Can House Centipedes Bite?

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Everything You Need to Know About Household Centipedes

Encountering a pest in your home is never fun, but some are more startling than others. Of all the home pests you might encounter here in South Carolina, few are as creepy as the house centipede.

These bugs can range up to 6” in length, making them a frightful sight in your home. They certainly look intimidating -- but can they bite? And if they can, are centipedes poisonous? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about house centipedes.


Identifying and Understanding House Centipedes

The name “centipede” literally means “one hundred legs,” but this name isn’t entirely accurate. Here in the United States, centipede species can have anywhere from 15 to 177 pairs of legs -- that’s 30 to 354 legs in total. They can range in length from as small as 1/8" up to 6” long, and are typically yellow or brown in color. Some species feature dark markings and/or stripes.

If you’re trying to identify a centipede in your home, it’s worth keeping in mind that the most common house centipede species, Scutigera coleoptrata, tends to range from 1 to 1.5” in length and has just 15 pairs of legs. Their antennae are longer than their body, as are their last pair of legs.

Not sure whether you’ve encountered a house centipede? Take a look at our interactive pest identification guide. If you’re still not certain after using the guide, don’t worry -- we’re here to help! Simply send us a picture and description of the bug, and one of our Home Pest Control experts will get back to you.

Sign up now to receive our free seasonal pest prevention calendar.

Do House Centipedes Bite?

Many believe that centipedes are capable of biting -- but is this actually the case?

Technically speaking, centipedes don’t actually bite. However, they are capable of pinching their victim using a pair of hollow, claw-tipped legs. These pincer-like legs “bite” into the skin and inject venom into their target. In fact, centipedes will sometimes pierce the skin and inject venom simply by crawling across your skin.

Centipedes use these pincer claws to hunt and attack small prey, such as other insects. While the venom is fatal for a small insect, it’s rarely dangerous for humans.

That said, centipede bites can be extremely painful. Individuals bitten by centipedes can experience severe pain, redness, and swelling at the site of the bite. More sensitive individuals may even experience nausea, headache, chest pain, heart palpitations, and vomiting. If you think you’re experiencing a severe allergic reaction, contact a physician immediately for help.


What Attract House Centipedes Into Your Home?

Like many other bugs here in South Carolina, centipedes prefer moist, warm, and dark conditions. Many species are particularly sensitive to cold. As a result, house centipedes are often attracted to the warmth of your home as cooler weather approaches in the fall and winter.


How to Get Rid of Centipedes

The last thing any homeowner wants is to encounter a centipede or suffer from a bite. But how do you get rid of centipedes if you’re already dealing with an infestation?

First and foremost, prevention is important when it comes to centipede control. As mentioned above, centipedes prefer warm, moist, dark conditions. As a result, homes with moisture problems are particularly susceptible to a centipede infestation. Using a dehumidifier and addressing moisture issues in your home can help reduce your chances of encountering centipedes.

If you have other pests in your home that centipedes prey upon as a source of food, it’s important to get rid of these pests as well. Removing the centipedes’ food source can both help eliminate an existing infestation and reduce your risk of future issues.

Finally, remember to seal up any cracks and other points of entry where centipedes might make their way into your home. Check for cracks and gaps around basement and foundation walls, doors, and windows, and ensure that they’re sealed before cool weather sets in.


Contact a Pest Control Professional

Prevention goes a long way towards eliminating house centipedes, but sometimes prevention alone isn’t enough. Trying to get rid of centipedes on your own can be a challenge, and many consumer pest products are ineffective or potentially dangerous if misapplied.

If you’re suffering from a house centipede infestation, contact the professionals at Home Pest Control. Our expert technicians can help you get rid of centipedes quickly, easily, and affordably.

Want to learn more about how to prevent pests all year long? Download our free pest control calendar for homeowners!

Sign up now to receive our free seasonal pest prevention calendar.

August 12, 2019

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