The House Centipede: Get Rid of Them, or Let Them Be?

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The house centipede is a fairly common household pest. That said, it's also pretty heinous. When you've had one crawl up your leg in the middle of a lecture in a 200-person auditorium, you know that screams often follow their arrival. If you've seen more than your fair share of them at home, here's some good info:

The house centipede has a gazillion legs and two long antennae that stick far out of their bug bodies. Like the silverfish, they like dark, damp places like the basement or under the bathroom sink. They move quickly, like to come out at night, and have no interest in scary humans. Did I mention how prehistoric and ugly they look?

Here's why you should leave them alone though: they kill other bugs. Like other centipedes, the house variety has poisonous venom that takes out roaches, moths, flies, and termites— you name the creepy crawly, and this centipede probably offs it. They even take care of bed bugs!

And that's pretty much all they do (aside from scaring the bejeezus out of you). They don't carry disease, or nibble on your wooden siding. They don't go after human food. Just bugs.

That said, I wouldn't pick one up with my bare hands. You read the part about poisonous venom right? Even if you are bitten, it might sting a bit but you'll be fine. But there's no reason you need to touch them. If one's in plain sight, just sweep it into a container and return it outside or to your basement, and all will be well.

PREVENTION

The best deterrent is to make the conditions less ideal for them and getting rid of any means of entry into the home.

  • Do your best to get rid of any other household pests that they feed upon.
  • Use a dehumidifier.
  • Install a better bathroom fan for showers.
  • Seal any cracks or crevices to keep them from entering the home, or laying eggs while they're in there.
  • Clear the perimeter around your home of leaves and other damp debris.

Do you have house centipedes in your house? Do you get rid of them or leave them alone?

(Image credits: carroteater/Shutterstock)