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Insects and other arthropods

What to do about centipedes in the house?

The centipede likes moisture and avoids light. It hunts at night and remains sheltered in a humid spot during the day. It is usually seen scurrying away when we turn on a light.
Photo: Insectarium de Montréal (Laurent Desaulniers)

In Quebec, centipedes live in homes, especially warm, humid areas like the basement and the bathroom. They live in the walls, plumbing, cracks, ventilation ducts, and damp cellars. They are often spotted in the bathtub or sink or near drains. In warmer areas, centipedes can live in nature.

What you need to know

When it is threatened, the centipede tries to repel its enemy by emitting a foul-smelling odour. If this does not work, it defends itself by biting its attacker with its forcipula. In rare cases, the bite may become swollen and painful, with pain comparable to a bee or wasp sting. Some people may have serious allergic reactions to centipede venom and should consult a doctor immediately if bitten.

Scutigera coleoptrata does not transmit diseases to humans or animals and causes no material damage.

Methods of control

This arthropod rarely lives indoors in large numbers. Some people are very frightened of these small, long-legged creatures. If you are one of them, try to capture the centipede using a container with a large opening to remove it from the house.

Reduce excess humidity in the room with a fan, air conditioner or dehumidifier.

The centipede is considered to be a useful predator that helps to eliminate insects. It is to your advantage to tolerate its presence and let it hunt in peace instead of killing it.

A continuous centipede presence in your home means they are finding plenty of insects or other arthropods to eat. You should then determine which species are present and try to eliminate them.

Centipedes frequently hide in cracks. If needed, use silica gel or diatomaceous earth in areas where you know they live. Follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully when applying.

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