usually go about my business and they scurry about theirs. They are harmless and usually only show themselves when it is dimly lit. I always figured the centipedes and daddy long legs were at it, but this confirmed my theory.

  23. I live in Chicago too, in a duplex-down. I see them every week or so. They creep me out but I think they’re cool! They’re my wife and daughter’s bête noire, and we joke about them all the time. My daughter calls them “scootaberries”.

  24. i hate them ugly creepy bugs just kill them. p.s. how do i kill themi see the bugs like every day.

  25. should i like these bugs or still kill them. do they bite humons? :(

    • They eat other uninvited house guests, including cockroaches and spiders. Although capable of biting, they only do so as a defense. Seeing a lot of them in the house suggests to me that conditions are relatively moist.

  26. The first time I saw one was in northern Indiana – we saw them infrequently in our basement where our water softening unit was – it was also dark. I was Soo grossed out. They are so disgusting looking. Since Ive moved to DC (2 1/2 yrs ago), Ive seen about 5 in my apartment. I saw one last night in my BR and just missed smashing it. I was so upset, but I finally fell asleep at 12:30 am with the light on only to wake up at 3:30 am to see it on the wall – I tried again to kill it but as it was running across the wall, it lost its footing and fell to the floor. I tried to find it, but couldnt and I couldnt go back to sleep. I started to remove some things out from under my bed – yeah at 4 in the morning! so there are less dark hiding places and will seal crevices,etc. I know its still in this apt somewhere so Im procrastinating going to sleep. They really affect me for some reason. I hope I dont sound weird but tonight I bought an online mosquito bed net/tent, that also keeps larger bugs, spiders, etc out, it should arrive tomorrow…Im going to sleep in it until I take care of that little bugger!

    • melissa sturgeon Says:

      I just saw my first one ever. I live in southern KY and my back yard is barren river. I was terrified! I thought mutant centipeed! They have the same effect on me as a regular one does… I see it… immediately kill it… leave it there dead wherever it is until my fiance can come get it and throw it outside. My body gets overwhelmingly tense. Every hair on my body feels like it stands straight up. My skin becomes hyper sensitive and my heart feels like it’s beating so fast that it becomes a numbing feeling in my chest. I honestly no joke have a feeling that I am near death. I jerk uncontrollably to the feel of my hair brushing across my back when I move my head. It is f’cking ridiculous. I know it is an irrational fear but it over takes me completely. I lose all control to my fear and quit frankly I believe I am going crazy. This feeling lasts a good thirty minutes to an hour after the initial incident of seeing the bug. While in that heightened state of terror I compulsively check my surroundings the walls floors and ceiling in my house until I calm down. I am not exaggerating these feelings I get at all. Reading this you probably think it’s crazy but I assure you that’s exactly how I feel when I encounter any type of bug like this. It’s weird but I can see a spider and if I can’t kill it and it gets away I just forget about it and I’m fine but seeing a centipede almost kills me or at least that’s what it feels like. Is this normal? I am almost to the point of going to a psychiatrist for this fear. Has anyone else ever experienced this and did you get over it? What can I do to rid myself of this fear? It is unbearable and I am desperate. Thanks.

      • melissa sturgeon Says:

        Btw the only time I ever have such intense situational anxiety is when it comes to centipedes and closely related bugs. I have been robbed with a gun to my cheek and the fear didn’t even come close to what I experience when I see one of these bugs in my home. I know sounds crazy right? But I just don’t know how to control it :( :( :( :( and does being a 21 yr old female have anything to do with it? Is there a possibility I might grow out of it? There have been a few nights in the past I would see a cockroach in my bedroom at night and would sit tightly bundled up in the middle of my bed all night until morning with no sleep unless I passed out from being so exhausted and I seem to have grown out of my issue with those but not the damned centipedes!

      • Sorry that these amazing animals are causing you such concern. Knowing that house centipedes are harmless is the first step towards putting your fears in to perspective. Do consider shoring up your home so that house centipedes and other unwelcome guests can’t gain easy access. Check door sweeps, fill gaps between wall and plumbing, repair screens, and remove unnecessary plantings and debris (wood- and rockpiles) away from your house. All these things will go a long way to make your home less inviting.

      • Andrew kozych Says:

        You all are overreacting extremely. I always thought those centipedes were kind of cute. Since we got the dehumidifier, I’ve seen them less and less. I never knew what species it was though but they didn’t look like lethal stingers to me.

  27. [...] ***Centipede Community News Bulletin: Creepy or not, it must be mentioned that centipedes eat all the other pests that annoy us…flies, moths, even spiders (this particular meal doesn’t make me overly happy because spiders also have a job to do!).  So, if you are able to get over the creep factor (which I’m able to do somewhat so far because I don’t actually see them THAT often) and if your many-legged friends are able to keep well-hidden, they are actually kind of helpful. http://arthurevans.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/house-centipedes-on-the-move/ [...]

    • i know this is strange. but we love tehse guys, since as you realize they control all other more unpleasant creatures. i was wondering if you could catch a few if you see more. we will pay you $10 a bug. we’ll take as many as you can get. we have an old house in the city and need these guys! please let me know if you can help.

      • we’re in Toronto too. i’ll come pick it up. i caught 3 already. i put a plastic bowl on top to catch it. then a paper underneath to flip it into a jar. then transport. i really hope you can hlep.

      • Sorry, but I don’t have a supply of these animals to send. Keep things relatively warm and humid and you should be able to keep your home population going, assuming that there is enough for them to eat. However, they will not eat every last pest.

  28. I just saw my first one ! I live in Indonesia btw … at first I thought it was the common centipede. Thanks for the article !

  29. I realize the house centipede may have a role in our residential ecosystems by keeping the diversity and population of other insect species down, but I am not convinced this is a valid reason to even begin tolerating the house “pede” b/c 1. any other insect I may have Infrequently found in any of my past residences do not rival the disgusting appearance and speed of the pede (except for roaches) and 2. house pedes are not native to the US. If they are gobbling up bugs in our homes, they are doing so in natural environments, impacting the food chain in negative ways. Think about all our urban feathered friends (robins, mourning doves, catbirds, grackles) going without. Btw, I finally did find and smoosh that house pede – they are all legs so it pretty much disintegrated into dust, not even leaving behind a morsal of food for my other insect friends (the population of which will not increase with the loss of this pede). Their “benefits” are not impressive.

    • Horsticulture Says:

      I have never found one of these guys ‘in the wild’, EVER, and I have been an insect hunter and enthusiast pretty much my whole life. They are called a ‘House’ centipede for a reason. Its sad when people spread rumors based on speculation and very little else. If you want to try to give people advice it should be based on facts, not fantasy and speculations of fancy.

  30. I just wanted to add that I do not at all dislike insects as a whole or am “creeped out” by them – in fact I actually tend to feel bad about killing them and will put them outside. It seems wild that folks are writing about how they are thankful centipedes eat other insects, meanwhile they are living with centipedes coating their walls – too bad they dont eat each other! When is a good thing Too good! Its a “gift” gone bad.

  31. Victoria Murphy Says:

    A large centipede appeared in my New York City 3rd floor apartment the other day. He/she came out from under the radiator, and retreated there fast when I tried to touch it. It had 2 beautiful long feelers in front and about 6 behind — or were they legs? In addition, I counted 14 legs on each side. Black spots on the body. I thought it was beautiful, and big enough to make me hesitant to kill it — so I didn’t.

  32. Jjboone boone Says:

    Yea I have been seeing them for about six months, in the bathroom of my 100 year old south Carolina mill house and they are pretty freaky looking. So far I have had no bites from these many legged creatures, but I am worry about this due to their frequently rising appearance. Should I be worried about bites? Do they have the ability to pierce skin and if so how will it effect you exactly?

  33. I live in Richmond Virginia , an just had one running on the wall . It lost its footing an fell , so i killed it . Thing was crazy looking , so I looked it up on Google an this page really helped out . Do they come in packs like roaches ? Or are they usually seen one at a time ?

  34. I hate these things. Mostly because when I’m laying in bed at night they crawl up the wall and onto the celieng. Usually whike going across the pop corn ceiling they fall off. Sometimes on me. -_____- otherwise I wouldn’t mind the things. As well in the dark (I’m like a cat attracted to movement) I see then and think they might be brown recluses which we have always had a problem with. My mother is arachnaphobic so I have to deal with her screaming as well. (and just FYI the spiders are usually about the size of a half dollar or bigger O.O’.) I will say this 165 lb person cannot climb a shower wall. (there was a nest in the shower when we first moved in) so just wondering anything to take care of the spiders other than bug bombing? (I currently live in
    Missouri and we usually get tarantulas but at least they stay out of the house)

    • Spelling errors are going to annoy me….that’s what I get for typing fast and not checking what I wrote -.-‘

  35. william Says:

    Well, if they kill spiders too I think I’ll stop killing the centipedes. We see at least one a month. Some have been HUGE. ick.

  36. I am new to North Carolina & found one of these on my bedroom wall today. I had never encountered one before as it is hot & dry in west Texas. I didn’t bother it & decided to find out about it online. Now I’m itchy all over thinking they might crawl into the bed with me. How likely is that?

  37. now that’s summer lately i’ve seen alotta those in my house, my baby now has some weird chicken pox looking bites, im wondering if these creatures are doing that to her during the night, very itchy too ;(

    • Sorry to hear about the bites on your baby. I feel confident that something other than house centipedes is causing the problem.

    • Those chicken pox kind of looking bites must be from house centipede bites. I live in the basement and I have found a few of these awful looking creatures living with me. I do not have any other insects that can cause such bites, because I also had a bite which resembles chicken pox, about 10 to 15 red bites on my thigh, which was I ichy at first and then started to swell and pain after a few days. The pain was so bad that I had to go to a doctor who gave me some antibiotics..I have very sensitive skin… I don’t kill them when I find it, but pick them up in my dust pan and throw them out of the house…I want to let people know that they do bite even if you don’t do anything to them.. I guess I was bitten at night while I was sleeping in bed.

      • It is very unlikely that house centipedes are biting you. They would much rather avoid humans whenever possible! I suggest carefully inspecting you sleeping area for other possibilities.

  38. I recently moved from very dry Bakersfield, CA to Nebraska and saw one of these little guys about a month ago in the kitchen when we first moved into our house. I saw one again this morning scurry across the bedroom wall when I flipped the light on. I showed my husband and he said “it’s probably a centipede or millipede” so I had to look it up. I know centipedes can be dangerous but this little guy didn’t look right to be the dangerous kind I’ve seen in pictures. Thanks so much for this article. I wasn’t freaked out by him so much as curious as to it’s purpose in the house. Low and behold it belongs in the house. (So to speak). Our house is really moist right now with two window units dampening up the place so I’m not surprised to see it. And as long as he doesn’t bother me, I won’t bother him. Thanks for the article it really helped.

  39. My neighbor told me that a centipede shed it’s legs on his bed and he thought they were little bugs because they were still moving around. ?????

  40. Brent M Says:

    House centipedes are the only bug on the planet that bothers me.

    I used to collect all kinds of insects, and let them crawl on me without any care. But not centipedes.

    They are ugly, fast, and have a bad habit of falling off of the celing at the worst moments possible. Like when they are right above your head at night.

    I know they are harmless, and kill pests, but i would rather have spiders and ants make a permanent residence in my bed then touch a centipede with a 10 foot pole.

    Its funny because the other species of centipedes (those shiny red ones you find under rocks) and millipedes do not bother me.

  41. Those are all over the place ini my apartment. I see them all the time. Mostly in the bathroom or a corner of my bedroom. They dont scare me. Sometimes I just stare at them and all their legs until the move and I just let them leave

  42. This thing creeps me out could a bite harm my 10 month old baby or our new born infant. I find shout crawling by the cribs. Any home remedies to keep them.away

    • Do you find house centipedes in your home? If not, I would not worry about it. If you do have them, it is unlikely that a house centipede would bite or crawl into a crib. If you are still concerned, keep the crib away from walls and put each leg on an open, face-up sticky trap to capture anything that might want to crawl up. Again, it is unlikely that they would crawl into a crib.

  43. Kristin H. Says:

    I find one trapped in my tub or bathroom sink every few months. I catch them and turn them loose outside. Yesterday I found a tiny baby one and thought it was time to find out what it was and if it was worth worrying about. After reading this article, the next one I catch I’ll turn loose… in the house! Thanks for the info!

  44. I have seen 2 in the kitchen… on the floor. Should I bother of them ever coming to my bedroom or livingroom?
    also when they are more likely to be… here gets cold and snows a lot, so I don’t know if that will keep them away or is when they get out the most.

    • Fall is generally the time that JCs are on the move and they will dig in for the winter to avoid freezing. Shore up gaps under doors and around plumbing and vents to prevent them from crawling into your home..

  45. We live on the 3rd floor. We have been having more centipedes come into our place the past few weeks. They seem to come in cycles, every few months or so. I understand that they will only bite in defense, but I saw one on the wall next to my sleeping 1 1/2 year old (his bed butts up to the wall) and it freaked me out. What are the chances of the centipede biting my son who loves to move about in his sleep? Our place is rather dry, we deal with static electricity from our blankets and clothes. Not sure if they are coming from the attic or the pipes so I know we can’t try to correct the reason for them entering our place.

  46. I have to admit to a full blown phobia of house centipedes. Odd because I don’t mind centipedes that stay outside. Anyway, I’ve been wondering about something…I see what appear to be centipede bodies without legs and centipede legs without bodies…how many legs can they shed at once? And short of predation, what would make them shed their legs? One I found like this in a glue trap, but another was legs on a wall and the body on the floor a few inches away, and another one was crawling around on very short legs all around its body. I hate to admit it but I have had pest control out to get rid of them, and I wondered if the pesticide could make them shed their legs like that.

    • The legs will break off as a defense measure, like a lizard losing part of its tail. Some of the “bodies” may actually be shed exoskeletons, too. These and other arthropods (insects, spiders, crustaceans, etc.) must periodically shed their exoskeletons in order to grow.

  47. I was hoping you could tell me what this critter was that I saw in my bathroom. It was long, almost like an outside centipede, but it was very skinny (thread-like). It was brown with many legs, not like the house centipede. It was much longer, skinnier, with many more legs than the house centipede. It had two long antennae on it’s head and was slow moving. I saw it on my bathroom ceiling.

  48. christina Says:

    Are centipedes harmful to pets? My cat tends to eat spiders and other bugs around my apartment and I’m worried he might be eating centipedes too. I have seen some running around and a couple of dead ones and my cat has been throwing up lately so I’m worried.

  49. I keep finding them in my house everytime I turn around, but it wasn’t until Spring started. Honestly, I am scared to death of bugs. I hate spiders and guess what they look like.. Spiders. So along with any other bug, it gets killed. I just found one right before I logged onto this website and I can’t even walk into my bathroom until my husband gets home because it’s in there lol.(:

  50. First time i saw one of these Centipedes it didn’t look anything like one, I looked like it was running on its hind legs 3 inches off the ground and was running across the living room floor, i was reading a huge book called pillars of the Earth (awesome book) and the thing i’ve never seen before was getting away, i threw the book at him, he was way too fast to catch! I got it! When i picked up the book it was dust, barely anything there at all! This huge thing was mostly air! anyway i hadn’t seen another in three years, til today i killed a small one resting on my wall and had enough left of its shape to look it up. I’VE GOT TO SAY I’M RELIEVED! Though i do wonder of the difference in the two, one was at least 4 inches high if you count off the ground area and on the ground area of the huge one. Both had long legs in back (huge one walked on these) like long spider legs and smaller centipede legs towards front. Are these the same things? It had the stripes down back, antenna and look similar to centipedes.

  51. I live around central NY… Hearing shrilling screams from the four children eating breakfast in the kitchen I darted in there to find one of these little guys!! Creepy, unfortunately this one did not make it due to the intense fear instilled in the children, one of which who thought it was a scorpion.. but ewww.. I will be ok never to see these things again!!

  52. Amberworks Says:

    Just found one of these creatures on the ceiling above my bed at 1′ o clock at night. Gave me a major fright, it did as I hate bugs. Grabbed my phone on the bedside table and did quick research by literally googling “house bug with lots of legs”. Found this page and learned that it was a house centipede. I’ll leave it alone since it does eat major pets like roaches. Though I know stinging is rare, just the thought irks me. I have been stung by a bee and wasp before, and I plan on not being stung by a centipede.I will be moving to the couch tonight and it will be gone by morning, I bet. I don’t like the thought of a bug, a stinging centipede no less, hanging out, watching me sleep 8I.

  53. I have seen seen them over a period of time come &climb walls,leave thru vents in floor brownish in color with distinct color on legs,small tiny ones to huge ones,in Indiana!

  54. A guy in Bennington Says:

    I was just watching the Planet Earth series and what do I see, this big, nasty…..EEWWW ! The guy says,” it’s a giant cave centipede ” and I said to myself, “Those are the things that have freaked me out since I was a little kid, now I know what they’re called.”. I grew up in Jersey and I’d see them all the time in my grandparents den late at night with TV on. I remember the huge floor model TV casting it’s electric blue glow over the low pile carpet, when suddenly this finger length creature appears. It stood motionless, positioned halfway between me and the TV, the light from the TV make it look huuuuge. Then it jetted into the shadows. When I finally saw one up close, I said,”what the hell is that?”, as well as being grossed-out by all the long legs, antenae, etc. but I always wanted to identify this….”thing”. Others that have posted on this site stated they were “creeped-out” and these “pedes” and they give me the “willies” as well but I wasn’t affraid until you said that they can bite. I know you’ve stated that it’s the exception, not the rule that people get bitten, but that’s all I needed to hear. Especially when you said bites can be severe. I wonder what that feels like? No thanks.

  55. Irrationalfear Says:

    Do house centipedes prefer climbing on walls and across the floor only? Or are they fine with furniture as hiding spots? I know they prefer dark, damp places but dark as in dim or pitch black?

    • I have seen house centipedes, indoors and out, in all of the situations that you mention above.

    • kristopher k Says:

      They are going to mostly stick to cover, avoiding predators while looking for food. Basically anywhere you see Ants, Spiders, or other crawlies lurking. These are good bugs, would you rather have one of these crawling around your house or 50 spiders?

  56. beatriz Says:

    Do centipedes bite people and what do you do to kill the centipedes

    • There is usually little need to control house centipedes in the home. They seldom bite and do so only in defense. Seeing more than one in a house is sometimes an indication of the presence of other insects and spiders upon which house centipedes feed. High levels of humidity indoors also attracts house centipedes. Your best bet is to address these issues first. If this is not possible, I recommend consulting a licensed pest control operator.

  57. […] I’ve identified them and put them on record for good. It would seems that these house centipedes are more good than […]

  58. Sabrina Says:

    I just killed two of these things in my room, and I know I’ll see more, seeing that I sleep in the basement of my house. I first saw one at my grandma’s house and then I saw one in the sink. They are so creepy looking but I guess if they eat spiders, then I’m okay with them. Not only do these things dwell in the basement, but grass spiders as well.

  59. kristopher k Says:

    In Vancouver Wa. I was alerted by my wife screaming from the bathroom around 4am. one of these amazing little buggers ran past her. i came in and did the live capture and release. its my first time seeing one of these guys. any time i find strange bugs i try to identify them to make sure they are safe to release and not a harmful invasive that i need to kill. i found a Devils Coach Horse last year, also an amazing insect.

  60. I wish I knew if the House Centipede is what I’m seeing but nobody has discibed it exactly the way I would.. The creepy buggers I have in my apt look similar and are very quick, but when I do catch one with a paper towel, they basically disinergrate!! It’s as though they are real and then puff- gone! Still creepy looking though! I love when my cat gets them first! SJK

  61. OMG! I just saw one in my bedroom! i googled millipede looking thing and im here..This article makes me feel somewhat better knowing It won’t kill me, But I Sleep with my mouth open, What if it decides to crawl in, or crawl in somewhere else?! AAAAARGH!! I think I have no choice but to clean my room:( Hmmm wonder how much a cleaning lady would cost to clean one bedroom? Yup gotta look into that:)

  62. does the house centipede in fact humans or harm their pots like cats I found one this morning was able to get and crush it was hoping it didn’t hurt my cat do they possess a poison if they bite you or cat

  63. These things get in my room all of the time and they freak me out. I can’t even kill them. I’m like frozen with fear.

  64. Wow, thank you!
    I just moved into a new apartment in Baltimore City last week. The building is from 1907 but it was gutted & redone 5yrs ago. The backyard is soil & overgrown trees. Very close to a large park & lake.
    Having experienced an awful roach infestation a few years ago, before I moved in I loaded the place up with bait, just in case (people below me & above, the gal below sees mice.)
    Last night I was scooping the cat litter, and saw what I thought was a roach scurry FAST across the box. I dumped a scoop on top of it & was petrified! I unearthed it when I was done, and could tell it wasn’t a roach & thought centipede.
    10hrs later, I saw one scurry from the bathroom across the hall. Somehow I got that sucker in time to smash it.
    In reading all your valuable information, I see it’s not the end of the world. However, I’m very bug-phobic & I know my cat would freak out if a bug was in her litter or food.
    Do they nest in people belongings or carpet? Do they get into food? More common at any particular time of year? I just moved a ridiculous amount of books, clothes & furniture into this apartment, and unpacking boxes is likely to take a while. I can’t stand the thought of uncovering egg sacs in my things (or however they lay.) I’ve heard it said for every roach you see, there’s 50-100 you don’t. What kind of ratio are centipedes?
    Thank you for your time, I realize I probably sound like a nut…

    • Summer seems to be prime time, but they can be found indoors throughout the year. Can’t say how many house centipedes you might have in and around your abode, but I do understand the excitement they generate when they are seen for the first time!

  65. Bridgett Rivera Says:

    Thank god for this site….I thought all these dang centipedes and spiders in my house were co-conspirators and started mating to run me out of here…they sound cool but find on on ur bathroom floor cocked up looking at u at 2am and u wont be going riiighght back to sleep…at least im not….ughhhh

  66. Cassi Thompson Says:

    Oh my gosh!!! I was rudely awaken by my 8 & 4 year olf this morning when they found one of these in their playroom… They may be good for eatin bugs but I babysit and I cannot have this! Luckily my 4 year old was quick to kill it! They asked what it was and I was just like… I don’t know but it is CREEPY!!!

  67. Having an issue w one big one that comes into my room but then sees me and turns back, quick as lighting. My landlady is an entemologist and I saw her pick one up with her fingers, no problem, to show some kids that were over; getting bit wasn’t an issue for her. Still, I don’t like them, and my mom suggested wiping or spraying the edges of my mattress w lemon oil or pledge to deter them from going there.

  68. House Centipedes are awesome! The eat the harmful bugs. They pretty much keep to the dark but you might see one when it is getting a drink in the kitchen or bathroom.

  69. I just found one dead in a vase in our bathroom. I’ve never seen one of these this far north (Green Bay, WI). If I’ve already found one, should I be concerned of a nest or colony??

  70. I’ve seen pics of other species within scutigeridae- some of the cave species are quite a bit larger than the common house centipede, and their compound eyes appear to have many more facets as well as being turned more to the front. Some of these critters have spikes coming out of joints on their legs and antennae, so they look a bit more fearsome. Would be very interesting to compare their brains, visual capacities, intelligence.

  71. Jeff Liechty Says:

    I know they’re not arachnid but what could possibly be creepier than a 30-legged spider? I just found the first one I’ve ever seen–in my 57 years–in my kitchen sink and I think I’d have been less disgusted had it been a diamond back rattler.

  72. I found two centipedes today in my kitchen. They make me creepy inside. I killed one with a shoe, then I was curious what else was in my kitchen so I put down a sticky trap. It caught the HUGEST centipede I have ever seen. Poor thing got flipped on its back and all those legs made me want to throw up, literally. I had trouble eating dinner. I am glad they are harmless, except to my mind. I hope the sticky trap catches whatever they are eating cuz I am in a third floor apartment. I know they usually like wet and dark places. I keep a lot of recycled cans in my living room, but you claim they don’t eat bugs. I thought I had bed bugs about a month ago so pest control was here and put sticky traps in my room. He said I don’t have bed bugs. Nothing on the sticky traps for the month, until I moved one and caught that disgusting things with a zillion legs. Ugh!

  73. Vicki Daigh Says:

    I lived in Western Oklahoma until I was 43, moved to South Texas for 8 years, then moved to N.E. Oklahoma. Purchased a home on a large lake. Our home is on a beautiful wooded lot with lots of trees, and is fairly rocky. The first night in our new home one of these scurried across the kitchen floor. I was paranoid. Had never seen one. Started noticing them in the bath tub occasionally. Oh course we killed them and sprayed, but they come back occasionally. Found another one this morning and had to find out what it was. Now that I know they won’t hurt you and do eat other more harmful insects, (and believe me we have plenty of those around the lake) they won’t bother me as much. Can’t say that I will join them for a bath, but feel better about the critter now.

  74. When I had an apartment up in Danbury, we would see at least 3-4 everyday, and the landlord sprayed the place, but it made no difference. We saw big ones, little ones, medium sized ones. The freakiest thing is if you ‘wake’ one up. They’ll rise like demons and dash away. Now we have the in our home after I brought some furniture back from the apartment, and they upset me something fierce. They were crawling on EVERYTHING in that apartment and we live in wetlands so moisture is going to be a problem. Soon we’ll be spraying to get rid of them, hopefully!

  75. katie moir Says:

    Yuck!… I found one of these things just last night scurrying about my floor. I’ve never had one climb up the walls and onto the ceiling and fall on me before, nor do I want to even start. I like the idea that they eat other bugs, since I always get my bedroom infested with little household spiders all the time during the warmer seasons. One night, I had a big mama like spider and an itty bitty baby spider at the bottom of my bookshelf where spiders usually catch bugs to eat. When I checked back the night afterwards and thereafter, the spiders were completely gone. I wondered what happened to them. After seeing this gross little thing come scurrying around my floor and reading this article, I then knew what happened to my little spiders friends. About 4-5 hours after I saw this huge fat spider that I thought was a beetle running around more floor and killed it with my slipper, it then became the middle of the night for me. I woke up from a good snooze, and saw this thing floating around my floor and zooming around looking for something. I got paranoid and so sick and tired of not knowing what these things were. At first, I thought they were scorpians, then caterpillars, then super fuzzy-looking silverfish. After getting paranoid enough to finally look online what they were, I saw it was long hairs that looked like it was all over its body when it moved, but was a bunch of legs. These things look so nasty, but I’m greatful they are taking care of my pest problem. I always get some many bugs in my room in the summer. I live in Canada, Ontario. Just 45 minutes away from London. When I killed these things before hand, it always looked like they were floating and were all fuzzy with really long hairs all over them, but I never seen one up close, nor do I want to. When I killed them, it was like as if nothing was even there to begin with. I always had to look in the paper towel to make sure I got the thing and that what I got wasn’t something I was just imagining. I am super glad this article is up with all the different facts, but I wish the little fuzzy-house centipede looking thing would keep in the dark and not come out in the main open areas where humans lurk. I like to see bugs on the net or on a piee of paper drawn, not in real life. Seeing the picture of its face makes it actually kind of cute, but when I see one in real life, the hair on my body stands up on end, and I get all skittish.

    If I don’t notice the bug, my cat will find it and start pawing at it, like it’s some sort of game. It freaks me out and I pull her away from it. I’m afraid it might harm her if she eats it, or if it bites or stings her.

    Are these centipedes poisonous if eaten? How do they reproduce? How can I keep them out of my home? And, will it harm any of my pets (All of them are cats.)?

  76. […] was before the internet so I had no way of knowing that house centipedes are pretty harmless, and actually good for houses because they take care of other pesky insects (I found that out later […]

  77. Bill Hawkins Says:

    It’s now 5:00 a.m. here in Simpsonville, SC. Fifteen minutes ago, while laying in bed, I received an unmistakeable “sting” under my arm. It felt like a needle prick. I alerted my wife and we turned on the light and got out of bed. When we pulled back the bed clothes we found what I now know is a house centipede. The bite is now a welt and still stings but I was pleased to hear it isn’t serious.

  78. I was going to the bathroom in the middle of the night and one of these was on the wall in there and it scared the heck out of me at it’s size. I described it in an image search and ended up here. I had a feeling it was in the centipede family, but I wanted to be sure. I have never seen one before, and surprisingly, I live in northern IL. So, I’ll probably leave it there on the wall to scare my family…

  79. Here is the deal centipedes are not as fun as many people may believe. This is coming from a 17 year old who has been stung 7 times in my short life span. Depending on the area where you where stung the pain will differ. The sting to my lip, corner of my eye and thigh hurt a lot more than stings to any where else. They all became swollen and the area around it black. They just seem to gravitate towards me. I would just be sitting and one would crawl on me *shudder* trust and believe me if u see one kill it. The ones I’ve seen don’t seem to stick to corners like some have suggested they tend to run in an almost straight b-line. However my experiences may differ from other persons. I have met people who have never been stung who have even swiped at them and still not be stung *sighhh*. P.s I live in Barbados so my centipedes may differ from yours. The baby’s stings tend to hurt worse than the adult unless it’s the large black ones those are toxic I’ve seen them take out rodents and birds with ease however they are not very common *praise God*. Your opinion on centipedes will differ because of your experiences you have to he felt the pain of their sting to realize that they are not merely harmless pest but that they can do serious damage.

  80. James McC Says:

    3fj w/ A Q 4 U. do u know if they eat bed bugs?

    • Good question. They are opportunistic predators and attack any arthropod that they can catch, but I do not know of any records of house centipedes feedings specifically on bed bugs.

  81. If nothing else finding this site has provided me with more than a few belly laughs! Good to know I am not the only person to be utterly repulsed by these creatures. I have always assumed they come up from the granite basement of my 100+ yr old house in MA which has some dirt floor crawlspace areas (covered with plastic). What I have wondered is why they come straight up to my second floor without stopping on the first. No 1st floor tenant has ever mentioned seeing them. I assume they are traveling up along water & radiator pipes. Is there a reason that they would find higher levels appealing?
    Opened the basement bulkhead door today and was greeted by 2 of these disgusting creatures scurrying away. Dehumidifier is now ON. May have to buy the diatomacious earth. Catching them on a sticky trap would be too disgusting.
    The 1st one I ever encountered was in a basement apartment 40 years ago & easily 10″ long. Won’t go into details about killing it.Ugh! I try to remove helpful bugs from my home in one piece, but these suckers will die if I can outrun them, though killing them is a totally nauseating experience. It has something to do with the amount of legs & it’s speed, I think.

    • the tenant on the first floor might be less observant than you… why don’t try double sticky tape-the type you use to cover the windows with plastic- to use around your entrance doors on the second floor and let them live in the basement? i kill the ones that venture upstairs, or now my cats catch them and the spiders so i don’t have to worry anymore, but i don’t really carry if they live in the basement. they catch other bugs like the article explained.

      • I ‘m sure they are coming up around the plumbing and radiator pipes as both my doors are to the outside, not any interior halls. There are metal rings theoretically covering the holes but there’s plenty of room for them to crawl through. I suppose I could use the sticky stuff around every pipe (there are a lot), but that would end up in a mess of dusty tape I’m sure. I’ve got the dehumidifier in the basement going full time now. Hopefully the dryness will dissuade them. My laundry machines are down there unfortunately, but because of the dimness of a stone basement I could have vampires down there and not see them.

  82. thanks for the article! i have them in my very wet basement and they would, on occasion, crawl into my living spaces and freak me out…but not anymore! my two kitties keep all critters in check, they love catching centipedes!

  83. this bug WENT IN SIDE MY WALL WTF!!?!?

  84. So I live in Michigan, have for basically my whole life. Never have I seen anything like this spectacular insect/animal before I moved into the house I live in now. These things are insane. I considered them a pest until I read up on them, they are pretty unique. I was for sure that they run in packs like ants or roaches but they don’t, which I’m pretty grateful for haha.. Yes you may find a few in the area but they work alone and they go after the same pests we all hate. I did find one tonight that has me a little consigned, they are only supposed to reach 1.5 inches in length but this guy was huge and I mean like about 1 7/8″ – 2″ huge!!! I had to kill it :( I couldn’t imagine it crawling around in my sons room

  85. Ewwwww!!! I just killed one that was walking across the ceiling. I was wondering why my cat was meowing and staring up in the air! I’ll be awake all night….afraid one’ll fall off the ceiling and into my mouth! Yuck!

  86. Want them all dead, sorry not sorry, horrible demon bug.

    • I’m with you. Funny how many of us are truly revolted by the looks of these creatures. I don’t have a pest problem, only an occasional spider and I let the small ones be. If it’s a large spider I transport it outside where there are more bugs to keep it going. After all, they don’t pay rent and I get to choose my guests.

  87. do they bite I found one on my wall today and I would like to find out some more about them …. I mean I don’t know whether to fear them or not to me they look kreepy

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