Small worm with legs


Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Class Diplopoda

What Do They Look Like?

  • Size: 2.5 to 4 cm long
  • Color: Common North American species are brownish in color.
  • Body & Legs: Long and slender, millipedes look like worms with legs. They are segmented, with two pair of legs per segment.

How Did I Get Millipedes?

They usually dwell in damp areas outdoors but can migrate inside if their habitat outdoors becomes too hot and dry. Once inside, they may hide under furniture or boxes of stored items.


When they come to a home, millipedes gather on porches and patios. They climb the foundation of the home and they often find entryways such as:

  • Basement doors and windows
  • Crawlspace vents
  • Doors with missing weather stripping
  • Garage doors

How Serious Are Millipedes?

Are They Dangerous?

Millipedes do not bite or sting, nor do they do any damage to stored food, structures, or furniture. However, there are some species of millipedes that excrete a defensive fluid that irritates the skin of people who handle them or otherwise come into contact with those toxic millipede species.

Since the pests are most active at night, their appearance can scare homeowners moving boxes or other items. Millipedes also move in large numbers, so they can become a major nuisance and cause quite a fright to unsuspecting people or pets. But, since millipedes feed on and thus decompose organic matter, they are actually very beneficial to the environment.

Signs of an Infestation

Other than the sightings of the millipedes, there aren’t many distinct signs of their presence.

How Do I Get Rid of Millipedes?

In an emergency, a vacuum cleaner or a shop-type vacuum can be used to remove millipedes from walls and floors. When the situation gets bad, many homeowners call for help.

What Orkin Does

The Orkin Man™ is trained to manage millipedes. Using Orkin’s exclusive system of Assess, Implement, and Monitor (A.I.M.), he can design a solution for your home’s unique situation.

  • Inspection – Millipede treatment usually begins with an inspection by your pest management professional to locate the source how the pests are getting inside the home. Once the inspection is completed, your technician will prepare a plan that may involve both non-chemical and chemical treatment methods.
  • Prevention – Non-chemical components of the plan will emphasize preventing the pests from getting inside the home and reducing suitable habitats. Some specific actions include sealing around doors, windows, cracks, gaps, and crevices, plus reducing moist places that promote millipede survival. For example, the plan may recommend limiting the amount of mulch, rocks, or debris that are likely to create moist areas favoring large numbers of millipedes.
  • Removal – If chemical products are the most effective and efficient approach, your plan might include exterior and interior applications of products to potential entry points and harborage sites where millipedes accumulate.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Where Do They Live?

Millipedes normally live outdoors in damp places. Around homes they live in flowerbeds and gardens. People often find millipedes under:

  • Mulch
  • Piles of dead leaves and grass clippings
  • Structures like dog houses and storage sheds

Crawlspaces are excellent millipede habitats. There are often boxes of stored items and pieces of lumber on the ground under a home. The millipedes can feed on dead leaves that have blown into the crawl space or small pieces of damp or decaying wood.


In the fall, millipedes often migrate. They move out of their normal habitat. Scientists suspect they may be trying to get ready for winter. However, millipedes have also been seen migrating after a heavy rain has flooded their habitat. During these migrations, millipedes often find their way into homes.

What Do They Eat?

They eat dead leaves and decaying wood particles that they find.


Eggs are deposited in the soil; most species reach sexual maturity in the second year and live several years after that.

  • Are Millipedes Poisonous?
  • Do Millipedes Bite?
  • How Long Do Millipedes Live?
  • Millipede Infestations
  • Types of Millipedes
  • What Do Millipedes Eat?

Interesting Facts About Millipedes

Though not harmful, millipedes can be a nuisance. Learn all of the milipede facts you need to know that will help you to better understand these creatures.

Millipedes are those long black bugs with what seems like a million tiny legs that you see crawling in your bedroom windows and that curl into a tight ball when threatened. They won’t bite you, but they can emit a smelly fluid that might irritate your eyes or skin. Though they’re not harmful to your family, they can be a nuisance in large numbers. Here are more millipede facts to help you better understand these many-legged creatures.
Millipedes are arthropods. While they may resemble thousand-legged worms, millipedes are, in fact, not worms but arthropods, meaning they are invertebrates with an exoskeleton, a segmented body and jointed appendages.1
Millipedes are some of the oldest creatures to walk on land. Fossilized evidence show that a millipede-like creature was one of the first and largest invertebrates to walk on land at six feet long and one and a half feet wide.2 One particular fossil has been traced back 420 million years and was named Pnueumodesmus newmani for the person who discovered it.
Millipedes are nature’s little recyclers. They are detritivores, meaning they feed on dead plants and animals. The millipedes’ snacking recycles nutrients back into the soil at a much faster rate than plants and animals decomposing naturally. Ranging in size from one-quarter to even 15 inches long, millipedes play a large role in breaking down nature’s waste.
Millipedes love damp spaces because they require moisture to live. That’s why you’ll mostly find them around your crawl spaces, damp basements, cellars and sliding glass doors/windows-if you find them inside your home at all. Millipedes much prefer the outdoors, making their homes under mulch, compost, stones and leaf piles.3
Although a millipede’s natural home is not inside your home, you may find them in the spring and fall after long periods of rain or drought. But they won’t be there for long. Because millipedes require such high moisture levels, they usually die within one to two days inside a home. So if you have an infestation, simply wait out the “invaders” and vacuum up the remains.4
Millipedes do not have a thousand legs. A hatchling is born with only three pairs of legs and can grow up to 200 as an adult. They have two pairs of legs per body segment. This is the main difference between millipedes and centipedes, since centipedes only have one pair of legs per segment.
Millipedes protect themselves by curling up into a spiral whenever they feel threatened. This protects their soft undersides. They also curl into a spiral when they die.3
Millipedes and centipedes, while related, are very different. Millipedes’ bodies are rounder, while centipedes have a flatter appearance and elongated antennae. Centipedes are also much quicker than millipedes. The most important difference is that centipedes are carnivores and some species can bite. A centipede’s bite is quite painful and its venom can cause health problems. If you suspect you or a loved one may have been bitten by a centipede, be sure to consult a physician.6,7
When you understand the facts about millipedes, you can better prevent them from entering your home or from panicking should you find that one has made its way inside.


Next > Are Millipedes Considered Poisonous?

1. Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences 2. National Park Service 3. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture 4. Colorado State University Extension 5. Bloomberg Business 6. Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County 7. Texas A&M University – Department of Entomology

Horsehair worms

Horsehair worm (left) and the cricket from which it emerged.

Horsehair worms are parasites of certain insects, especially crickets and grasshoppers. They are commonly found in puddles of water, on damp sidewalks and patios, or as they emerge from bodies of their insect hosts. Despite their sometime frightening appearance, these creatures are not harmful and have no economic importance.

The long, thin structure of these worms is so similar to that of a hair that it was formerly thought that they were transformed from the tail hair of horses. Horse hairs frequently drop into watering troughs where they can accumulate. Coincidentially, insects (including those parasitized by horsehair worms) also frequently fall into the water of horse troughs and die. Horsehair worms which emerge from parasitized insects were seen swimming in water troughs and supposed to have spontaneously transformed from the long horse hairs; hence the term “horsehair worm”.


Horsehair worms are insect parasites that belong to the phylum Nematomorpha. One of the most common species in the United States in Gordius robustus.

The body of the horsehair worms is extremely long and thread-like. Lengths of a foot or more are not common. The body diameter is about the width of a pencil lead. They are creamy to blackish in color, and frequently are twisted and coiled like a discared thread.

Not much is known about the life of horsehair worms. Adults, the stage most commonly seen, live in water or very moist soil. Adults live in all types of fresh-water habitats and can be found in both temperate and tropical regions. They commonly swim or crawl about with a whip-like motion. Immature stages are parasites on insects or crustaceans living in or near water, or in moist soil. One species of horsehair worm lives in salt water and parasitizes crabs. Beetles, cockroaches, crickets or grasshoppers are the most common hosts in urban areas. Emergence from the host occurs only when the host is near water. Occasionally, horsehair worms are found after a cricket or cockroach is crushed, or when the host hops into a container of water, and the worm exits out of the insect’s body.


Since horsehair worms are parasitic, they are assumed to be beneficial in the control of certain insects. Its true value as a parasite, however, is questionable because the worm does not kill its host until it matures. Horsehair worms are not parasites of humans or pets. Therefore, these creatures are primarily of interest as one of nature’s oddities. If their presence in a swimming pool is bothersome, they can be safely removed by hand or with a net.

Horsehair worms can be confused with other parasitic worms of the phylum Nematoda. Parasitic nematodes are usually microscopic and can further be distinguished by the structure of the posterior (tail) of the body. The tail of parasitic nematodes is hooked and the anal opening occurs before the body’s end. In contrast, the end of Gordius horsehair worms have a cleft.

For more information

For more information about crickets and cricket control, see the fact sheet Cricket Control in the Fall. Information in this [email protected] was based, in part, on Pennak, R.W. 1978. Chapter 10: Nematomorpha (Horsehair worms, Gordian worms) pp. 231-238. in Freshwater Invertebrates of the United States. 2nd Ed. John Wiley and Sons, New York. 803 pp.


Michael Merchant, Ph.D., Professor and Extension Urban Entomologist, Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Mary Wicksten, Professor of Biology, Texas A&M University

How to Manage Pests

Pests of Homes, Structures, People, and Pets

Horsehair Worms

Revised 3/13

In this Guideline:

  • Life cycle
  • Importance
  • Management
  • About Pest Notes
  • Publication
  • Glossary

Adult horsehair worm.

Horsehair worms often twist into a loose ball-shaped knot, such as these adults.

An example of a horsehair worm life cycle. After the egg of the horsehair worm hatches, an aquatic insect, such as a mayfly nymph, eats the preparasitic larva. Inside the mayfly, the larva encysts but doesn’t begin to develop until a host such as a mantid that the horsehair worm can parasitize eats the mayfly. Once in the mantid, the horsehair worm grows to an adult and emerges when the mantid seeks water. Many variations of this cycle occur.

Horsehair worms belong to the phylum Nematomorpha, from the Greek word meaning thread-shaped, class Gordioida. They are also called Gordian worms, because they will often twist into a loose ball-shaped knot resembling the baffling one Gordius created in the Greek myth and that is referred to as the Gordian knot.

Horsehair worms occur in knotted masses or as single worms in water sources such as ponds, rain puddles, swimming pools, animal drinking troughs, and even domestic water supplies. Adult worms measure 1/25 inch in diameter and may reach 1 foot or more in length. An old and still common misconception is that these long, thin, brown to blackish worms develop from horsehairs that fall into water. Because horsehair worms are parasites of invertebrates, especially certain insects, they are commonly encountered in agricultural areas, particularly those having water-impoundment and irrigation facilities.


There are four stages in the life of a horsehair worm: the egg, the preparasitic larva that hatches from the egg, the parasitic larva that develops within an invertebrate (its host), and the free-living aquatic adult. The worms spend the winter in water. After mating in spring, the female worm deposits a string of eggs 12 to 24 inches long in the water. About three weeks to one month later, minute immature larvae hatch. These larvae must parasitize an invertebrate host to develop. Suitable hosts for different species of horsehair worms include larger predaceous arthropods (often mantids, water beetles, carabid beetles, or dragonflies) or omnivores (such as crickets and other closely related insects, or millipedes).

There are several ways that horsehair worms parasitize hosts and complete their development. Although some of these life cycles have been studied, others aren’t well understood. Sometimes the host directly ingests the larvae, which immediately move into their parasitic stage and develop within that host.

For other horsehair worm species, the larvae of water-inhabiting insects (mayflies, mosquitoes, and chironomids) or tadpoles ingest the preparasitic larvae. When horsehair larvae are ingested by these organisms, they encyst (enclose themselves in a cystlike structure) in the host’s body cavity and remain encysted as this initial host develops into an adult. If an insect such as a mantid, cricket, or carabid beetle consumes an adult with an encysted worm, the worm emerges from the cyst and completes its development in the second host.

Finally, some preparasitic horsehair worm larvae encyst on leaves or other debris when a water source dries up. If a suitable host, such as a millipede, eats this cyst when ingesting vegetation, the horsehair worm larvae can move into the parasitic stage.

About three months after the horsehair worm parasitizes a host, the host is impelled to seek out water. When the host enters the water, the mature worm emerges. Adult worms are free-living in water and don’t feed, but they can live many months. They overwinter in water or mud, and the cycle repeats itself the following spring.


Horsehair worms parasitize only invertebrates such as insects. To complete their life cycle, the worms must infect large invertebrates that are relatively long lived. Generally, horsehair worms aren’t considered an effective biological control agent, because they parasitize only a small percentage of a host population.

Horsehair worms are harmless to vertebrates, because they can’t parasitize people, livestock, pets, or birds. They also don’t infect plants. If humans ingest the worms, they may encounter some mild discomfort of the intestinal tract, but infection never occurs.


Control of horsehair worms in natural water sources is impractical. Furthermore, the worms can be beneficial, because they will parasitize a few pest insect species, although their effect on natural invertebrate populations is minimal.

If the worms are found in livestock water troughs, the water can be kept clean with routine flushing. Use a fine mesh filter if pumping water from a surface supply such as a canal or pond. If the worms occur in swimming pools, they can be removed by hand or with a net.

Domestic water supply systems should be filtered, chemically treated, and inspected for necessary repairs, especially when the homeowner discovers horsehair worms in wash water, bathtubs, or sinks. Moreover, it isn’t unusual to find horsehair worms in the home in such places as shower stalls or toilets where crickets may die and worms emerge into the water. Prevent nuisance insects such as crickets, which are known hosts, from entering the home by caulking or sealing entryways.


Loomis, E. C., and L. L. Dunning. 1981. Horsehair Worms. Oakland: Univ. Calif. Agric. Nat. Res. Leaflet 21238.


Pest Notes: Horsehair Worms

UC ANR Publication 7471

Author: H. K. Kaya, Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis.

Editor: M. Fayard

Technical Editor: M. L. Flint

Produced by University of California Statewide IPM Program

PDF: To display a PDF document, you may need to use a PDF reader.

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What are Those Tiny White Bugs in or around Your Home?

Nobody wants to find a bug in their home, and it can be even worse when you don’t know what kind of insect it is. If you see tiny white bugs in your house, they could be any number of pests. And the type of pest largely depends on where you find it. Learn about some common white bugs and find out which ones may pose a threat to your home.


The threat of termites causes concern for almost every homeowner – and with good reason. These destructive pests cause around $5 billion in damage and repair costs in the United States each year. Certain castes of subterranean termites are white in color. Because they live underground, it’s extremely uncommon to see these termites in your home, unless they are performing mating flights (also called “swarms”) or an infestation is severe. Still, it’s important to be on the lookout. Workers are charged with feeding other termites in the colony and caring for the young. They have all white bodies. Soldiers are the colony’s defenders and usually have white bodies with orange-brown colored heads and large jaws. These pests require professional treatment. Termite swarmers (the flying termite reproductives) are actually a darker color, not white.

Learn > Other Signs of Termite Activity

Because termites are hard to spot and damage can go unnoticed for long periods of time, it’s recommended to have a termite control professional inspect your home annually. Schedule your FREE termite inspection today.


Clothes Moths

There are several species of moths, but there is one in particular that is known to be pests in homes: the webbing clothes moth. Webbing clothes moths are about 3/8 of an inch long and cream colored. Their worm-like larvae are white. Clothes moth larvae feed on natural fibers, including animal hair like wool and cashmere. If these moths enter your closet, they can easily damage your clothes. To avoid damage, at-risk items should be stored in plastic coverings.

Related > Why Do Moths Eat Clothes?


Psocids can live indoors or outdoors. Outside, they’re commonly found under the bark of trees, which has earned them the nickname “bark lice.” Inside, they can be difficult to see with the naked eye. These small insects measure about 1/25 to 1/13 of an inch in length. They prefer dark, moist places with mold, which they feed on, and they may be found in the bathroom or kitchen. Psocids may also be referred to as “book lice,” although they’re not really lice at all – they just happen to be found near books stored in damp locations. Most psocids don’t have wings, and they can’t fly. Fortunately for homeowners, they are mostly harmless and are rarely seen as pests. Some species can feed on glue in books and can destroy book bindings. And some other species are stored product pests because they feed on the glue of the packaging and reproduce in the stored product.

Grain Mites

Most likely to be found in the kitchen, grain mites are extremely small, pearly-white or grayish-white insects. They prefer to live in conditions with high moisture and humidity. As their name implies, they feed on processed grains, as well as wheat germ, yeast, cheese, flour and cereals. These bugs may be transported into your home through packaged foods. If the conditions in your pantry are warm and humid enough, they can reproduce rapidly, with females laying up to 800 eggs in their lifetime. Grain mites are known for leaving a brownish tinge called “mite dust” on contaminated food, and since their size is so small, this is often the best sign of their existence.

If you find grain mites in your home, dispose of any contaminated food. Clean your kitchen and shelves thoroughly and ensure that all foods are sealed in airtight containers to avoid further contamination. And since grain mites need high humidity, drying an area out can help control them.


If you have several houseplants, you may be putting yourself at risk of these tiny white bugs. Mealybugs are most commonly found outdoors, where they infest perennial plants like fuchsia, gardenia and hibiscus, as well as citrus trees and grapes. These insects are very small, oval-shaped and white in color. They are known for excreting a sticky, wax-like substance. In nature, mealybugs have a number of natural predators that help control their colonies and reduce populations. Be sure to inspect any greenhouse plants before bringing them home or planting them in your garden.


These tiny white flying bugs are related to aphids and mealybugs. These insects are tiny, with the exact size depending on the species. Like mealybugs, whiteflies are known for infesting and damaging plants. They also excrete sticky honeydew and are difficult to control. Whiteflies are commonly found outside, but they can be transported into the home on infested houseplants. As with mealybugs, before purchasing any plants to bring into your home, check under leaves for these insects to help avoid infestation.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Whether you think you’re dealing with a harmless psocid or a fearsome termite, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you see insects in your home, contact a professional. The pest control professionals at Terminix® are trained to identify common home invaders and can provide specialized treatment options to help you keep your home protected from insects.

Garden Symphylan – Small, White Worm-Like Bugs In The Soil

Garden symphylans are not often seen by gardeners, so when they do appear in the garden, they can be perplexing. These small white cousins to centipedes dislike light and will quickly move away from it, meaning that while a gardener may have these pests, they may be unaware of it.

What are Garden Symphylans?

What are garden symphylans and what do they look like? Garden symphylans are small — no more than a 1/4 inch, typically. They will be white or cream, almost translucent in some cases, with relatively long antennae. They may have up to 12 legs, but may have less. They will be flat and segmented, like a centipede would be. In fact, they look so much like a centipede, that they are frequently called ‘garden centipedes.’

Garden symphylan thrive best in heavy or organic rich, moist soil. They also must have soil that has many worms or at least worm burrows in it, as they travel through the soil in the former burrows of worms or other soil tunneling soil dwellers.

Garden Symphylan Damage

Garden symphylans are most dangerous to seedlings. They feast on new root growth and seedlings are unable to survive the attacks. They will also attack the new root growth on mature plants and, while they will be unable to kill the plant, they can weaken it, which will stunt its growth and make it susceptible to other pests and diseases.

Garden Symphylan Control

In an open garden bed, the soil can either be treated with a soil insecticide or it can be frequently and deeply tilled. Deep tilling will destroy the burrows that the garden symphylans travel through. This will, in turn, trap them where they are and they will starve to death.

In containers where there is an infestation, you can either treat the soil with an insecticide or you can repot the plant, making sure that all of the soil is thoroughly washed away from the roots so as to prevent re-infestation. Be aware though that this kind of treatment may harm your plant so if you decide to follow this method, you should do so during dormancy or in the cooler months.

Here’s why you SHOULDN’T kill house centipedes

Find Your Forecast

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Friday, July 20, 2018, 9:06 AM – Warmer weather means more bugs. And while you might not like sharing a space with creepy crawlies, there are benefits to keeping some of them around (see the video above!).

Of all the bugs that invade Canadian homes, many find the house centipede — also referred to as scutigera coleoptrata — one of the scariest.


This species is thought to have been introduced to the Americas via Mexico and now reaches as far as the great white north.

It’s shorter than other centipedes, with about 30 legs that can detach when trapped. To some, they look terrifying but they are considered harmless.

A bite from one, however, will sting, similar to that of a bee’s.

House centipedes love damp, dark spaces like bathrooms and basements and when you see one, your first instinct might be to kill it. But before you do, keep this in mind:

Centipedes love to dine on ants, spiders, cockroaches and bedbugs — so if you see a centipede in your home but no other bug species, there’s a pretty good chance they’ve taken on the role of exterminator for you.

Centipedes can be easily scooped up and left outside to continue their work.

If you want to prevent them from getting in your home, consider:

  • Drying up damp areas of your home
  • Eliminating large indoor insect populations
  • Sealing cracks in your home

And just remember: They’re more afraid of you than you are of them. If you decide to let them stay in your home, they’ll try their best to keep out of sight.

What kind of bug is THAT?

Identifying your occasional pest infestation

Have you ever spied a bug dashing across your kitchen floor or scurrying under a baseboard and thought, “What in the world is that?” It’s clearly not a “common” pest like, say, a cockroach or spider. It’s something… different. If you’ve ever had this experience, the bug in question likely falls in a category we call “occasional invaders.”

As their name implies, occasional invaders are pests that, on occasion, may find their way into our homes, but are not as common as frequent household pests, such as ants, rodents or termites.

Some occasional invaders pose more serious threats than others. To determine the risk to your family, you will need to identify the species. A trained pest professional will be able to properly identify a pest species and its threats, but you can also use this guide to do your best at determining what may be lurking within your home:

Boxelder Bugs

  • What to look for: Boxelder bugs are black with distinct reddish or orange markings on their dorsum and have an elongated, somewhat flattened shape.
  • Where you’re likely to spot them: These bugs get their common name from the fact that they are often found on and around boxelder trees. These occasional invaders congregate on the south sides of buildings, where the sun hits, and may migrate indoors during the fall. You might see them in small cracks and crevices in walls. They’ll reemerge in the spring.
  • Watch out for: Boxelder bugs are not known to bite, but their piercing-sucking mouthparts can occasionally puncture skin, producing a red spot similar to a mosquito bite. When crushed, boxelder bugs may leave a reddish orange stain from their fecal material that can result in discoloration of curtains, drapes, clothing, etc.


  • What to look for: Centipedes are sometimes called “hundred-leggers” because of their many pairs of legs. They are yellowish to dark brown with darker stripes.
  • Where you’re likely to spot them: Centipedes are typically found in areas of high moisture. Indoors, this means they hang out in damp basements, crawlspaces, bathrooms, or potted plants.
  • Watch out for: House centipedes have poison jaws with which they inject venom into their prey. If handled roughly, some larger species can inflict a painful bite that can break human skin and causes pain and swelling, similar to a bee sting.
  • What to look for: Millipedes are often confused with centipedes, but tend to look more “wormlike” in appearance. They are sometimes called “thousand-leggers” and are blackish or brownish, sometimes with red or orange patterns.
  • Where you’re likely to spot them: Most millipedes are nocturnal. They are typically found in areas of high moisture and decaying vegetation, such as under trash, in piles of grass clippings or piles of leaves. Millipedes do not usually survive indoors for more than a few days unless there are high moisture conditions and a food supply is present.
  • Watch out for: Some millipede species give off a foul-smelling fluid through openings along the sides of the body. Underscoring the importance of millipede control, this fluid can be toxic to small animals and pets, and can cause small blisters on humans.


  • What to look for: Earwigs have elongated, flattened bodies and forcep-like cerci that are used to defend themselves and capture prey. They are generally reddish brown to black.
  • Where you’re likely to spot them: Earwigs tend to occur in groups. They feed on plants and prefer moist, shady locations.
  • Watch out for: Contrary to folklore, earwigs do not crawl into ears at night. They do not spread diseases, but their menacing appearance can be alarming.

House crickets

  • What to look for: In the case of house crickets, you’re more likely to hear them before you see them. They are known for their loud chirping which is caused by rubbing their front wings together to attract females.
  • Where you’re likely to spot them: House crickets are active at night and usually hide in dark warm places during the day. They are often attracted to electric lights in larger numbers, sometimes by the thousands, and rest on vertical surfaces such as light poles and house walls.
  • Watch out for: Crickets can feast on fabrics and carpets, eating large areas, leaving holes and they are especially attracted to clothes soiled with perspiration.


  • What to look for: You may know these dark brown or black bugs as “rollie-pollies,” named for their habit of rolling into a ball when disturbed. They are easily recognized by their back, which is made up of seven hard individual plates.
  • Where you’re likely to spot them: Pillbugs are most active at night. They live in moist locations and are usually found under damp objects such as trash, rocks, or decaying vegetation, where they remain hidden during the day to reduce water loss. They sometimes find their way indoors via door thresholds, especially around sliding glass doors. A home invasion typically means there is a large population immediately outside the building.
  • Watch out for: Pillbugs cause no damage and are considered a nuisance pest indoors.


  • What to look for: Silverfish get their name from their silvery, metallic appearance and fish-like shape and movements. They have no wings, but are able to run very fast.
  • Where you’re likely to spot them: Silverfish are typically seen in moist, humid areas in the home, such as bathrooms, basements, and attics. Silverfish can live up to a year without food, but require a high-humidity environment.
  • Watch out for: These bugs feed on paper items like wallpaper and books, glue, clothing and foods including flour and rolled oats. They tend to hide their presence from humans, which means any damage they have caused could go unnoticed as well.

If you are concerned about occasional invaders getting in your home, there are some simple steps you can take to help prevent them from gaining access. If you suspect an infestation of an occasional invader pest, work with a licensed pest professional to properly identify the species and determine the best way to treat the problem.

Common House Centipedes

Facts, Identification, & Control

Scientific Name

Scutigera coleoptrata What Do They Look Like?

  • Size: House centipedes have long, flattened bodies, which can measure as long as 1-1/2 inches long
  • Color: The body is a yellowish-brown with three dark stripes running along the top of the body with lighter shading between them.
  • Eyes: They have large, well-developed eyes.
  • Legs: The arthropods have 15 segments, and each features one pair of legs. The centipede’s legs are long, slender, and thread-like, and have black and white banding. On females, the last pair of legs is more than twice as long as the body.

How Did I Get House Centipedes?

House centipedes prefer damp and dark areas. As a result, homes with moisture problems can attract these pests. Residents may see them in basements, closets, or bathrooms, sometimes even in tubs or sinks. House centipedes will prey on insects that are in the same areas.

How Serious Are House Centipedes?

Though possible, house centipede bites are rare. And since they eat insects, most people consider them harmless and even beneficial. However, they may become a nuisance. Worried residents may crush a house centipede, which can leave behind stains.

Signs of Infestation

Centipedes typically leave no direct evidence other than being spotted in a sink or tub and being seen quickly running across floors or climbing on walls and ceilings.

How Do I Get Rid of House Centipedes?

What Orkin Does

If house centipedes become a problem, the best course of action is to seek the advice and assistance of your pest management professional (PMP).

  • Inspection: Your PMP will perform an inspection and determine the most likely sources of the population.
  • Traps: He or she might set out some sticky traps to monitor for their activity, but will certainly advise the homeowner on what can be done to reduce moist conditions and upgrade exclusions for possible and actual points of entry.
  • Remove Clutter: Outside recommendations will include removing clutter that serves as house centipede habitat.
  • Kill Other Pests: Eliminating other insect species from the home is an effective control strategy because centipedes depend on insects and other arthropods for food. For this reason, it’s very important to identify other pests inside houses and buildings and target those pests using both non-chemical and chemical control methods as appropriate for the situation.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep house centipedes in their place…out of your home, or business.

Behavior, Diet, & Habits

What Do They Eat?

House centipedes eat common household arthropods and insects such as:

  • Ants
  • Bed bugs
  • Cockroaches
  • Silverfish
  • Spiders
  • Termites

Where Do They Live?

Outdoors, these house centipedes are commonly seen in and under rocks, stacks of firewood, leaf litter, and tree bark. Once inside a home they are usually found in damp secluded areas such as:

  • Basements
  • Bathrooms
  • Crawl spaces
  • Garage
  • Kitchens

Life Cycle

House Centipedes complete three phases in their life cycle.

  1. Egg: Females lay 35 or more eggs in damp soil during the spring or summer months.
  2. Larvae: Larvae hatch from the eggs and have four pairs of legs when born.
  3. Adult: More legs develop as they go through six instars or stages.


Female house centipedes may live up to three years.

More Information What Do House Centipedes Eat? Do House Centipedes Bite?

There’s nothing more terrifying than finding one of these long, skittery pests hanging out in your basement. But before you screech at the top of your lungs while reaching for your shoe, you should know that house centipedes are far from being bad guys.

While nobody likes creepy crawlies running around their home, these centipedes are actually on the lookout for even nastier pests, according to Rodale’s Organic Life. House centipedes (Scutigera coleoptrata) tend to lurk in the humid areas of homes looking for prey, including cockroaches, termites, spiders, and silverfish. By far, that list of insects combined is way creepier than any house centipede!

How are they able to kill all these terrible bugs? These creatures might have 30 legs, so they can move fast, but that’s not the only impressive thing about them. Their front two legs double as fangs that are filled with venom to inject their victims with. (Don’t worry though: the fangs aren’t strong enough to prick human skin.)

Plus, their other legs allow the centipedes to attack and trap insects—cowboy style!—with a lassoing method. They’re very hungry insects, too, with a high metabolic rate, so expect them to do the job of clearing those pests out of your home for good in no time.

So the next time you find a centipede in your tub, opt for a jar and take it outside, or better yet, caulk up the cracks and gaps in your home. This simple fix allows them to keep hunting in your walls all night long, and will put your mind (and your vocal chords) at ease.

(h/t Rodale’s Organic Life)

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There’s nothing more terrifying than watching a house centipede shoot across your floor and under your couch. It’s safe to say that most people are positively terrified from those creepy crawling houseguests. House centipedes typically have 15 legs and can travel 1.3 feet-per-second, which explains why catching one of these centipedes in house is nearly impossible.

The typical response to a house centipede probably involves a shoe to squash the bugger before it crawls under another piece of furniture. But like almost every other bug out there, a centipede does have a purpose. And yes, that purpose is actually good.

Watch this short video to learn how to keep centipedes out without killing them

What Do Centipedes Eat?

House centipedes are known for killing pests in your house that are completely unwelcome. They kill roaches, moths, flies, silverfish and termites. Centipedes use the two legs right near their head, which has been modified to carry venom, and their other legs to scoop up the bug. This is called a “lassoing” technique where centipedes jump on their prey and wrap them up with the rest of their legs.

Not only are house centipedes killing the bugs you really don’t want in your house, they also don’t create any type of nests or webs as well. They are considered active hunters and are constantly looking for their next prey. Centipedes aren’t eating your wood and they aren’t carrying a fatal disease. House centipedes just want to go after the bugs.

How to Get Rid of Centipedes in Home

  • If you want to get rid of house centipedes for good, the trick is to get rid of the food centipedes source on.
  • Try to get rid of the household pests that they prey on. You can do this by making sure there isn’t extra moisture in your walls by using a dehumidifier or installing a fan in the bathroom.
  • Seal off any cracks entering the house so pests don’t have places to lay eggs.
  • Make sure to clear your house of any debris that is causing unnecessary moisture to leak into your walls.

How to Prevent Centipedes From Coming Back

Once you’ve made these switches to get rid of a centipede in house, implement these 26 tips for controlling pests in and around your home so you don’t have to come across one of those scary looking house centipedes ever again.

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