How to Get Rid of Centipedes in Your Home
As the summer progresses, you may have noticed that some many-legged newcomers have taken up residence in your home. These visitors may include centipedes, which are long, predatory arthropods that eat soft-bodied insects, spiders, worms and other arthropods, and will even devour other centipedes.
These long-bodied crawlers don’t damage plants or household items, and their insect-hunting lifestyle can actually make them beneficial houseguests in small numbers.
But if you have young children, a household member who’s allergic to centipede stings, or an excessive number of centipedes in the house, they can start to look a lot less benign.
How to identify centipedes:
Centipedes have long bodies, approximately thirty legs that splay outward from their body, lengthy antennae, and one pair of legs per body segment.
These creatures are often mistaken for millipedes, and vice versa, but there are many noticeable differences between them.
Centipedes move much faster than millipedes, and look flatter. They have legs branching out from the back tip of their body, whereas millipedes don’t, and their legs tend to extend further out to the side, while millipedes’ legs are generally tucked closer under their bodies.
Symphylans are sometimes mistaken for centipedes, but they’re generally much paler, they feed on and damage plants instead of bugs, and they’re smaller.
What kind of damage do centipede bites or stings do?
Centipedes don’t actually bite; they stab beings they perceive as threats with special venomous, pincer-like legs called forcipules.
While centipede stings are rarely fatal, they can cause severe pain, swelling and redness at the site of the bite. Most centipede stings are not life-threatening, but they do present a higher risk to children and people who develop allergic reactions.
Symptoms can include:
- Severe pain, often in proportion to the centipede’s size
- Skin necrosis
- Painful and swollen lymph nodes in regions of the affected limb
- Redness and swelling, sometimes in a bullseye pattern
- Palpitations, or a racing heartbeat
- Itching and burning in the area of the bite
If someone is bitten, they should immediately wash the area with soap and water to minimize the risk of infection. Applying ice, a cool wet dressing, or a local anesthetic will help to relieve pain.
How to get rid of centipedes in your home:
As with many predators, centipedes follow the food. Getting rid of other insects in your home will encourage these tiny hunters to move on.
Centipedes are dependent on moisture in their environment to survive; without it, they dry out and die. Drying out your home with dehumidifiers and dealing with spots that collect moisture will force them to either leave or perish.
Sealing cracks in your walls and foundations, as well as eliminating gaps in and around doors, screens and windows, will help to discourage unwanted guests from slipping into your home.
You can also repel intruders by coating the bottom few feet of the sides of your house, as well as a five-foot band of soil around it, with an outdoor residual insecticide spray, though caution should be used if you have children or pets.
Since centipedes tend to go after moving prey, they aren’t very susceptible to motionless baits, so if you want them to be killed by an insecticide, it will have to be placed where they’ll walk over it by accident.
Centipedes don’t tend to invade houses en masse, and homeowners can often deal with them unaided. But sometimes there are just too many centipedes to remove efficiently on your own, or you’re too busy to deal with them, or you just don’t want to risk letting yourself or your family get stung.
The good news is, if that happens, you aren’t alone.
Need help getting rid of your centipede problem?
If your centipede invasion has gotten to be more than you can deal with on your own, and you want to get rid of it before you or your family get stung, visit this page and contact our pest control experts today!