How to Get Rid of Centipedes

If you have an active centipede infestation, follow these guidelines to learn how to get rid of house centipedes.

Where Centipedes are Found

Centipedes usually live outside, but the House Centipede you can find inside as well. Centipedes typically live outdoors in damp areas such as under leaves, stones, boards, tree bark, or mulch around outdoor plantings. If they are around the foundation of the house, they may wander inside. Most centipedes are active at night.

Identify House Centipedes

  • Centipedes (100 legs) are usually brownish and elongated. Centipedes are flattened, with many different body segments.
  • Centipedes have one pair of legs attached to most of these body segments; they can have 177 pairs of legs.
  • Centipedes differ from millipedes; millipedes have two pairs of legs on most segments and bodies which are not flattened.
  • Centipedes are between 1-6 inches, and the House Centipede is 1-1/12 inches.

How to Kill Centipedes

Prevention is the first Step

Centipedes can be prevented from gaining entry into buildings by sealing and caulking gaps around siding, windows, doors, pipes, wires, and other structural voids. An easy to spray foam spray like Pur Black NF Foam has a closed-cell foam that seals openings and voids from insects and rodents from entering buildings.

Removal of centipedes habitats, including trash, rocks, boards, compost piles, and other hiding places around the structure, would reduce the population. The House Centipede will prefer to live in damp areas like basements, bathrooms, behind baseboards, or attics. House centipedes can be controlled indoors by eliminating their harborage areas. Where possible and using a vacuum to remove exposed centipedes.

Key Takeaway

Centipedes can be found inside homes and out so treating the inside and outside perimeter is recommended.

Insecticide Sprays

Apply a residual concentrate with a hand pump sprayer.
  • Avesta CS and Cyper WSP may be applied inside or outside and are residual insecticides. These products are sprayed along cracks and crevices, entry points, and baseboards and discourage centipedes activity. 
  • Apply these residual insecticides in a 3- to 10-foot band around the structure's perimeter. Also, spray into harborage sites and around potential entry points. Both products will give you long term residual-about three months and a good spray for all surfaces.
  • Liquid applications can be introduced into cracks and crevices along baseboards and into other potential hiding places.

Insecticide Aerosols

  • In addition to the recommended residual insecticides, you may also use an aerosol like PT 221L Aerosol or Cy-Kick Crack and Crevice Aerosol.
  • Spray around doors and windows and other places where these pests may enter premises. This aerosol has a crack and crevice tip to apply in the very small cracks and crevices, where the liquid spray can not go.

Sealing Foam

  • Pur Black NF is Pur Black Gun Foam in a convenient can with a nozzle. Pur Black NF is a straw dispensed foam that expands, bonds, and seals to stop the passage of air, gases, water, dust, fibers, sound, rodents, pests, radon, and odors.
Apply a residual concentrate with a hand pump sprayer.

  • Avesta CS and Cyper WSP may be applied inside or outside and are residual insecticides. These products are sprayed along cracks and crevices, entry points, and baseboards and discourage centipedes activity.
  • Apply these residual insecticides in a 3- to 10-foot band around the structure's perimeter. Also, spray into harborage sites and around potential entry points. Both products will give you long term residual-about three months and a good spray for all surfaces.
  • Liquid applications can be introduced into cracks and crevices along baseboards and into other potential hiding places.
  • In addition to the recommended residual insecticides, you may also use an aerosol like PT 221L Aerosol or Cy-Kick Crack and Crevice Aerosol
  • Spray around doors and windows and other places where these pests may enter premises. This aerosol has a crack and crevice tip to apply in the very small cracks and crevices, where the liquid spray can not go.
  • As an extra measure, use residual dust such as D-Fense Dust. Dust attic areas and under baseboards. A recommended dust for attic areas would be D Fense Dust with a hand duster or garden dusters.
  • Pur Black NF is Pur Black Gun Foam in a convenient can with a nozzle. Pur Black NF is a straw dispensed foam that expands, bonds, and seals to stop the passage of air, gases, water, dust, fibers, sound, rodents, pests, radon, and odors.

House Centipedes

The house centipede is a common pest in many parts of the United States. Unlike most other centipedes, the House Centipede lives its entire life inside a building.

The house centipede is grey-yellow with three stripes down the back and has very long legs banded with white. The largest centipedes are found in the Southwest. This centipede's body is usually only 1 to 1 1/2 inches long at the most, but it's 15 pairs of legs make it seem much larger. The body is grayish-yellow with three dark stripes extending along the full length of the back.

The House Centipede will prefer to live in damp areas such as cellars, closets, bathrooms. They can also be found in attics (during the warmer months) and unexcavated areas under the house. Eggs are laid in these same damp places and behind baseboards or beneath bark on firewood.

Centipede Damage and Bites

Larger centipedes can bite if they are injured, with slight swelling. A physician should be consulted if the bite has penetrated the skin. The centipede is beneficial, eating other insects. Centipedes do not damage food supplies or household furnishings.

Centipede Biology

Centipedes typically overwinter outdoors; in the summer, centipedes lay 35 eggs or more in or on the soil. Newly hatched centipedes have four pairs of legs; during subsequent molts. The centipede progressively increases the number of legs until becoming an adult. Adults of many species live a year and some as long as five to six years.

More Centipede Control Products

Written by our resident pest control expert Ken Martin.