How to Get Rid of Thousand-Leggers Without Getting Grossed Out

Imagine waking up and seeing the morning light covering the walls of your bedroom – except for a dark shadow in one spot – that begins to MOVE!   House centipedes travel at night and are frequently visible on walls, floors and ceilings.  And while they have many beneficial qualities, these so called “thousand-leggers” are one pretty fast and freaky bug to have to live with!

What is this bug with lots of legs?

The scientific name for a house centipede is Scutigera coleoptrata. They are commonly called “hundred-leggers” or “thousand-leggers”. I guess we do tend to exaggerate our description when we see one of them. In reality, the common house centipede has 15 sets of legs. They are of various lengths and the back legs are just as long as the front antenna or longer, with one pair of legs per body segment. They are nocturnal, preferring to do their dirty work at night. Because of their preference for the dark, these bugs with lots of legs can be living in your house for some time, until you spot one some early morning that looks like it crawled right out of last night’s nightmare.

They are also a pretty prolific insect…a female house centipede will lay eggs, sometimes 35 at a time! They also stick around for quite a while as their expected life cycle is 1 year.

house centipedeHead-on photo of a house centipede, courtesy of
Is the House Centipede harmful?

The Centipede that appears in houses (also called a home centipede) is not considered harmful to humans, pets, or the environment. They don’t spread disease or have noxious odors. In fact, they do have some beneficial qualities aa they’ll eat other harmful pests that may appear in the home. According the bug biologists at Penn State’s Extension Service, they will eat bed bugs, “silverfish, firebrats, carpet beetle larvae, cockroaches, spiders, and other small arthropods. If house centipedes are seen frequently, this indicates that some prey arthropod is in abundance, and may signify a greater problem than the presence of the centipedes.” The thousand-legger does have venom which it uses to stun its prey, but bites to humans are rare. If it does bite a human, it is not harmful and will cause a small amount of localized pain and a little swelling at the site.

What attracts Centipedes to my house?

Besides darkness, the House Centipede likes moisture and dampness. In the house, they are commonly found in bathrooms, attics, basements or crawlspaces, or under the kitchen sink. Keeping a basement, crawlspace or attic dry and ventilated helps to keep the pest from setting up a home.

Outside, they like trash, damp leaves, mulch, stones, grass clippings or wood piles. Take care to remove these from the foundation of your home. If keeping a woodpile be sure it is elevated from the ground, and away from the foundation. Cracks, crevices or holes around windows, siding or the foundation are the “number 1” way in which the Centipede will enter your home.

Once house centipede’s have taken up residence in your home, they’ll will usually live their full life in your humble abode, instead of moving out with warmer weather.

house centipedePhoto of a house centipede on a green leaf, courtesy of
How do I keep Thousand-Leggers away?

OK, so now that we have you totally grossed out, here’s how to stop these creepy crawling invaders from taking up residence.

Look around for cracks, crevices or holes you were not aware of in your foundation or the main part of the house. Sealing up these voids is the first thing that needs to be done to keep House Centipedes away. You can use an all-weather caulk for the job.

Also, use an indoor caulk on cracks around baseboards or quarter rounds should be used. The stealthy House Centipede will hide in those areas under the wood trim. One type of sealant that is particularly easy to use, and very effective for outside is a spray foam insecticide that comes with a straw-like applicator to help get in small spaces.  It will seal up the holes, and not allow the pests to enter.

If you don’t think you have an infestation, all that may need to be done is to vacuum them up when seen. However, dispose of the dirt in the vacuum so they don’t have a chance to re-infest your home. If you have more of a presence of these pests an insecticide spray, using a handheld pump can be used to eradicate them. It can be used outdoors as well as indoors. A perimeter spray around your house, and spraying baseboards or other suspected hiding places is prudent.

One other product that is most commonly used for kill House Centipedes in attics is an insecticidal dust.  Just be sure to follow the directions of the manufacturer as to application, usage, and safety for humans and pets.

If you have tried, but still are seeing “thousand-leggers” you may need to call a professional for the job. You will most likely pay more, but most pest control companies guarantee their work, they also able to use products not available to the general public which are designed to be very targeted to the isict they are treating, and highly effective.

Get the peace of mind and eliminate this pest in the home.  No one wants anything running around in their home except for kids and pets.

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