Jan 9, 2007

House Centipede Benefits

Chrissie sent in this photo of a house centipede. She's had to bring in an exterminator to erradicate this abomination. These nasties have fifteen pairs of legs, which makes them fast. So fast in fact, that she even mistook one scampering across her floor for a rat when she first saw it.

According to her exterminator, these are the most beneficial of household pests, since they eat termites, spiders, bedbugs, cockroaches, and silverfish, etc. You just have to watch out for their poisonous stings.

Like Chrissie, I believe that the 'benefits' of this ugly pest do nothing to counterbalance the horror I would feel at having one climb up my leg. I don't think any home seller would place "free house centipedes included" in their real estate ad.

Thanks for the photo, Chrissie

32 comments:

Howard said...

I've had several of them over the years living in the basement bathroom. They are cool, but still scare the crap out of me when I turn the light on at night and it is in the middle of its nightly duties.

...and I ALWAYS turn the light on when entering in there at night.

I've left them alone as I only see one at a time and we always walk around each other -- like a dance.

Frigga said...

Just how big is that thing?! Suddenly I'm SO VERY HAPPY this northern climate of Finland doesn't allow any insect to grow bigger than the size of a thumb. That is bad enough, though.

Kath said...

God can you imagine seeing that thing disappear up your pants leg?? **SHUDDER**

Mike said...

If there are to be rules of ugliness a la cute overload, I think we have a few being perfectly displayed here.

Ratio of leg to body size is off the charts.

Where is the "face"?


These critters are the only thing that give me the heebie jeebies. If I see one in the bathroom I lock my cat in there for a bit and let him take care of it.

Kritter said...

Where do these things live? I want to be sure not to go there.

Anonymous said...

I have those in my 1850's house in Northern Vermont. They come up from the basement and really are pretty nasty. I generally like all bugs, but these are the one thing that I have a very hard time with. Once you crush them their legs keep moving for a long time...

Swintah said...

O. M. G. That thing's hideous. I thought we had it bad in our house: centipedes, lady bugs, spiders, mice, frogs, snakes, crickets. This is sooo much worse.

If there are going to be rules, I suggest not having a leg to body ratio - after all, aren't cute little colts all leg?

But, if there was a menace factor, this thing has it.

Anonymous said...

my entire life i've refered to these as 'nightmare bugs' - it's good to know that i haven't been halucinating!

Anonymous said...

i have seen them in colorado (denver) and this picture looks to be of a fairly small one - they're the most awful thing i've ever seen - and my god they are lightning fast

Raging Wombat said...

I didn't intend to inspire, or reawaken, so many nightmares on this one. Though I am liking the leg-to-body ratio idea for identifying ugly. I'll have to consider that more closely ...

Thankfully for you northern folk, this creature is only found in some of our warmer climes (old and new world).

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) these things are the only bugs that bring out my girly screams. Just looking at the picture makes my skin crawl. Our basement (I live in Ontario) is home to many of these nasties and everytime we open the door and turn on the light it's an adventure.

kf said...

I have seen TONS of these in my lifetime, and I just thought they were some weird offspring of silverfish or crickets. I never even considered a centipede.

Now, they are thirty three pencernt scarier than they used to be.

Jack Ruttan said...

Wait 'til you squash one, and the legs keep twitching!

Kritter said...

Yikes! I live in Denver--never seen one of these but maybe I've just been lucky. We do have our share of black widows and very large spiders. Maybe they eat these centipedes.

Anonymous said...

These centipedes actually kill and eat black widows....along with other household bugs

Anonymous said...

I used to live in Northern CA (just north of SF) and had a garden outside my apartment door. These things were in my place frequently - they move FAST and take forever to kill. Someone said they'd let their cat at it - DO NOT LET YOUR PETS NEAR THESE THINGS!
I am now in New Mexico and last night my cats awakened me to a different kind of centipede at the foot of my bed! =:o !!! I'm trying to find info on how to keep these MF's out of my house!!!

Anonymous said...

We have quite a few sharing our home with us. We ignore them and they do their own thing. They are VERY beneficial and will eat many more destructive bugs. Think of them as nature's exterminators. I seem to be in the minority, but I think they're actually rather elegant looking. Just remember to shake your clothes out before you get dressed!

the Gibbler said...

I've been living with them for the past fifteen years in our house. They're actually not so bad. I prefer them sooo much more than cockroaches, which we don't have, thank god -- most likely 'cause of the house centipedes. You mostly spot them one at a time and they're usually on the walls or a ceiling corner -- nothing really to be bothered about. I do admit, though, that they are damn creepy looking. However, I'm so used to them that when I stayed at a motel one time and spotted one, the first thing that popped into my head was, "Home!"

Anonymous said...

I am a 1st grade teacher and I found one of these cutie pies.... (uhhhhhh ha ha)
in my class. I caught him and we looked at him in a jar! He scared the bejesus outta me! Really cool to look at though! My kids loved it! Glad I didn't know they sting or I might not have been so brave!

gingerengr said...

I just moved into a new, historical (i.e. old!) House, and every night so far I've seen at least 2-3 of these monitoring my ceilings and walls! I definately can't sleep well yet, especially after watching one dangle then drop off the mantle. I always catch things and set them free, so these guys present a huge problem, as I don't want to kill em bu no WAY I'll catch em! Since they kill all the other pests, total props...but eeewwww, SICK! And in my clothes or bed...double sick!!

Anonymous said...

My fiance and I just moved into a old house..We decided we were going to fix it up to make it look nicer. Now almost every night we see two or three of these monstrous bugs. At first we didnt know what they were but they scared us half to death. For this reason we dedicated half of our cleaning cabinet to bug spray. But I'm warning you all not to be fooled. These creepy bugs are fast and fierce. If you sneak up on one ready to spray it, it will take off running at lightning speed to a safe place. My fiance chased one all the way across a room once and it didn't even shutter. Also, it takes two or three times to kill one by hitting it with a shoe. They just scurry about nastily. We've always found them on the floors, however, I just found out they can crawl up walls and cielings. EXTRA CREEPY!!!! The house is way too old to fill all the cracks and plus we live in a shaded area under like 50 trees so trying to exterminate them is almost pointless.

├ętienne said...

They started appearing in my Manhattan studio (apparently they try to get inside during the fall to avoid cold.)
At first I thought this was gross, but now that I know they eat roaches, I can see a benefit to not killing them in NYC!
I only saw them one at a time, walking across the floor, or not moving in a corner. They were very easy to kill. Although they look big with the long legs, once crushed by a magazine there remains only a tiny thing.
What's creepy is that with their color, they're almost invisible on my dark wooden floor!

Anonymous said...

We live near Toronto and find centipedes in our house once or twice a month. We simply ignore them. They don't attack people and are extremely beneficial since their entire diet consists of insects and spiders. Why would you want to kill them? They also do no damage whatsoever to a house or its contents. I'll take them any day over silverfish and spiders.

Anonymous said...

Just killed one last night in my kitchen. Very fast buy after he was in pieces I noticed some of the legs twitched every few seconds for almost an hour.

Anonymous said...

They are SO cool! We have them in Colorado. They are shy, avoid people, like damp cellars and dark basements and eat lots of other bugs. They even eat spiders, I've seen one catch one, tuck it up under a few legs like a football, and keep on running! Since they only came upstairs when they were lost (or looking for water) I just let them walk onto a facecloth and take them back down to where they want to be anyway. They don't like people, so I let them do their thing. Very neat animals.

Anonymous said...

I've seen them once in awhile in my basement, but since I put a dehumidifier down there......rarely see any bugs in the basement.

turn2stone said...

just decided to look these bugs up today. we first came across these creatures in our 1870's house. they were probably holding the thing together! i remember one night my wife frantically called me home from work (police station) as one was on the ceiling above our baby's 2nd floor crib. not enough handcuffs in the station so i took him out quickly with a paper towel.at that house they were about the size of a cigarette with legs. quite a sight watching tv and seeing one of these things scrambling about out of the corner of your eye.They remind my of kurt russell's 1980's movie The Thing. we've since moved to a 20 yr old house...and yes we still find one every now and then in the finished basement. usually a bit smaller, but just as nasty looking.

Anonymous said...

The house centipede is native to Mexico but is now found throughout the United States. The Scutigera coleoptrata, or common house centipede, is an unmistakable fixture in many homes. While they can be found in a variety of locations worldwide and thrive in differing environments, they infest homes for warmth and protection in the winter.

The house centipede measures between one and two inches in length and like other centipedes, it has a long, flattened body. However, its 15 pairs of legs are longer than most and are banded white. The last pair of legs is longest and often appears to be a second set of antennae. Any of the house centipede's 30 legs can detach if grasped by a predator. The body of the house centipede is grayish-yellow to brown in color. House centipedes have lengthy, slender antennae and three longitudinal dorsal stripes. During the first of their six larval stages, house centipedes have only four pairs of legs. At each molt, these arthropods grow more legs.

Although the body of a house centipede is stout and contains 15 body segments, there are only seven tergites, or plates, on the upper body surface. This configuration allows house centipedes to be fast runners as well as efficient hunters. If caught by a predator, a house centipede will reflexively detach its legs, which it is capable of regenerating at a later time.

House centipedes come into the living space of homes. They are commonly found in kitchen cabinets, bathrooms, basements, garages and crawlspaces beneath buildings. Stockpiles of firewood are also favorite lurking places for the house centipede.

House centipedes feed on spiders, bedbugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish and other common household pests. Although their prey is killed through an injection of venom, the bite of a house centipede rarely induces serious effects in humans.

In order to identify the severity of a house centipede infestation, sticky traps can be set. These traps will provide an accurate gauge of population levels, as well as potential routes of access within your home. After the infestation is confirmed, homeowners should reduce moisture and seal routes of entry. Moisture in a building's foundation can lead to infestation, as can water accumulated from the roof. Leaves, wood, compost and other organic material should be kept away from the building.

Anonymous said...

you want to know how to get rid of them, use hot shot fogger, go nuts with it. yeah sure it's a chemical but if you want get rid of anything you have to use chemicals, just ask the us government they're experts at that.

Jackie McElheny said...

Dont chase them all over, just get out some cheap hairspray. it doesnt take them too long to stop running.

R Dodds said...

Actually we have them in Canada. Completely harmless-I HATE spiders and our old home is generally overrun with them except when I see the occasional centipede and magically all the spiders seem to disappear....

humanegirl said...

House centipedes, while admittedly not attractive, are highly beneficial since they are carnivores and eat destructive household pests like cockroaches, silverfish, bed bugs, etc. They do not harm household items or humans. Just leave them alone. They serve as unpaid chemical-free pest control agents in your home. Those of you who attempt to eliminate them by spraying toxic pesticide are creating an unnecessary hazard in your home to kill a beneficial creature. Whenever I see one, I am happy that he or she is on duty hunting and killing harmful pests.