What has 30 legs, eats spiders and insects and can run 16 inches per second? If you’ve found this page you’re probably asking yourself those questions and need answers. I hope to clarify a little bit for you what this creature is.
A house centipede aka the Scutigera Coleoptrata centipede are one of those creepy house bugs (it’s not a bug!) you probably don’t enjoy seeing, and I can’t blame you for that, they look pretty terrifying. The house centipede in the photo above was discovered making a dash for the bathroom cupboard but made the mistake of racing into a plastic zip lock bag I had sitting on the floor. Muahahaha! Pre-packaged house centipedes, now if only I had a distribution network setup!
I got at least one nice close up photo of Mr./Ms. Scutigera Coleoptrata, (how do you tell a male from a female? does the male wear a baseball cap?) and a couple of fuzzy ones, and also some video of the little guy/gal moving around inside the bag-o-drome. These creatures, arthropods I guess (?), are pretty cool in design and functionality. I have found a couple of them here at the house and had them at my old apartment from time to time. When it rains they are driven indoors and tend to seek higher ground like your face! (no, sorry just being bad again), in my house at least. Wikipedia says that house centipedes prefer the first floor, but I’ve not seen one there yet. Update: Okay i found two house centipedes downstairs Scutigera’ing around the floors and walls being all centipedy like!
Interesting Note: The number of searches for ‘house centipede’ went WAY up on my stats during periods of high rain in the northeast an every year I get a spike, and every year I update this site multiple times, AND sometimes when I guess there’s a lot of rain in other places. There are big ripples in the statistics which seem to move with the seasons and the amount of rainfall we are getting across the country. Maybe after a few years I will analyze all of the house centipede searches of the long term and be able to make a usable graph for some reason. I mostly just love to watch statistics, so that would be excuse enough for a House Centipede Interest Chart.
They’re claimed to be one of the most beneficial of house pests according to the WikiPedia article on them and as to house centipede bites: “The bite of most house centipedes is incapable of penetrating human skin. Those that do give an effect no worse than a minor bee sting, and the symptoms generally disappear within a few hours.” additional resources say that in rare circumstances they can result in severe pain and swelling, but in most cases it is as stated above, their bites are mild annoyances. Read on to find the terrible truth about house centipede bites!
Further research of mine led me me to find out that house centipedes eats spiders, and insects… excellent! Okay, I let this one free into the planter. I have disposed of them before, and they are incredibly fragile, they almost dematerialize when you even lightly squish them in a wad of toilet paper. Their spindly legs pop off and, yeah, it’s just pretty weird overall. Imagine that, someone touches you and parts fall off of your body!
Also of interesting note, to some, and perhaps a bit scary to others some of these house centipedes can move as fast as 16 inches per second(!) Figure that 2″ is the large size, that’s 8 times their body length per second. So that would be like a 6′ human running at 48fps or about 32 miles per hour ( in actuality and fortunate for most of us, 16 inches per second works out to be a ground speed of about 0.9 MPH, do you feel any better!? )
Here are some additional stats:
Can house centipedes be completely eliminated from a home? My understanding from the reading I’ve done is that house centipedes cannot be completely eliminated from a home or from around a home. Spraying pesticides and placing sticky traps and other things will only have temporary success. I spoke with a local exterminator and he said that the best time to put down a pesticide for house centipedes will be in April if you want to get a lead on them. They will be back, though so you have to continue to treat. The guy I spoke to recommended granular insecticides around the outside perimeter of the home that specify they work on centipedes or house centipedes from one of the home stores. I’d highly recommend checking into one of the pest control companies in your area and see what you can do, some of them are linked around here on this site, but you ultimately decide if you need to go that far.
One other important thing is that house centipedes need a source of food to eat. Much like fellow broke friends in your formative years, if there’s nothing to eat at your place they’ll go to someone else’s place. If they’re hanging out at your place it means the centipedes are getting fed somehow, which probably means you may have a kind of bug-buffet going on somewhere in your house and maybe a reason to call an exterminator ‘pest specialist’ (like I mentioned previously), or whatever other politically correct name they have now, out to see whats going on.
You can reduce the number of house centipedes (scutigera coleoptrata) living and hiding in your home in a few ways. Of utemost importance is to seal the gaps around pipes in walls, seal holes in the walls, seal gaps around doors, etc. Basically seal your home like you would if you were trying to weatherize it. If you do this you’ll prevent bugs in your home AND save electricity or save fuel oil. The bugs can move around inside walls. In older uninsulated homes or open frame homes they have a lot more places to go. Keep your house dry, they prefer cool moist climates such as wet basements, showers, toilets, etc. Good basement and bathroom ventilation and maybe a mechanical dehumidifier can be important in reducing the desirability of your home as a centipede habitat. (same procedure to control molds as well, mold is evil, so prevent this too with one combined attack!)
In the winter months these little guys and gals are more likely to move into a warm area like your garage, basement or home, but they still need moisture as well so don’t be surprised to see more of them from Fall through Spring, most at the start and the end of those periods though. Sort of like college move in and move out times.
How is a house centipede born? House centipede eggs are laid in spring and early summer and they are born with 4 pairs of legs and as they grow they molt 5 times in their life. The female produces an average of 65 eggs in the Spring. Each egg is individually fertilized and ‘planted’ as opposed to some bugs 1000 eggs hatching at once in some freaky alien swarm routine. The centipede babies and the mother centipede live near each other for the first couple of weeks.
What eats house centipedes? Other house centipedes, Dogs, Cats, not a lot of other detail available that I could find. Pets such as dogs and cats tend to eat anything that’s creepy and runs around a lot. If you could actually watch some of the bugs they eat you’d probably be terrified, I don’t doubt that
What do house centipedes eat? They eat mostly smaller arthropods and spiders. They generally won’t attack anything that will outmatch them unless it’s in self defense. (I’m sure there’s always a few idiots in the crowd ‘hey hold my beers and watch this!’ but all species suffer from that one).
How long do house centipedes live? I’ve been doing some reading and have seen numbers like 7.5 year lifespans being thrown around to reach their large sizes. So when you see a really large centipede it means they’ve been there for a while, possibly living outside in your leaves and bushes and underbrush, and just coming in recently when it rained.
A question to my viewers: I seem to get a lot of people searching ‘house centipede eggs’. Are these a delicacy 😉 did you find some? Are you trying to get rid of them? Do you have a dastardly plot to seek revenge on someone and need some centipede hatch-lings? Do you have photos? I’d love to hear your input below in the comments because I’m completely baffled why you’d search for eggs.
Additional Photos: I snapped a couple of nice pics of a small house centipede, this one was only 2cm long and wandering around the bathroom. It’s pretty young as far as that goes as some of the bigger ones can be 2-3 times this size. Anyways I thought these couple of photos turned out nice. As I was trying to photograph the little guy/gal I put my hand down in front of it and it just went in another direction.. Every time! Which is about 20 times! I don’t think this qualifies as a baby house centipede as it has quite a few legs already, but it’s certainly young. I have seen smaller house centipedes than this but have never captured photos of them. This one is still alive and well as I left it, as were all the others that I photographed, though outdoors now!
If you enjoyed my page about house centipedes, or at least found it interesting, please share it with you friends or acquainted to show them the creepy beasts you have run across and if you have any photos or YouTube video, please share a link below (just put it right into the comment box).