What we are about to tell you might go against all of your most common instincts, as most of us are trained to crush and kill strange insects and pests that make their way into our homes. However, those who choose to ignore our warnings and smash any centipede that makes their way inside are giving themselves an unwanted problem.
Look, we know that it goes against human instinct, but you really shouldn’t ever stomp on a centipede. Even if you’re in the bathroom in the middle of the night and one of the little devils comes scuttling out of the drain, trust us, you have to resist the urge. It’s challenging, because there are few crawlies as creepy as a squirmy, fast-moving centipede.
Even those of us who are immune to the creep factor of spiders, ants, and roaches might get the shivers when confronted with all those segmented legs.
The yuck factor gets even higher when you consider their favorite hangout spots. These guys like to hang out in cool damp place, and might even take up residence in your toilet if you aren’t careful. You have our blessing to remove these guys from the commode, but if you get the urge to stomp, resist
Centipedes are one of the ugliest creepy crawlers found indoors, with their squishy bodies and long legs, and when you see one on your basement ceiling you probably have the urge to kill that sucker. But you might want to consider letting that centipede free instead, because it could actually come in handy.
The reason why is simple: you should never squish a centipede because it might be the only thing standing between you and a bathroom very much alive with other much more sinister creatures.
As one of the most misunderstood heroes of pest control, the house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata) is usually received with screams rather than gratitude. But its creepy-crawly looks are deceiving.
The house centipede is a little shorter than his family friends, and he has about 30 legs. He isn’t exactly attractive to look at, but he’s one of nature’s best defenses against other unwanted house guests. The house centipede has an interesting diet. It’s full of spiders, ants, bedbugs, cockroaches and silverfish.
While alarming, these creatures are actually nature’s best defense against other, even ickier house guests.
Consider this: the house centipede is surely the stuff of nightmares, but it’s also a voracious eater. With origins in the Mediterranean, house centipedes are naturally nocturnal soil-dwelling hunters that we now most frequently encounter in humid basements and bathrooms.
And, while some will spend their whole lives indoors, others can be found outdoors during the growing season. There, they prey on pests such as grubs and cutworms, among other ground-dwelling insects and spiders, until cooler temperatures drive them inside in fall.
Basically, every arthropod pest in your home is a 5-star dinner to a centipede. That’s because centipedes and silverfish tend to enjoy the same environmental conditions, like cool and humid areas.
If you spot a centipede but haven’t seen any other creepy-crawlies slithering around, you can probably thank your friendly neighborhood exterminator for keeping the problem in check.
Driven by a high metabolic rate, just one centipede has the ability to decimate an astounding number of bad bugs. However, if you still can’t stand the sight of them, know that their presence in the home is often indicative of cracks in foundation masonry and gaps around windows—a problem easily fixed with some caulk.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should let your home become a free-for-all refugee center for all the world’s centipedes. They are alarming, and they have a bad habit of scuttling out from their hiding places before quickly darting to a place like under your bed. Yikes.
In 1902, an entomologist with the USDA described them as follows:
“It may often be seen darting across floors with very great speed, occasionally stopping suddenly and remaining absolutely motionless, presently to resume its rapid movements, often darting directly at inmates of the house… thus creating much consternation.”
Just because they are considered “friendly” insects doesn’t mean you need to suffer from any consternation!
So instead of killing them, consider scooping them into a jar and putting them outside in an area around your home with lots of damp leaves and rocks. He can continue his lunch in peace and help stop a few creatures from finding their way into your home.
You can also try to reduce moisture and humidity in spots like your basement and bathroom to discourage centipedes from moving in.
If you have only seen one or two centipedes, we might even suggest letting them stay. If you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you, and they will take care of all the other creepy crawlies. Any more than that is probably overkill though.
“Well can’t I just kill spiders myself?” Sure, but it’s worth noting that doing so puts you at risk of accidentally releasing hundreds of live baby spiders all over your house. A centipede would never make such a blunder.
In the end, the average house centipede can’t really do anything to hurt you — other than scarring you psychologically and haunting your waking dreams of course.
Truth be told though, the house centipede isn’t even strong enough to bite a human, unlike its gigantic deadly tropical bros.
Unlike houseflies and cockroaches, these bad boys can’t really track serious germs into your home, especially because they are very fastidious and spend a large part of every day cleaning their many legs.
In other words, centipedes just want to eat all the spiders in your bathroom and make you happy, and there’s nothing wrong with that!
But hey, if you still aren’t convinced, we get it. Centipedes are still not exactly cute puppies after all. So if you just can’t leave him inside to do his job, scoop him up and toss him outside. He’ll more than likely find a good hunting spot outside, therefore preventing any other pests from entering your fortress of solitude.
If you don’t bother him, he won’t bother you. The best part is, you don’t even have to pay him for his services.