Centipedes: Here's why you should never kill a house centipede

Lisa Walden
·3-min read
Photo credit: Koukichi Takahashi / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Koukichi Takahashi / EyeEm - Getty Images

Centipedes, often known as house centipedes, are fast-moving insects that have long bodies and many jointed legs.

Not to be confused with millipedes, these wriggly creatures are famous for killing pests including moths, flies and other insects around the home. While many of us want to banish their presence from our home, they may actually come in pretty useful.

From appearance to where you might find them, here's everything you need to know about centipedes...

Are centipedes poisonous to humans?

Centipede bites can be very painful, especially when the centipedes are large in size. While their bites are typically not dangerous or fatal, they can hurt as centipedes will use their venom as a defence mechanism.

If you think you may have been bitten by a centipede, you will notice a red or swollen blotch of skin around the bite mark. In most cases, any symptoms will disappear within 48 hours (rub with some cold water if it is irritating you). In severe cases, the bite could cause a greater infection. If this does occur, always head to your local GP for further advice.

Photo credit: sandra standbridge - Getty Images
Photo credit: sandra standbridge - Getty Images

Should I kill house centipedes?

Known for killing other pests, house centipedes will enter your home because they are on the hunt for other home-invading bugs to feast on. Generally, they will mind their own business and will help to banish roaches, moths, flies, silverfish, and termites around your home.

Inside of killing centipedes, a good way to keep them out of your home is by removing any pests they are looking to feed on; seal cracks in the windows, empty kitchen bins regularly, and place moth balls in your wardrobes.

You may find centipedes in cement block walls, boxes, in floor drains or scurrying in clutter, so ensure you keep your home tidy. It's also worth knowing that they love a warm home (this attracts them to reproduce) so keeping the heat down could keep them at bay.

Why do I have centipedes in my house?

House centipedes love damp and dark areas, so homes with moisture could be a reason they invade. Many people find them in their wardrobes, bathrooms, cellars, or bathtubs and sinks. Remember, they are attracted to other pests and will do everything they can to find them.

Centipedes may also be drawn to the warmth of your bed, especially if you have a bed bug infestation. To avoid this, clean your mattress and bedding properly.

What are the characteristics of a centipede?

Generally, the body of a centipede is usually yellow to dark brown in colour, sometimes with dark stripes or markings. You will of course notice their many legs, but may also spot a pair of long and sensitive antennae covered with dense hairs on their heads. Fairly small in size, they are fast-moving insects.

Photo credit: Paul Starosta - Getty Images
Photo credit: Paul Starosta - Getty Images

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