One home-invading creature that evokes angst among most people is the house centipede. These leggy little bugs, which aren't even technically bugs, are spooky and fast, and they usually present themselves at inopportune times and places.
The good news is that not all is bad about the house centipede, and you may be a lot less squeamish after learning more about them. Below is more information on the house centipede, including how they benefit mankind, and what you can do to discourage them from inhabiting your home.
Meet the House Centipede
Centipedes are a large family, with around 8,000 species occurring around the globe. All are multi-legged, like their distant cousins, the millipedes, and all species are also venomous.
The house centipede has 30 legs, arranged in pairs on a segmented body; however, unlike most other centipedes, the legs are fairly long and delicate. House centipedes grow to be about an inch or so in length, but their long, spindly legs can make them appear larger. Their bodies are lined in brown and yellow stripes that run from head to tail.
The House Centipede Habitat
House centipedes are named for their curious habit of entering homes and taking up residency, unlike most other centipede species that never appear inside. However, in nature, house centipedes live in the same general environment that other centipedes occupy: damp, litter-covered soil outside of the reach of direct sunlight. When the weather turns cooler, house centipedes seek out warmer confines, and that is how they often end up inside houses.
The House Centipede Diet
House centipedes may be small, but they are fearsome predators. Like all centipedes, house centipedes spend much of their time on the hunt for food, and they are capable of subduing and killing almost any other creature that fits within its grasp. Inside your home, this is a lengthy list that includes flies, spiders, silverfish, termites, cockroaches, ants, and even bedbugs.
Most of the hunting takes place at night, which explains why many of the unwelcome interactions between people and house centipedes are in bathrooms. The centipedes are drawn to humid locations, and bathrooms provide a more welcoming atmosphere for them as such. House centipedes are also frequently found in the damp, dark confines of basements, since that environment also suits their tastes.
Humans and House Centipedes
If you are concerned about house centipedes hurting you, then you can rest assured you are unlikely to suffer any type of injury. Though house centipedes are venomous, their bite is much weaker than that found in some of their bigger, nastier relatives.
In fact, it is difficult to be bitten by a house centipede, since they possess only small fangs and are inclined to run away from humans upon sight. Even if you were to be bitten, the pain would be minimal and short-lived, and no lingering effects would exist as long as you are not allergic to the mild venom.
Considering that you are almost certain to never be harmed by a house centipede and that they eat a large number of real pests that plague your home, the presence of house centipedes is actually beneficial in some respects. However, it is understandable if you don't want them inside your home, and you can take action to encourage them to move back outside. Here are a couple of tips for ridding your home of them:
- Reduce damp areas inside your home. By regularly using a dehumidifier inside your home, including your basement, and exhaust fan inside your bathroom after showers and baths, you will be able to greatly reduce the moisture content in the air. Markedly drier conditions will make your home less-than-hospitable for the centipedes and will force them to retreat.
- Clear away clutter from near your home. Since house centipedes spend their time outdoors in leafy, litter-filled areas, it will benefit you by removing piles of leaves, firewood, limbs and other clutter from near your home. That will provide less opportunity for the centipedes to accidentally find their way inside if their natural habitat isn't next to your walls.
A qualified pest control specialist can be of great service in ridding your home of house centipedes and other pests. They use approved pesticides that will not harm you and your family, your pets or the environment, and they can also provide wise advice on how to keep your home free of bugs.