Pest Away Tips

10 Fascinating Facts about Common House Centipedes

Introduction to Common House Centipedes

Centipedes are fascinating creatures, often attracting attention from curious eyes. They are elongated, worm-like arthropods that possess numerous legs.

These exceptional creatures have evolved into several different species, each providing exciting features to investigate. In this article, we will delve into the most common species of centipedes found in households – the Scutigera coleoptrata, and we will discuss their appearance, misconceptions, and number of legs.

Appearance and Misconceptions

Many people are scared of house centipedes because of their long and slender bodies and their numerous legs that seem to glide them across surfaces. However, house centipedes are beneficial species that help to keep the house ecosystem clean.

Contrary to popular belief, they are not dangerous to humans. House centipedes are not known to bite except when provoked or trapped.

Their venom is not potent enough to harm humans, and their bites are usually not more than a mild irritation.

The house centipede has a unique appearance that distinguishes it from other centipedes.

When fully grown, they can reach a length of up to 3 inches (7.6 cm). They have segmented bodies with flattened, shield-shaped heads.

The body is often a yellow-brown color, and they have three dark stripes running down their backs, with short antennas protruding from their heads.

Number of Legs and Species

The house centipede belongs to the family Scutigeridae and is scientifically referred to as the Scutigera coleoptrata. They are called house centipedes because they tend to live indoors and are commonly found in basements, bathrooms, and kitchens.

The Scutigera coleoptrata is the most common species of centipedes found in households, but there are over 8000 known species of centipedes in the world. House centipedes can have up to 150 legs, but on average, they possess about 30 legs.

Their numerous legs help them move quickly, and they can run at a maximum speed of up to 1.3 meters per second. The legs are long and slender, with bristles and sharp claws that aid in grasping and climbing surfaces.

The legs are arranged in pairs along the length of their body, with each pair attached to a body segment.

Appearance of Common House Centipedes

Color, Stripes, Eyes, Mouthparts, and Antennae

The house centipede is an intriguing creature, with its unique features setting it apart from other species. Their body color ranges from yellow-brown to grey, with three dark stripes running down their backs.

These stripes are a defining feature of the Scutigera coleoptrata species and distinguish them from other species.

House centipedes have compound eyes located on their flattened heads.

These eyes are made up of multiple lenses for a comprehensive view of the world around them. Their mouths contain a pair of poisonous fangs used for injecting venom into their prey.

Their long antennas are sensory organs that help them to navigate the environment and detect their prey.

Body Segments and Legs

House centipedes have elongated, segmented bodies divided into 15-177 segments depending on their species. Each segment bears a pair of legs that aid in their movement, sense vibrations and detect chemical secrets from their prey.

The body segments, in addition to the legs, help the house centipedes to maneuver through tight corners and narrow spaces found in household environments. The legs are attached to the base of the body segment and are interconnected to the muscle fibers.

The legs are used to propel the centipedes forward or backward, with some species even able to jump small distances.


House centipedes may seem horrifying at first since they have numerous legs and are often associated with dark, damp environments like basements and bathrooms. However, they play a crucial role in controlling the insect population in household environments.

They are not known to harm humans, and their bite is usually mild. Their unique features, including their color, stripes, eyes, mouthparts, and antennae, make them one of the most interesting species to study.

With a better understanding of their appearance, misconceptions, number of legs, body segments, and legs, we hope you appreciate these fascinating creatures residing in our households.

Harmlessness of Common House Centipedes

House centipedes are prevalent in households, often settling in basements, bathrooms, kitchens, and other dark, damp spaces. Despite their scary appearance, house centipedes are not harmful to humans and pets.

They do not sting and usually avoid confrontation rather than attacking. In this section, we’ll explore their biting and stinging capabilities, the effect of their venom on humans and pets, and the benefits that common house centipedes offer.

Biting and Stinging

House centipedes have venomous fangs used to inject their prey with venom to paralyze or kill them. They do not use their venom to attack humans or pets unless provoked or threatened.

The likelihood of house centipedes attacking humans or pets is low since they are nervous creatures that prefer to avoid interaction with humans and pets. In rare cases, people may find themselves bitten by house centipedes.

The bite may be painful and cause slight swelling and redness. However, the symptoms usually subside within a few hours without any required treatment.

House centipede bites are usually harmless, and no fatalities have been reported due to house centipede bites.

Venom and Its Effect on Humans and Pets

House centipedes’ venom is not lethal and usually causes no harm to humans and pets. The venom’s toxicity is low, and humans would require numerous bites to experience any significant symptoms.

Any swelling, itching, or redness that may occur as a result of a house centipede bite is often self-limiting, and the symptoms resolve within a few hours. Pets, including dogs and cats, are also not significantly affected by house centipede bites.

However, they may exhibit some discomfort and itchiness in the affected area. Small pets like hamsters or rabbits may be more significantly affected than larger pets.

With pets, care should be exercised in observing the behavior after a bite and providing veterinary treatment if the symptoms worsen or persist.

Benefits of Common House Centipedes

Although their appearance may scare many people, house centipedes offer numerous benefits to the ecosystem. Their primary benefit is their role in controlling the insect population in households.

House centipedes feed on other household pests, including spiders, cockroaches, silverfish, and even termites, thus helping to keep the house free of these unwanted insects.

Besides insect control, house centipedes also play a role in ecosystem biodiversity.

They help in nutrient cycling and decomposition of decaying organic matter in the soil, improving soil fertility. Additionally, they serve as a food source for other animals, including lizards and birds, thus contributing to a healthy food chain.

Behavior and Habitats of Common House Centipedes

Habitat Preferences, Attractions, and Prevention

House centipedes prefer dark and moist environments, making basements, bathrooms, and kitchens their favorite hiding places. They are attracted to damp environments and may be attracted to leaky pipes or areas of condensation.

To prevent house centipedes from settling, it is important to maintain a dry and well-ventilated living area, repair leaky pipes, and seal any gaps or cracks in the walls, closing off entry points.

House centipedes can find entry points through small cracks or crevices in walls and floors.

To prevent entry, it is important to ensure the house’s perimeter is well sealed, including window and door frames. It may also be necessary to apply insecticide spray around possible entry points to repel centipedes.

Movement, Nocturnal Nature and Incidences in Human Living Spaces

House centipedes are nocturnal creatures, active mainly at night, and often pass unnoticed during the day. When they move, they use their numerous legs to propel them forward or upward, making their movement fast and graceful.

Incidences of house centipedes in households are relatively common, particularly in older homes. Encounters with house centipedes are usually relatively harmless, with the centipedes often scurrying away to safety when they sense the presence of humans or pets.

Many people may not even know they have house centipedes, as they often pass unnoticed unless they come out into the open.


House centipedes are not harmful to humans or pets, and their presence in households can be a positive addition, providing natural insect control. They prefer dark and moist environments, are active during the night, and are often found in basements, bathrooms, and kitchens.

With proper maintenance, repairs, and insecticide use, households can prevent house centipedes from settling in and limit their occurrence.

Dealing with Common House Centipedes

While house centipedes are generally harmless, some people may find their presence unsettling and prefer to avoid them altogether. In this section, we will discuss how to identify an infestation, trapping and relocation methods, DIY and commercial trapping tools, and prevention measures to reduce house centipede encounters.

House Centipede Infestation Signs

House centipedes often go unnoticed and do not pose any significant harm unless their population explodes, leading to an infestation. Infestation signs include spotting multiple house centipedes frequently, even during the day, encountering large numbers of centipedes in the same area, and seeing the centipedes in unexpected places like bedrooms or living rooms.

In severe cases, a musty odor may be present, indicating the presence of an infestation.

Trapping and Relocating

Trapping and relocation is an effective way to deal with a house centipede infestation while minimizing harm to the creatures. The idea is to trap the centipedes and relocate them to an outdoor environment where they can continue to thrive without causing discomfort to humans.

The best way to trap house centipedes is by using a clear plastic cup or glass, placing it over the centipede, then sliding a piece of paper under the cup to trap the centipede inside. Once trapped, it is safer to release the centipede outside, preferably in a wooded area where it can continue to contribute to the ecosystem’s balance.

DIY and Commercial Trapping Methods

For a more efficient approach, a range of DIY and commercial trapping tools are available, including sticky traps, bait traps, and insecticides. Sticky traps are non-toxic and are effective in trapping centipedes and other household insects.

Bait traps lure centipedes to a sticky surface with a specialized scent that they cannot resist. Insecticides are also effective in killing centipedes, but their use should be carefully considered as they are toxic and can harm the environment.

Prevention Measures

Prevention is better than cure, and with the right measures, house centipede infestations can be significantly reduced. Prevention measures include sealing any cracks and crevices in the house walls, around windows, doors, and piping systems, reducing the house’s dampness and dark environments by ensuring proper ventilation, using dehumidifiers, and repairing any leaks in pipes or roofs.

Scientific Facts about Common House Centipedes

Unique Features of Centipede Blood

House centipedes have unique features that distinguish them from other arthropods. One of the most notable features is their hemolymph, also known as hemocyanin.

Unlike mammals, whose blood contains red blood cells and hemoglobin, the blood of arthropods (including house centipedes) is colorless due to hemocyanin. Hemocyanin contains copper instead of iron, which gives it its blue-green color and allows it to transport oxygen throughout the body.

General Facts and Comparison to other Creatures

House centipedes belong to the phylum Arthropoda, the same phylum as crustaceans, spiders, scorpions, and insects. They are characterized by their segmented bodies, jointed legs, and exoskeleton.

House centipedes, like other arthropods, molt, shedding their exoskeleton as they grow. They are fast-moving creatures, capable of moving up to 1.3 meters per second.

Their numerous legs help them navigate through tight spaces, making them agile hunters of other household insects.

Compared to other arthropods, house centipedes have unique features that make them suited to their niche environment.

For example, their numerous legs and long antennae help them to detect and capture prey in dimly lit environments. Overall, they are fascinating creatures, and while they may initially appear intimidating, they play an essential role in the ecosystem and, with proper management, can coexist harmoniously with humans.


In conclusion, house centipedes are fascinating creatures that play an essential role in controlling the insect population in households. Despite their intimidating appearance, they are harmless to humans and pets, and their venom is typically not potent enough to cause significant harm.

House centipedes are fast and agile, able to navigate through tight spaces and climb vertical surfaces effortlessly. They are nocturnal and prefer dark, moist environments, making basements, bathrooms, and kitchens their preferred habitats.

To prevent house centipede infestations, we need to ensure that our homes are dry, well-ventilated, and free of cracks and crevices in walls, windows, and doors. Using insecticide sprays and traps, such as sticky traps or bait traps, can help keep house centipede populations at bay.

Trapping and relocating them to an outdoor environment is also a humane way to deal with house centipede infestations. House centipedes are part of the phylum Arthropoda and share unique characteristics with other arthropods, including their segmented bodies, jointed legs, and exoskeletons.

Their blood, called hemolymph or hemocyanin, is distinct in that it appears colorless due to containing copper instead of iron, which gives it its blue-green color, and can transport oxygen throughout the body. In conclusion, house centipedes are not a threat to humans and pets, and proper prevention measures can help keep infestations at bay.

While some people may find their presence unsettling, they provide invaluable insect control in our household environments. With their unique characteristics and beneficial contributions to the ecosystem, they are a fascinating species to study and appreciate.

In summary, this article has covered various aspects of common house centipedes, including their appearance, behavior, habitats, and scientific facts as well as prevention and management measures. Our discussion has shown that while these creatures may appear scary and intimidating, they pose no significant threat to humans and pets, but rather have positive contributions to our environment.

Prevention measures such as sealing cracks and crevices in homes, maintaining proper ventilation, and using insecticides and traps can be instrumental in keeping house centipedes’ populations at bay. Overall, this article highlights the importance of understanding and appreciating these creatures as part of our ecology.

Popular Posts