How Did House Centipedes Get In My House?

Out of the corner of your eye you think you see something dart across the room.  You look… Nothing.  Now in a state of high alert you see something once again.  Your suspicion was correct, there is a small creature.  The dreaded house centipede!  After eliminating one of these horrid creatures you may be asking yourself how did they get inside in the first place?

House centipedes are most commonly found in the low levels of a house or in bathrooms where moisture is likely to be.  Outdoors they also live in moist environments under rocks, in rotting trees and close to where food can be found.  House centipedes are inside either because they entered from outside or are the offspring of a centipede that already made it inside.

House centipedes will enter through the first floor, basement or foundation of a building.  They crawl in wherever possible, commonly through cracks and holes in the structure of your house.  After inside they search out moist environments to call home.

Where did house centipedes come from?

The house centipede is indigenous to the Mediterranean.  The house centipede expanded outwards to Europe, Asia, North America and South America.  As a result of human travel, the house centipede has reported sightings across the globe.

If found running across the floor of your house these pests likely came from a hard to reach and untouched area.  This can be a couch, chair, storage container, sink, bathtub etc.  Normally you will only see house centipedes at night or if they have been disturbed by movement of their hiding area.

Why Are House Centipedes Attracted To My House?

House centipedes want get inside your house for four main reasons: food, moisture, warmth and harborage.  Some of the same reasons you probably like it inside your home.  If you are wondering what harborage is, it is any location that provides a pest shelter.  Below these four reasons are broken down further.

  • Food:  House centipedes consume common household pests such as spiders, bed bugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish and ants.  They are nocturnal, feeding and moving at night.  They mainly use their antennae when hunting despite having complex eyes.  An ability to move at an impressive speed of 1.3 ft/s gives them a clear advantage over their prey.
  • Moisture:  House centipedes cannot survive outside of a moist environment.  If you have any issue on the outside of you house that leads to water buildup it will attract these creatures.  Commonly these  include a leaky faucet, a pile of rocks, leafs wood chips, and dead trees.
  • Temperature: Much like humans, centipedes do not like the cold.  During winter months they look for warmer living conditions.  If the temperature is too warm the centipede will not be comfortable either, mainly because this will result in an evaporation of moist environments.  
  • Harborage:  Insects get close to your house in search of damp conditions to live.  Inevitably if enough insects are outside your house some will find a way in.  A great way to reduce the amount that sneak in is to eliminate these conditions around your house.

How and Should You Get Rid Of House Centipedes?

For some people the presence of a house centipede alone is scary enough to qualify for a squash on sight.  However, if you can get over the fear there are some reasons to let them roam free.

  • Pest Removal:  Save money hiring an exterminator and let the centipede do all the work.  Other pests enjoy eating and contaminating your food but not the house centipede.  House centipedes stalk and eat insects and spiders that can be found in your house.  They have no interest in the Doritos in your cabinet.
  • Harmless and Clean: After eating, the house centipede will take time to clean its legs!  House centipedes usually do not bother humans.  Despite moving at an impressive speed the house centipede is not interested in harassing us.  Bites are rare and they are nonvenomous.
  • Kept as Pets:  If you google “house centipede as pet” you will find some fascinating or otherwise disturbing tales.  Some people have recognized the benefits of allowing these creatures to live and even found a companionship.  With a life span of up to six years they may start to grow on you.

Maybe you think those reasons sound too much like something a house centipede would say. If you still wish to get rid of them here are the best ways to do so.

  • Eliminate Their Food Source: This is the best method because it will keep the centipedes gone for the longest amount of time.  If their is food in your house and centipedes outside, one will find a way in eventually.  Centipedes eat the other insects and small spiders found inside your home.  The most common pests house centipedes feed on are: spiders, bed bugs, cockroaches, termites, silverfish and ants.
  • Dehumidify: Investing in a dehumidifier can help limit centipede reproduction and infestation.  This is because of the centipedes affinity to moist areas.  Also using a squeegee to scrap water from the walls of your shower can help prevent moisture build-up.  Combine this with a shower fan and those centipedes will experience a drought like never before.
  • Outside Defense:  Outside your house try to prevent damp areas from existing and use a sealant to patch up holes around the outside of you house.  The garage can sometime serve as a highway for the centipede into your house.  Be sure to keep things of the ground and put away.  Centipedes can also find their way in through faucets and outside drains so keeping these covered will help stop them from entering.
  • Traps: A common method of inexpensive trapping is to place duct tape sticky-side up in areas of suspected high traffic.  These areas include: corners of the room, under couches, chairs and anywhere that’s dark.  If you check the trap regularly you will not kill the centipedes and can set them free to do mischievous things outside. 
  • Insecticides: These can be used to kill other pests, indirectly killing the house centipede, and to directly kill the house centipedes.  I recommend researching brands before purchase and checking the ingredient list to ensure safety.  Many strong insecticides present health risks. Check out of recommended resources for our favorite insecticides.
  • Vacuum:  Patrol areas where the centipedes are likely to be found with a vacuum in hand.  If discovered suck them up.  This will prevent reproduction and the resulting accumulation of more centipedes.  A fair warning to all centipede hunters that there is a certain need to avoid loud sounds.  If a house centipede hears a disturbance it will freeze before moving again.

In Conclusion

House centipedes get into your house however they can.  They come to your house in search of food and stay for the moisture.  Once inside an appealing climate and food source cause them to reproduce and keep appearing.  This is not always bad as they can help keep other pests at bay and are harmless to humans.  However, many people cannot stand the sight and wish to eliminate them through whatever means necessary.

In my personal experience I have not taken any extended measures to exterminate house centipedes.  If one however stays out in the open it will get squashed. I cannot look at them for too long without getting spooked.  

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