House Centipedes

Scutigera coleoptera

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

House Centipedes
Color Grayish yellow with 3 dark stripes
Legs 30
Shape Long thin body with very long legs
Size 1" - 1½"
Antennae True


Centipedes develop by gradual metamorphosis, so immature have a similar appearance to adults but are smaller. All life stages can be observed running rapidly across floors or accidentally trapped in bathtubs, sinks, and lavatories. The house centipede forages at night for small insects and their larvae and for spiders.


In homes, the house centipede prefers to live in damp areas, such as cellars, closets, bathrooms, attics (during warmer months), and unexcavated areas under the house. Eggs are laid in these same damp places, as well as behind baseboards or beneath bark on firewood.


Although this centipede can bite, its jaws are quite weak. There usually is not more than a slight swelling if a bite occurs. From an entomological point of view, they could be considered beneficial. Most homeowners, however, usually take a different point of view and insist that they be eliminated.


Using dehumidifiers in basements and other damp areas to keep the moisture content of the air down below 55% relative humidity will aid in controlling this pest. Also eliminating spiders and other small pests through vacuuming will help aid with control.