Chances are good that if you live anywhere in Southern California, you have run across the lowly house centipede and may have in fact been more than just a little frightened. The house centipede is a long, skinny but that seems to have hundreds of legs sprouting from all over its body. Having all of these legs lets them move out of the way very quickly as they can hide under furniture, scale walls, and practically anywhere in your home.
Do House Centipedes Bite?
This is one of the most common questions about the house centipede or Scutigera coleoptrata, as they almost seem to have no head. The good news is that you can relax as these bugs may look scary, but they are truly not dangerous. If you do happen to be stung, (you would almost have to pick one up for this to happen) you might see a small red bump. Of course, if you are allergic to bug bites, you should seek medical help.
While its name might include the word “centipede” that would lead you to believe it has 100 legs, in reality, it only has 15 pairs. What you see on its head are a pair of antennae along with two long appendages sticking out from its rear end. Most are yellowish-gray in color with stripes that run the length of their bodies and legs.
What about All Those Legs?
Out of the thirty legs that run the length of both sides of its body, one pair up front has been modified to carry a venom. While this venom is deadly to small insects such as termites and silverfish, it is harmless to humans. They use their legs to jump on their prey and then wrap them securely while the venom does its job.
House Centipedes are nocturnal creatures in that they prefer to come out and hunt at night. Their large eyes give them excellent night vision. Even so well-equipped, these bugs prefer to use their antennae to help them navigate and hunt. These antennae can detect smells, vibrations, and many other tactile sensations. They are extremely savvy hunters and are capable of successfully hunting insects that could potentially be dangerous to them such as bees and wasps. In many cases, they will sting their prey and then scurry away and wait for the venom to do its job.
How Do They Get In?
Like most bugs, House Centipedes look for somewhere warm and dark to hide in. They can come into your home through cracks, under doors, and pretty much any gap in your home. While one or two are typically not a problem, (in fact they can help keep the population of other insects at bay) if your home becomes infested with them, this can be an indication that you have another bug infestation that needs to be dealt with. The best way to deal with House Centipedes and any other type of insect infestation is to contact a local professional pest control service.