Centipedes are right up there with other creepy crawly critters that many people despise. But the truth is that these multi-legged arthropods are quite beneficial. They feed on an abundance of pesky and soft bodied insects like roaches, spiders, caterpillars and even other centipedes. As such, they can help reduce plant damage in your garden and even prevent pest invasions in your homes.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you want to stumble across a centipede in your home or garden, especially considering these animals can inflict a painful bite.
In today’s article, we are going to discuss the best methods of centipede control and how to get rid of centipedes safely and effectively.
Let’s get started.
What Are Centipedes?
Centipedes are arthropodes who feed on a multitude of pests like roaches.
Although centipedes do resemble insects, they are actually arthropods related to other animals like millipedes. They are defined by their segmented body, which is divided into between 15 to 117 segments depending on the species.
Unlike millipedes, who have two pairs of legs on each segment of their body, centipedes only have one pair of legs on either side. However, they can still have over one hundred legs, with some species of centipede having upwards of 177 legs.
Centipedes also have two pairs of antennae and two strong forcipules at the top of their head. These forcipules are designed to pinch and pierce their prey, injecting a venom created to paralyze insects so centipedes can feed on them at their leisure.
There are roughly 8,000 species of centipedes found throughout the world, but there only four common centipede species in the United States.
These four centipede species include:
- The House Centipede
- The Cryptopid Centipede
- The Bark Centipede
- And The Scolopendrid Centipede
The below video talks more about the different types of centipedes you may encounter.
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With that noted, let’s now talk about how to get rid of centipedes both inside and outside of your home.
How To Get Rid Of Centipedes In The Yard and Garden
Centipedes can be beneficial for gardens as they control pests that can harm plants, but that doesn’t mean you want many of them roaming around.
One or two centipedes in your garden is a good thing. But if you have numerous centipedes in your garden then you likely have a plethora of insects and other pests as well. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to use products that not only repel centipedes, but also the insects they prey on.
Some of our favorite products for how to get rid of centipedes in the yard and garden are made of natural, plant-safe and eco-safe ingredients that are fine to use on plants and in yards.
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Also known as DE, Diatomaceous Earth is an all natural substance derived from fossilized algae. It has many uses, but one of its most prominent is for pest control because it works to penetrate the exoskeleton of pests, which dehydrates them.
This makes Diatomaceous Earth an excellent alternative to using insecticides for how to get rid of centipedes. Best of all, when used in the garden, Diatomaceous Earth will also repel and kill other pests that attract centipedes without harming beneficial insects.
DE is also harmless to the environment and perfectly safe to use in areas where people and pets frequent. However, it will need to be reapplied if it gets wet.
EcoSmart Garden Insect Killer
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Another natural alternative to insecticides when it comes to how to get rid of centipedes is this natural Garden Insect Killer by EcoSmart. This spray uses essential oils like rosemary oil, clove oil and peppermint oil to repel and kill not only centipedes but also other pests like caterpillars, aphids and other garden insects that centipedes are attracted to.
The spray is perfectly safe to use around people and pets and is even safe enough to spray directly on edible garden vegetables. It will not harm fruit from fruit trees or ornamental plants either.
Ortho Home Defense MAX Insect Killer
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Lastly we have a product by Ortho. These insect granules work for how to get rid of centipedes, spiders, ants and other pests that could get into your home by creating a protective barrier around your home’s perimeter outside.
The granules can control and prevent pests for as long as three months when applied correctly and can protect an average of 2000 square feet at a time. To use these granules correctly, you should apply them along your perimeter outside of your home and then get them wet. Allow them to dry before allowing children or animals to play in the yard.
And speaking of children and pets, keep in mind that this centipede killer does contain chemical ingredients that can be harmful to people or pets and should only be used as directed.
How To Get Rid Of Centipedes In The House
Centipedes can inflict a painful bite and their presence can indicate a larger pest issue in your home.
If you do have centipedes in your house, you may want to look around for potential water leaks and other pests.
Centipedes are highly attracted to excess water sources and food sources like soft-bodied insects and even other centipedes. Along with ensuring you keep up on routine home maintenance, you can also invest in insect sprays, repellents and traps for how to get rid of centipedes inside your home as well as the insects they prey on.
Natural Oust Peppermint Oil Centipede Repellent
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If you’re looking for a natural method you can use for how to get rid of centipedes, you’ll want to check out Natural Oust Peppermint Oil spray. This spray uses essential oils and natural ingredients that are safe to use around people and pets to repel and kill centipedes.
This product also works against other insects that centipedes are attracted to like spiders and cockroaches and will even repel rodents like rats and mice. This natural peppermint oil spray is also safe to use around people and pets and can be used inside and out.
Once applied, the spray works to continuously repel pests for up to 60 days.
Ortho Indoor Home Defense Max
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This is another product and centipede repellent by Ortho, but this product is designed for indoor use. It is not only created for how to get rid of centipedes but also spiders, crickets, roaches, ants and other home-invading pests centipedes prey on and are attracted to.
The spray includes a wand for easier application and can provide over a year of protection when applied correctly.
We should note that the product uses an insecticide that contains chemicals to repel and kill pests and which can be harmful to people and pets. With that noted, this product should be used only as directed and kept out of reach of children.
CatchMaster Insect Sticky Traps
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Because centipedes are generally solitary and will not usually invade homes in large numbers, sticky traps are often an effective tool you can use to get rid of them. The above traps by CatchMaster are common glue traps designed for larger pests like centipedes and spiders.
Each order includes four glue traps and comes in a foldable design created to protect curious children and pets from getting caught in the glue. The glue is non-toxic and safe to use in homes and around children and pets, and the folded design also helps lure pests inside who prefer dark spaces.
This trap can also work to catch other pests that centipedes might be attracted to like roaches, ants, spiders and bed bugs.
Home Remedies For Centipede Control
Essential oils can help repel centipedes and many other pests.
Like many pests, centipedes are repulsed by strong smelling essential oils including peppermint oil, tea tree oil, cedar oil, eucalyptus oil and lavender oil. The best essential oils to use for how to get rid of centipedes will also work to repel spiders, mice, rats, bats and many other insects and animals.
As you may have also noticed above in our products list, you can buy a premade essential oil pest repellent spray. Of course, you can also make your own right there at home.
How To Get Rid Of Centipedes Using A DIY Essential Oil Spray
Essential oils aren’t only for your diffuser. If you have some essential oils on hand, go ahead and combine two cups of water with 25 drops of the essential oil of your choice in a spray bottle.
Pro tip – Peppermint is our essential oil of choice because it repels not only centipedes but also spiders, rodents and ants.
Then simply spray the essential oil combination around your home including along the perimeter and near window ledges, sidings and along other entry and exit points. Pay special attention to storage areas like below sinks, pantries, cabinets, basements and attics.
You can also use essential oils soaked in cotton balls to repel pests like centipedes. Soak the cotton balls in the essential oil you choose and place these soaked cotton balls around your home in areas you have noticed centipedes and other pests.
Replace the cotton balls every three days with freshly soaked cotton balls to keep pests at bay.
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Organic and pure peppermint oil is not only the safest to use around your home, but it is also often the most effective when it comes to pest control and how to get rid of centipedes.
The above peppermint oil by UpNature is natural and is available for many different uses, including to repel pests. It also comes with a dropper, which makes adding it to your spray bottle and mixing it with water is much easier.
Tea Tree Oil
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Another oil that can be effective against pests like centipedes, rodents, ants and spiders is natural Tea Tree oil. The above essential oil is made by Nature’s Nutrition. It’s a natural and safe oil that emits a lovely odor people love but pests hate.
You can use Tea Tree oil combined with other essential oils to make your own spray for how to get rid of centipedes or you can use Tea Tree oil on its own with cotton balls or in water.
How To Make Your Own Sticky Trap
We already know that sticky traps are an effective tool you can use for how to get rid of centipedes, but did you know you can also make your own centipede sticky trap at home? It’s as simple as following the below directions.
- 1 Quart of Corn Syrup
- 1 Quart of water
- 1 Piece of Construction Paper
- 1 Paintbrush
- 1 Pot or Saucepan
Cut the construction paper into four equal pieces and set these pieces aside. Then combine your corn syrup and water in your saucepan and bring the concoction to a boil and stir. Set aside and let cool, then use a paintbrush to paint one side of your construction paper.
Place the freshly-painted construction paper pieces in areas of your home where you have noticed centipede activity and check the traps often.
Are Centipedes Dangerous To People and Pets?
Though centipedes do bite and are venomous, they are not considered dangerous to people or pets.
Although centipedes are not the most attractive animals in the world, they are some of the more beneficial arthropods. That said, they are also known to bite. But does that mean centipedes are dangerous to people and pets?
Centipedes are predatory arthropods, which means they hunt and eat other pests like spiders, ants, roaches and crickets. To help them catch and eat their prey, centipedes contain two strong forcipules at the front of their bodies that bite and then inject a paralyzing venom.
And while centipedes can and do bite humans, they often only do so if they are provoked, stepped on or handled roughly. Otherwise, most centipedes tend to keep to themselves.
Furthermore, even if a centipede does bite you, their bites are generally harmless. So, what’s it like to be bitten by a centipede?
Most people experience an unpleasant stinging sensation followed by mild swelling, itching, redness or irritation that often goes away on its own in a matter of hours or days.
Of course, there have been instances where sensitive people have experienced an allergic reaction to a centipede bite, although this is rare.
For the most part, centipedes are not dangerous to people or animals. Their bite can be painful, of course, and the larger the centipede is the more painful the bite can be.
This reason alone may be enough for you to want to figure out how to get rid of centipedes, but in order to remove centipedes from your home, it helps to understand why you have them in the first place.
Why Do I Have Centipedes?
The house centipede is a beneficial centipede that can help keep your home free of pests like roaches.
Centipedes are found throughout the United States, but they are most common in humid regions or areas that are warm, dark and damp.
Outside, centipedes are often found in old, rotting logs, beneath mulch, under stones, flower pots, in gardens, and along pavement cracks and crevices. They are also often attracted to warmth, which is why some species of centipedes can find their way inside your home.
In the home, centipedes are often found in cluttered areas like attics, basements and crawl spaces, as well as beneath sinks, in kitchen drains, bathtubs and along your foundation.
Centipedes are also attracted to food sources, and their food sources include soft bodied insects. An abundance of centipedes in or around your home could mean that you have another pest issue, so it’s important to keep your eyes open.
That said, like all animals, centipedes do have their role in a healthy ecosystem. It helps to understand the pros and cons of having centipedes around before you work on how to get rid of centipedes for good.
The Pros of Centipedes
- Centipedes are solitary
Unlike many insects that live and procreate in large colonies, centipedes, as arthropods, are generally solitary and live alone. This means that they will not invade your home in large numbers and are generally easier to control.
- They live in dark, damp and isolated areas inside and out
Because of the habitats they are attracted to, you’re not very likely to run into centipedes often during your daily endeavours.
- Centipedes are a natural form of pest control
Most species of centipede are beneficial because they control pesky insects like caterpillars, roaches and crickets. They also eat spiders and other pests. House centipedes in particular, like the one pictured above, are an excellent form of in-home pest control and are harmless to people and pets.
- Centipedes can help your garden flourish
Just as centipedes can protect your home, they can also help your garden flourish. Unlike millipedes, which can cause damage to plants and flowers, centipedes leave plants and flowers alone and prefer to eat the insects that may harm them.
The Cons of Centipedes
Centipedes can bite and their bite can be painful. Even though they are not known to be aggressive, they are attracted to clutter and dark spaces in your home or garden, which could lead to you getting an accidental bite.
- A centipede in your home could be a sign of other pests
Because centipedes are predatory and feed on other insects, finding them in your home likely means you have the insects they prey on in your home as well.
- A centipede sighting in your home could also mean you have water damage
Centipedes are attracted to damp areas or areas rich in moisture. If you find a few centipedes inside your home, you may also have water damage that needs to be taken care of.
How To Repel and Control Centipedes in The Future
Keeping centipedes in the garden means protecting and sealing your home.
Once you’ve figured out how to get rid of centipedes around your home and garden, you’ll want to keep up with methods of prevention.
We have listed a few tips and tricks from experts on how to keep centipedes at bay below. Take a look.
Repair Water Damage and Remove Excess Water Sources
A centipede sighting may mean you have a water leak, especially if you find multiple centipedes inside your home or congregating in a certain area. Other pests like roaches are also attracted to dark, damp areas, so repairing water leaks will not only prevent centipedes but also these other pests as well.
Keep Bushes and Shrubs Away From The Lining of Your Home
Like most pests, centipedes find their way into your home via access from close growing shrubs and vegetation. To prevent and reduce centipedes and other pests from getting into your home, it’s recommended that you keep vegetation at least three feet from your home’s siding.
Use Cedar or Straw Instead of Mulch
Many gardeners use mulch in their gardens and along the perimeter of their home for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, regular wood mulch can increase pest issues by attracting millipedes, centipedes, earwigs and other insects and arthropods that are attracted to wood and moisture.
Luckily, using straw or cedar in place of mulch can help deter these pests.
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Regular wood mulch can actually attract centipede and other pests as we mentioned above, but cedar and straw will help deter them. Cedar mulch is easy to find and relatively affordable. It’s also beautiful and serves the same purpose as mulch in gardens and landscaping.
Cedarcide mulch not only repels centipedes and other pests but it also helps protect your plants and the perimeter of your home from home-invading insects and arthropods. Cedarcide mulch also smells delightful and looks beautiful.
Use A Year-Round Pest Control
Remember, centipedes can often be a sign of another, larger problem in your home like a water leak or insect infestation. This means that getting rid of centipedes could also mean you need to get rid of other pests first.
You can use a year-round pest repellent like a natural spray or chemical repellent, or you can use ultrasonic methods like an ultrasonic sound repeller.
Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
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Ultrasonic pest repellers are an effective form of pest prevention and not only work for how to get rid of centipedes but also for how to get rid of other pests like mice, rats, squirrels, bats, spiders, crickets, bed bugs and more.
Best of all, ultrasonic sound repellents are safe to use around people and pets. They work by emitting ultrasonic vibrations and sounds that irritate pests and compel them to leave. These sounds are harmless to people and pets and often go unnoticed.
The above ultrasonic pest repellers come in an order of six and can be plugged individually into rooms, basements and kitchens for the most effective use.
Other tips you can use to prevent centipedes are listed below:
- Keep Up With Routine Home Maintenance
- Keep Food Stored Properly
- Keep Your Home Tidy Inside and Out
- Call a Professional Pest Control Expert for Help if Needed
Remember, centipedes may be creepy to look at, but they are usually harmless to people and pets and are generally good for the environment.
However, seeing a centipede inside your home could be a sign of a larger pest problem, so don’t hesitate to contact a professional pest control expert for assistance if you find you can’t get rid of centipedes inside your home.
So, what do you think about how to get rid of centipedes? Would you prefer to leave them alone in your home and around your garden if you find them?
Let us know your opinion about how to get rid of centipedes in the comment section below.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.