house centipede

house centipede by Bauerph
house centipede by Bauerph

There may be people who like centipedes…
~ William S. Burroughs
(The Western Lands)

Bugs!! Shudder!!! Yesterday I was sitting on the couch for a few minutes taking a break when one of these creatures, which I think must be a house centipede, ran across the living room, lickety-split, and disappeared under the couch. Needless to say I have not sat in the living room since! And reading up on them has not made me feel any better. Much as I avoid chemicals, I think I’m in the mood to buy some “bug” spray!

I had never seen one of these things until the 1990s when I was coming out of the laundry room in the basement and one confronted me in the hallway. It was a good two inches long and an inch wide! I grabbed what was handy, a can of hair spray (good a getting ink stains out of clothing), and started doing battle with the alien. It actually charged at me after I zapped it once. It finally died after tons of spray and I left the scene, shaken. When the family came home and I told my tale and went to show them the remains of the bug, it had dried and shriveled up to almost nothing, and they seemed a little skeptical of my accounting of the enemy’s size and speed and aggressiveness.

Am I losing my mind?

Sometime during the 2000s I was walking on the treadmill, also in the basement, when one of these monsters raced out from under the treadmill and made a beeline for a big pile of storage boxes. I tried to pretend I had not seen what I had just seen, and to get on with my life.

And now yesterday, my third sighting. Why me??? Why do they not come out to terrorize the rest of the family? First two times in the basement, then this time of the first floor. I’ll be hysterical if I ever see one up here on the second floor!

I have learned that house centipedes are not native here, but have arrived somehow from the Mediterranean region. That would be why I had never encountered one before. The only positive spin I can put on this situation is that apparently they eat spiders and ants and can eat a few of them at a time. Still I don’t like the idea of something so big and so fast lurking around my home. I startle way too easily… I had a LOT of trouble falling asleep last night.

Has anyone else ever dealt with house centipedes???

30 thoughts on “house centipede”

  1. Barbara,

    We have had them in our house for years… No one seems to mind all that much. Yes they are a little creepy when the run across you view in some way or another.

    Bugs have been here longer than any of us, so I try to make space for bugs, and insects if I can!

    1. No one seems to mind them, Jeff???
      Just a little creepy??? 🙂
      You’re more in tune with nature than I am it seems! Since you’ve had house centipedes around a while – do they seem to keep the spider and ant population down?

  2. Barbara – THANKFULLY, I am quite happy to say that I have NOT shared your experience. I’m fairly confident that I would be able to walk on water (no, make that RUN) if the occasion presented itself!

    1. Laurie, I hope you NEVER encounter one of these things, although a run on the water might be an interesting experience! Now I’m wondering if they ever allow themselves be seen by more than one human at a time… Or if they CAN be outrun, they’re so fast!

  3. I am the same way about earwigs which really creep me out. I blame it on the television show Night Gallery. They had an episode about earwigs that makes me shudder even to think about it.

    1. Earwigs creep me out, too – thankfully I’ve never seen “Night Gallery.” But at least a solitary earwig is small enough to pinch in a tissue and flush down the toilet! They’d be frightening en masse, however.

    1. LOL, but they’re way too fast, I don’t think I could catch one without hurting myself in the process! Maybe I could entice a neighborhood kid, though, and dare her to come inside and capture one herself! 🙂

  4. We had something pretty similar-I think that there are centipedes and millipedes, depending on the number of legs, UGH! We were told that they like to live in dead leaves and grass that has built up near the foundation wall of the house. We dug up the grass and put in a deep trench, filled it with rock, and didn’t have any more problems. I think they like the damp basements as well as the dampish cardboard boxes that are on the floor.
    Good luck. I hate bugs, no matter what good they may do-we do not get along well.

    1. We had plenty of garden-variety little centipedes and millipedes in our basement when I was a child, so I’m used to those. Today I’ve learned that millipedes are detritivores and slow moving, while this monster house centipede has 15 pairs of big legs and is a very fast moving carnivore! Yikes!

      It has been wetter than usual outside around here lately, although we don’t have a dampness problem in the basement. I think I’ll take your advice and dig a trench. We already have rocks by the foundation for fire safety, but maybe a trench full of rocks and a little judicious spraying will help. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Hi Barbara,
    I’m like you, when I see a bug of any description I go get a can of spray and hopefully that will be the end of that. I do the same to spiders, I do not like anything creeping around the house, I would have nightmares in my sleep thinking these things was going to be crawling on me in my sleep. 🙂

    1. Ive suffered from spider nightmares for most of my life, following a bad spider bite when I was a toddler. I hope these house centipedes don’t start showing up in my dreams now! I haven’t been to the store yet, but hope to obtain some kind of spray defense soon! 🙂

  6. Okay yes the instant I saw this I freaked out a little. I get them in my family room, a few times a year. Even the cats are a bit scared by them. The music teacher at the school I teach at once found one IN HER BED. Fortunately she moved out of the basement apartment and into a real house. And as to earwigs…I grew up in a 150 year old house, and one day I was pleasantly getting ready to brush my teeth and as I popped the brush into my mouth I realized an earwig was crawling on the back of the brush, and then onto my lip. To this day all my sister has to do is say earwig and I get the heebie jeebies bad!!!

    1. OH NO!!! IN HER BED??? I feel another sleepless night about to begin! Do you spray them when you see them? I have to say that I’m glad I blogged about this incident because now I don’t feel so alone in this freak-out. 🙂

      Meg, your earwig story is just awful! I bet you’ve taken to inspecting your toothbrush very carefully before picking it up!

      1. I usually whack them with my slipper or a flip flop. I know very unzenlike of me. And it was many years before I could brush my teeth without looking first. You are by no means alone!!

  7. Hahaha! This post is so timely for me. I had the exact experience in a hotel bathroom in Belgium last week (I just returned home from vacation). Though I was born in Michigan, I’ve lived in Alaska for 33 years, and we don’t have bugs…only bears…but at least you can see them coming! Can I say this out loud? Awful!!

    1. Awful, indeed!!! I hope the experience in the hotel bathroom didn’t ruin the rest of your vacation!

      When we stayed at Shenandoah National Park we received a welcome pamphlet that told us the resort had a “Integrated Pest Management Team” for us to contact to “take care of the situation” if we had any bugs we couldn’t or wouldn’t deal with. That team would sure come in handy up here now. 🙂

      Don’t you have mosquitoes in Alaska?

  8. It does look creepy. If it’s me I would grab a slipper and snap it but since I’m trying to teach my son not to harm any creatures, including bugs, I may have to lead it out of the house. You did a great job exterminating it. My wife would have acted just as horrified if such a centipede came her way. good post.

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence! Trust me, island traveler, a house centipede moves way too fast to be caught with a slipper and I doubt it would allow itself to be led out of the house!!! I suspect it moves faster than a cheetah…

  9. (Aubrey picks herself off the floor)

    That photo gave me the vapors! If I had seen such a thing, I would be typing this from a padded cell – NO LIE.

    I believe that these horrors like damp spaces, dark corners…I’m not surprised at all at the basement sighting. For more information consult this fascinating (but disgusting) site:

    I don’t approve of guns, but regarding the fighting of insects I would recommend firearms. Lots of them.

    Oh, and I’ve had two bouts of hysterics in my life, and both experiences were caused by inopportune (as in IN MY APARTMENT)bug sightings.

    Good luck!!!

    1. Sorry to knock you off your chair, Aubrey! I went to the website you mentioned and found this advice:

      “This is a House Centipede, easily the most popular query subject submitted to our site, except perhaps general spider questions. … We do not give extermination advice in general, and more specificly, we would never recommend killing a beneficial predator like a harmless House Centipede.”

      Have you only ever had two bugs in your apartment, or is it that only two were particularly disturbing? I get irrational about spiders.

      I’ve taken to sitting in a chair instead of on the couch for now… Thanks for the good luck! 🙂

  10. Urk! That’s made my hair stand on end (well, that’s what it feels like it’s doing, anyway!)

    I’ve never ever seen one of those and don’t ever want to. 🙁 Centipedes here are tiny little orange coloured things that I don’t mind in the least, but this is as creepy and yukky and I’d feel exactly as you do now. Though I probably wouldn’t use chemicals as, if it escaped and a bird ate it, the bird would then die. Can you whack it with a spade or something? (Put a cloth over it first if you can’t stand to look at its body). It’s faster and more humane. Or… I dunno… get someone else to take it a long way away?

    1. Putting a cloth over it before whacking it sounds like a good idea, Val. So far the three times I’ve seen one have been years apart and I’ve been alone in the house when they darted without warning out of nowhere. It’s hard to stay prepared for such events!

      I’m still trying to convince myself that the house centipede is a beneficial predator, like the praying mantis that was in my garden last year. Finding her was startling but not horrifying – was it because she was outside and not running across the room? Who knows? Thanks for the sympathy!

    1. There is a poisonous type??????????????????? I’m not so sure I want to know… Hopefully if there is it lives far away from here, deep in the jungle with other poisonous creatures!

  11. Just found one today in my bathroom. I went to go get the vacuum to suck it up and it is GONE I don’t know where it went but it is gone and I am 100% freaked out.

    1. Sorry, Leslie, I didn’t see your comment until now. They move so fast there is definitely no time to fetch the vacuum cleaner! I’ve grown accustomed to house centipedes in recent years – they pass through the guest room when I’m visiting my daughter in North Carolina. Now I say “hello there” and thank them for keeping the spiders away from me. 🙂

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