RSS Feed
Email this article
Printer friendly page

Ask Rick A Question


Summary: Giant centipedes once roamed the earth, or should I say, slithered along the earth. Either way, it would have required a lot more than your average pest control professional to rid a home of one of those big fellows.

Centipedes are highly evolved predators. Evidence in the fossil records shows that the modern day centipede had ancestors living 420 million years ago. Giant centipedes were among the very first land predators. In prehistoric times they could grow to over a meter long. That is one arthropod I would not want to tangle with. (An example of one was in the new King Kong movie.)

Today, centipedes are smaller; the largest specimens living in tropical climates can grow up to a foot in length. Most centipedes are smaller than that, usually only a few inches in length. Each of their body segments has a pair of legs. Small centipedes might have fifteen legs, while the largest have as many as 191. The large number of legs helps the centipede move very quickly and they make them seem larger than they really are. Centipedes can be distinguished from millipedes because millipedes have two legs per body segment.


Centipedes are beneficial insects because they feed on pests like cockroaches and crickets. Large centipedes sometimes feed on small birds, reptiles, and even bats. They attack by wrapping their long, modified back legs around the victim and then attacking it with two front legs that have been adapted into poisonous pincers.

Centipedes are not dangerous to humans, but they do have venom and they have pincers that deliver a painful bite. Most people report that the bite is no more painful than a bee sting, but some people claim that the larger centipede species have a bite that is extremely painful. Apply ice to a centipede bite to reduce pain and swelling. As a rule, the larger the centipede the more potent and painful the poison.

Centipedes are hunters and they need moist environments. Most centipedes only come indoors in search of food and soon die if they do not return to the outside. There are some types of centipedes that are known as indoor or house centipedes. These centipedes are usually shorter in length, maybe one or two inches, but they have much longer legs than outdoor centipedes. They have very long back legs and long antennae extending from their head. These centipedes move very quickly and can surprise someone who isn't expecting such rapid movement.

The best way to prevent centipedes from entering the home is to reduce moisture from around the house. Make sure that the gutters are moving water away from the foundation of your house. Also, clean up any leaf piles or wet mulch that has accumulated around your house. Centipedes have flat bodies, so they can squeeze through small cracks. Seal up small cracks around the foundation of your house to keep the centipedes out. If these measures are not sufficient you might want to apply a barrier pesticide around the outside of your house. Talstar granules, a liquid treatment of Onslaught pesticide or an application of  diatomaceous earth will prevent centipedes from coming inside. These pesticides will also help keep out bugs that the centipede likes to feed on. I know I don't want anything with more than four legs inside my house, so centipedes are a definite no-no.

Supposedly, centipedes have two brains, one on either side of their body. The claim is that you have to squash both ends of a centipede if you want to kill one. This is untrue. Centipedes have a head on only one side of their body and they will die if cut in half. Centipedes can detach some legs to help them escape from predators, but the notion that centipedes can regenerate body parts was confused with earthworms, which do have that ability. Now you know in case that ever comes up on a TV quiz show.

Ask Rick A Question


20 Aug 2010, 00:29
I read this and all the comments.. Now I can not sleep. i am terrified of them. But I do know how to prevent them from coming near u even though it might be annoying... KEEP YOUR LIGHTS ON! GET NIGHT LIGHTS . or so ive been told.
Hate These
03 Sep 2010, 02:48
I live in Middle Tennessee and got bit by what is called a Blue Centipede last year around this time. Somehow, it got in my BED! I had some allergic reaction to the poison and it left a round mark that scarred. Tonight, my one year-old cat caught one in my living room. It's the same type. What helps is spraying Home Defense Max. I'm going out to spray in the morning and will have my cats in a carrier while I spray the house. I hate these things!
23 Sep 2010, 02:30
Words can't describe the feeling of being all cozy in your bed then feeling some cold, fleshy thing on your leg, and when you pull back the covers there is a 5-6" CENTIPEDE rubbing all up on you. Now my leg feels weird and my blood pressure is sky high. OH, did I mention that while pouring a cup of coffee this morning a 5-6" CENTIPEDE crawled on my foot?!!! Yes, that is TWO in one day. I think I will go cry now:(
26 Sep 2010, 18:49
In July I just moved into my new apartment. I saw one od centipede in the bath room floor. I took it out.
then in September, it was 5.00 am. I was about ready for the trip. I saw another one was crawl to my bed. Luckily, I awaked. I don't feel comfortable to my bed as I used to. What else can I do to prevent or to propel this kind of insect?
How did/ where can it come to my apartment?
Any suggestion
26 Sep 2010, 18:53
I only moved to this apartment for 2 months.
I saw one last month in the restroomand another one this month was crawling to my bed in the early early morning like 5.00 am.
What can I do to propel this centipede?
How/where can they come into my apartment? Any specific I should be aware off? I'm so scared.
What else I can do to prevent this thing to my apartment?????I was on the second floor..
Ask the Exterminator
27 Sep 2010, 10:00
Like the article says, the centipedes are drawn to the outside foundation walls by moisture. Report the problem to your landlord and ask them to have the foundations treated with a granular insecticide. Tell your landlord that you have researched the problem and that you want to know what product will be used to resolve the issue.
13 Oct 2010, 22:20
I am definitely freaked out by the centipedes in my home. After I began constructing a room in my attic, I noticed that centipedes began to crawl around downstairs. I am concerned that I may have a big problem. Sometimes I see about 7-8 within a week. Tonight I saw a 2-inch centipede in my basement; which is dry, but I noticed that it ran into a crack in the brick wall. I plan on sealing those cracks. What can I do to get rid of these creatures? They have got to go!
21 Oct 2010, 13:24
I hate centipedes with a passion and my cure for those creepy little things is Clorox Bleach in the spray bottle. I keep it in the bathroom and in the kitchen where there is moisture. When I see them, they get saturated with the Clorox and I have no problem wiping them up with a paper towel. I also spray around the areas in the bathroom where they come in from and usually don't have much a problem after that. For those who want to go "GREEN" then you can find a product that works for you...but I don't want to see them in my house.
18 Mar 2011, 09:26
I have seen many centipedes in my bathroom.
I like them very much at the same time i am afraid of their bite. here in Bangalore
the centipede is 7 centimeters. i would use an electric net and give it an electric shock. then it cannot move fast.I take it up and observe it closely. they are absolutely amazing with those venomous claws. then i kill it quickly to end its misery. A little mosquito spray makes them weak may be because they are related to insects.
26 Mar 2011, 06:52
I recently purchased a raised ranch style home in which the basement foundation only has 3 concrete walls. The open section is where the built-in garage is. The basement is finished yet the only thing seperating the finished basement from the cold garage is an old, shabby wood-framed wall covered with paneling. When you walk into the garage during the day, you can easily see light shining through on either side. I am convinced this is where an assortment of insects are coming from. I have seen wood lice, centipedes, beetles in the basement. I also have spiders throughout the house. Recently the temperature reached 40 degrees (spring thaw) and I saw centipedes racing back and forth. I am convinced they are coming in through the garage and then finding a way through that crummy wooden wall. I assume by your articles that the wood lice are finding their way in and the centipedes and spiders are hunting them. I also see by your articles that I have much to do to deter them. I was thinking of installing central air which you said may help control a moisture problem. I was also considering tearing out the wooden wall seperating the garage from the basement and having a brick wall built in it's place to connect the open foundation walls. The house is 60 years old and some former occupant decided to landscape stone pathways with half-buried railroad ties. After many years these wooden ties are breaking down....I'd assume they are a smorgasbord for wood-eating insects. Although they may have looked pretty 30-60 yrs ago but now they are HUGE problem. It'll take a lot of work and / or money to remove those. I would imagine that if I eliminate the foodsource (woodlice)....then the hungry predators may be inclined to leave too (spiders & centipedes). Oh yeah, recently my girlfriend discovered a silverfish lying in bed in the upstairs bedroom watching TV! I mean we had just been lying there with the cover over us and happened to discover it sitting girlfriend is a nervous wreck due to this. We haven't found any more since. Could one of us have carried it in from outside...? Or could there be more and they're just good hiders...? Been spraying generous portions of Ortho Home Defense Max everywhere, and it "seems" to help, yet I don't believe we'll truly be rid unless I begin to take some of the steps aforementioned as well as others you detailed regarding granule perimeter, gutters directing water away from foundation and dacaying vegetation. This sounds like an enormous amount of time and money yet ridding myself of these "unclean" vile pests will bring MUCH peace of mind.
Ask the Exterminator
01 Apr 2011, 16:32
It appears you have it figured out. The rotting railroad ties, the cold garage, the abundance of insects are all signs of moisture. Figure out all the moisture problems and you will be on your way to resolving all your accompanying insect issues.
02 Apr 2011, 01:10
Does snake venom have any effect on gaint centipedes.
Ask the Exterminator
02 Apr 2011, 10:24
I'm only guessing, but I would say it would.
John Stonehouse
22 Apr 2011, 19:14
On the second floor bathroom of our house we see centepedes on a number of days. They are typiccally in the bathtub or the sink. Where do they come from and how do I get rid of them once and for all.

23 May 2011, 15:23
I live in Hawaii, and recently moved to a particular wet part of the island. We have been averaging about 1 giant centipede a month in the house. These are the big ones (usually about 3-4 inches but the largest was 7 inches long!). We already keep the house clean extra clean to help keep out the roaches (and we have a small army of geckos living in and around the house that help out with any smaller bugs) but there is nothing I can do about the humidity. I regularly apply pesticide around the house. But we still seem to get them. Does anyone know how to deal with these guys if you live on the windward side of Oahu?
Ask the Exterminator
23 May 2011, 15:34
I recommend using Onslaught insecticide around the exterior foundations. It's long lasting and will do a good job. Click on the link in the article above.
28 May 2011, 15:47
I live(d) in a very clean apartment in a "nice community". SIX of the eight units in the building vacated with in one month in March apx. Living there for four months I had not seen more thanan occasional ant or small spider. When the SIX units vacated, within a two week period, my apartment became infested with CENTIPEDES and vinegroon, beddbugs,and other unwanted guests. I was being bitten, unknown exact cause, prior to discovering these pests. The CENTIPEDE bites make me extremely ill. Fevor, Bathroom issues really bad!, sores tha are slow healing and leave huge scars...The centipedes were not discovered until after the other treatments... The manager saw it during an inspection walking across the carpets - which I begged to have cleaned. Pest control told me it was "harmless". As it turns out the place has many and I find them regularly when I check in on the place. They are the outdoor variety and the crew sealed up a long list of cracks and potential entry places - still they are there. I have been displaced to motels and my car and a friends because they say they have done all they can do to get rid of the CENTIPEDES. These are a nasty bite. My small dog was in the vet often with serious bites unkonwn origin, until we discovered the creepy crawly vectors. She was removed promtly. I have tried reentering the apratment because I was told it was "clean" of pests three times and each time being biten within one or two days, I end up back at the doctor and sick as heck... poisoned by the venom. It takes a long time for the venom to get out of my system and the effects of it are nasty. The itiching is off the charts for a long time, the sores burn and hurt , the dizziness and vomitting and diareah, etc. I cringe at the sight of them and have seen different sized ones allthe same look about them. I am told they are not agressive and prey on other insects for meals... this is and has been a nightmare. Health matters, emotional toll, financially imacted to homeless state - even though I pay my rent...I can't risk being biten so I can't stay there. I have not seen my lil pooch in a long time, but she is recovering and doing well now that she is out of that centipede infested apartment. My belongings remain in the apartment now & I live from zippy bags. No one seems to be helpful in this matter with resolving it. Before this our area was and remains troubled by the bark scorpion - and we lived in a home hat had them. The centipedes are much worse to deal with. There does not seem to be any assistance other than pest control and inspectos who have limited information. I fear this is becoming more a porblem here. I do not want to see others suffer as I have with centipedes. No one seems to take it seriously and I can assure any reader, they are more than "harmless". Pest control did retract that statement, by the way.
Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my email
The box below is for visitor comments! Questions posted in this box may not be answered by Ask the Exterminator. For quickest response click on the "Ask the Exterminator a Question" link at top of this page.
Security Image:



More Articles Like This

  • Owl Facts
  • Feeding Wild Birds
  • Caterpillar Sting
  • Scorpions
  • Fire Ants

  • Categories: