What has uncountable legs and a nasty bite? The ‘humble’ centipede, an invertebrate that looks as if it came straight from your nightmares!
What Are Centipedes?
Contrary to popular belief, centipedes are not insects – they are closely related to lobsters and crayfish. Depending on the species, a centipede can grow anywhere from 1 to 12 inches or more (Source).
Also known as a ‘hundred legger,’ a centipede is easy to spot with its long and elongated body and the dozens of tiny legs it has. Contrary to popular belief, it can have anywhere from 15 to 77 pairs of legs rather than a hundred. Depending on the species, the body is typically dark brown or yellowish in color and some also have dark stripes and markings (Source).
Most centipedes live in soil and leaf litter, while the nocturnal ones spend their days hiding under logs and stones to remain moist. You can find them under rocks, large debris, and even in burrows. Their jaws contain poisonous glands which start from the first segment that is behind the head. However, if one bites you, you will only feel a minor sting. If you are allergic to insect bites, you may get a nasty reaction.
How to kill centipedes? Read on to find out.
Getting Rid of Centipedes
How do you get rid of centipedes? No need to evacuate if these pesky critters invade your home. Here are a few preventative tips that can help you see the last of them:
1. Preventative Measures Against Centipedes
This is one of the best answers on how to keep centipedes away. Figure out what kind of anthropods are their main food source in your home by setting out sticky insect traps. The pests will die out when they starve (Source).
Use cayenne pepper
The capsaicin in cayenne pepper is a natural insect repellant. Sprinkle it at entry points within and outside your home to prevent centipedes from invading. That is the best answer to how to keep centipedes out of your house.
2. How to Get Rid Of Centipedes in Your House or Apartment
Centipedes have to remain moist to survive. Use dehumidifiers to dry out areas where the pests are concentrated and grade the soil around the building to ensure proper drainage. This is one of the popular home remedies for centipedes.
Centipedes love small and dark spaces. Remove clutter from your home to eliminate their hiding spots and to shake some loose (Source).
3. How to Get Rid Of Centipedes in Drains or Basements
Fill up cracks and crevices in walls and concrete slabs to block their exits and entrances. Seal with sump pumps using screen and caulk and install window screens in the basement floor drains to prevent the centipedes from re-entering.
Like most pests, centipedes thrive on mold which may be aplenty in your basement and around drains (Source). Clean those out to keep them out.
4. How to Get Rid Of Centipedes in Your Yard
Water the lawn smartly
Since centipedes love wet areas which include well maintained lawns. To stop them from spreading, water your lawn early in the morning so that it is dry by afternoon.
Don’t over mulch
Soggy mulch is heaven for a centipede so make sure you don’t go too heavy on the mulch on those flowerbeds (Source).
Products for Getting Rid of Centipedes
There are plenty of centipede killers in the market if you want to take the pesticide route.
Top Products for Centipede Control
Use this centipede deterrent and killer as a spot, crack and crevice treatment. It is specifically made to block entry points and make them poisonous for these pesky invertebrates. Use it by mixing 1.5 to 3 oz per gallon of water.
This micro encapsulated lambda-cyhalothrin formulation is easy to prepare and measure. The product adheres well to surfaces and has long residual protection. It can be safely used indoors and even in food areas such as the kitchen and pantry.
How to Get Rid Of Centipedes Naturally
Capture them on sight
Even though their freaky long bodies and dozens of pairs of legs make them super fast, centipedes usually don’t invade in large numbers. So if you see one, chances are it is one of a few only so make sure you capture each you find and eliminate them (Source).
Use natural pesticides
If you want to poison the centipedes and not your home, the earth around it and yourself, use natural pesticides such as boric acid. Such products contain plant based ingredients that are not harmful to humans but devastating for certain pests. Some can even be used as bug sprays for centipedes.
Essential Oils for Getting Rid Of Centipedes
Use spearmint and peppermint
Essential oils are natural centipede repellants since they are powerful enough to keep those pests at bay. Use an essential oil diffuser or just add a couple of drops of either oil on a napkin and stuff it in cracks and holes to repel them (Source).
Centipedes (100 Leggers) vs. Millipedes (1,000 Leggers)
1 to 1 and a half inches
0.5 to 11 inches
Do not bite or pose any threat to humans
Can bite and inject a mild venom that can cause itching or a severe allergic reaction
2 pairs of legs per body segment
1 pair of legs per body segment
Signs/symptoms - How to identify bites
You may feel a sharp sting like sensation if a centipede bites you but the good news is that most are uncomplicated and self limiting. Most don’t cause more than temporary and localized pain. The bites can be identified by two puncture marks where they inject their venom in the skin. However, if you are allergic to insect bites you may experience nausea, get a fever, see swelling at the sight of the bite and experience heart palpitations (Source).
How to Treat Bites
Apply heat to the bite
This should be done as quickly as possible by immersing it in hot water. Use ice packs to reduce the swelling if any. Since the bite is basically a wound, use a topical antibiotic to prevent infection and keep the sight clean and covered.
Use a local anesthetic
A mild anesthetic applied at the bite can relieve some of the pain. However, this should be done by a medical professional.
Home Remedies for Centipede Bites
Wash the wound
Wash the sight of the bite with soap and water to reduce the possibility of an infection and follow the abovementioned treatment after it.
If you feel intense itching after being bitten, use any antihistamine to soothe it (Source). The wound should also be cleansed to prevent infection.
How to Prevent Centipede Bites
Stay away from damp spaces
As mentioned before, centipedes prefer to live in damp areas that can keep them moist such as basements. The best way to prevent them from biting you is to stay away from those areas till the infestation is taken care of.
What does a house centipede eat?
Any and all insects that are found in a home such as bed bugs, spiders, cockroaches, termites, ants and silverfish.
Do centipedes come up through the drain?
Most centipedes found in drains end up there through your sink drain because they love moist conditions.
Do centipedes lay eggs?
Yes. Most centipedes lay eggs in spring and summer.
What attracts centipedes?
Moist and dark areas.
A centipede infestation can make you tear your hair out in frustration, but now you know how to manage it and get rid of them. Do you have any neat tips for eliminating centipedes? Share your answer by commenting below.