How to Kill an Infestation of Centipedes


Centipedes are arthropods, which means they have segmented bodies with more than six jointed legs. Despite the name, they do not have 100 legs. Instead, centipedes have one set of legs for every body segment. Most centipedes are long and flat, and may reach several inches in length. They commonly invade households in the spring or fall. While you can kill the bugs, most infestations can be dealt with non-lethally by blocking centipedes' access and removing environmental comforts, such as dampness. If this fails to end the infestation, you can kill them with insecticide.

Things You'll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Caulk
  • Rake
  • Dehumidifier
  • Insecticide
  • Observe where the centipedes gather in your home and try to determine the access points they are using. Shine a flashlight in dark, damp corners to check for the bugs; they will scatter quickly when confronted with the light and may give you clues by crawling into a crack that could double as an access point.

  • Plug with caulk the holes or cracks that you suspect the centipedes are using. Caulk cracks inside and out to ensure a firm barrier. Use caulk appropriate for your area's weather, and check the label to ensure it will withstand outdoor conditions.

  • Dry out the area where you observe the centipedes. Mop up any standing water and set up a dehumidifier for several days. The centipedes need water to survive and will die in a dry environment.

  • Rake away moist piles of leaves from your home's exterior walls and foundation. Move woodpiles away from the home. Centipedes may gather in both places to live or eat and find their way into your home. Remove the environment to thwart their entry.

  • Apply an exterior insecticide around the base of your home. Use a centipede-specific formula, or one made for the closely related millipede. Reapply the insecticide several times a year, according to manufacturer's instructions, or more often in areas with heavy rainfall that can wash away the chemicals.

Tips & Warnings

  • Centipedes usually are harmless, but may bite if picked up or squished.
  • Read the insecticide label carefully. Most are not meant for interior use.

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