Help me get rid of house centipedes.
August 21, 2007 6:43 AM   Subscribe

What causes house centipedes and how can I get rid of them?

I've been seeing a proliferation of house centipedes in my apartment (I had thought they were silverfish but a Google image search proves me wrong). Sometimes gigantic, sometimes tiny (today one in the bed), they turn to dust when crushed but are fast, scary, gross. I see about two a week. I've never had problems with bugs (including cockroaches) before.

I live in NYC, by the way. It's been rainy here recently, but the weather was steadily warm August beforehand. I haven't moved a lot of things around and keep things generally very neat and clean.
posted by annabellee to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It's not necessarily about how clean your place is. I've had them in a couple of different apartments; both the apartments where I had them tended to be pretty damp. Centipedes eat spiders, so if you have spiders in your apartment, that's good incentive for the centipedes to stick around. There is a lot of information online about how to get rid of them. Here is one such article. Good luck!
posted by smich at 6:57 AM on August 21, 2007

We have them too (also in NYC), although it's not as bad this year as it's sometimes been in the past. My understanding is that they're predators of roach nymphs (as well as other bugs) and therefore it makes sense to use something like Combat, on the presumption that if you're seeing centipedes, they may well be feeding on roaches that are living in places you can't see.

That's totally unscientific, but in the past whenever I've seen more than a couple of the nasty creatures in a week's time, I've re-upped on Combat, done as diligent a cleaning job as I can manage, and it seems to have helped. With two small children and a cat we elect not to have the exterminator in the apartment.

(The last time was after I was giving my daughter a bath, and one had been lurking under the bathmat. I didn't see it until I put her in the bath and the writhing, twitching little horror brushed her leg. She hasn't forgiven me yet.)
posted by BT at 6:59 AM on August 21, 2007

Best answer: Diatomaceous Earth takes care of them.

It's completely non toxic and in my experience completely effective. You can pick up at hardware and some grocery stores. I think it comes in boxes but the kind I bought came in a plastic bottle with a nozzle at the end (like a diner ketchup bottle) that makes it easy to spray a puff of it into corners and under appliances.
posted by ChuckLeChuck at 7:07 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The thousand-leggers are scary and gross and twitchy, yes.

Two a week isn't bad. I see a lot of them when the weather changes, particularly with rain -- the recent cool spell is enough to bring 'em out. When it gets hot again at end of the week you probably won't see them until October.

They eat roaches and other hated insects, and so I've made a tentative peace with them to stop scaring the beejezuz out of me.

I don't like spraying a lot of chemical nastiness in my house, but sealing up the cracks around the windows and especially the baseboards goes a long way to keep them from appearing.
posted by desuetude at 7:10 AM on August 21, 2007

Response by poster: I've used Boric Acid prophylactically for cockroaches. It looks like this may have the same effect as Diatomaceous Earth? Although I may never sleep again at the prospect of bunking with "roach nymphs."
posted by annabellee at 7:15 AM on August 21, 2007

I get the odd one. You can catch them using the old jar-and-cardboard method and put them outside. But, like spiders, they're not verminous, and they do act as predators to things that are, so it might be worth manning up and leaving them be.
posted by zadcat at 9:55 AM on August 21, 2007

Best answer: We have several. I named them as a joke with my wife. Spike and Frances don't bother anyone, really. They run around, they eat spiders, they eat other insects, they amuse the cats (who, in turn, seem to eat Spike and Frances now and then, to judge by the number of little stripey legs I find in the basement).

Once my wife got used to seeing them, she stopped getting very freaked out - and she's the first one in the room to squash the average insect or spider on sight. You can get rid of them, sure, but having them around might be keeping some other more noxious pest from multiplying.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:02 AM on August 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm not 100% sure about this, but I've heard house centipedes can bite. All I know is in my old apartment in NY we would always get a ton of them when it was rainy/damp, or in the week after a rainstorm. A few visits from the exterminator got rid of most of them. Yuck and yuck.
posted by np312 at 11:29 AM on August 21, 2007

What causes house centipedes...?

Well you see, the mommy centipede and the daddy centipede love each other very much. So the daddy centipede puts his....

Every place I've been that had them seemed to mostly be infested in the basement. They seemed to like darkness & damp. Smashing them with a rolled-up magazine was the only thing that worked for us.
posted by belladonna at 12:34 PM on August 21, 2007

To answer your question, "What causes house centipedes?": Two centipedes fucking.

What actually brought them to your house? Other delicious bugs.

How can you get rid of them? With a shoe.
posted by tehloki at 1:05 PM on August 21, 2007

Oh. Forgot to preview. Looks like hurf minds durf alike.
posted by tehloki at 2:35 PM on August 21, 2007

They're disgusting, and fast. Here's a trophy specimen from my basement.

I recently saw one scurrying across the floor with a soon-to-be meal in his (its?) mouth. When he saw me he dropped his dinner (he also got smashed).

AFAIK they live in damp environs (like my basement).
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 7:34 PM on August 21, 2007

I live in NYC too, and we also have had a proliferation of these guys recently. Maybe it is the weather.

Seconding the diatomaceous earth suggestion, since the stuff is non-toxic except for bugs.

However, if the centipedes are devouring roach nymphs, then yeah, maybe we should just figure out a way to co-exist.
posted by torticat at 8:24 PM on August 21, 2007

They skitter around our brick hearth all night. They're unsquishable against a brick surface, so I've found that canned-air turned upside-down will freeze them long enough to relocate, usually down the toilet.

Learning what they eat in this thread, perhaps I'll have to reconsider that policy. Damn. They really, really creep me out.
posted by Myself at 10:34 PM on August 21, 2007

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