In some ways, centipedes are fascinating insects who are voracious predators, often venomous, and surprisingly agile. On the other hand, they can be quite creepy and not something anyone wants in their house!
Like most pests, centipedes are attracted to three main categories that will cause them to find their way inside: food, water, and shelter.
Keep reading, and we’ll cover all the reasons that centipedes might be attracted inside and some of your options to prevent centipedes in the future!
1. Leaf Litter Around The House
Centipedes are so small that they don’t take much cover to hide from predators and people. Leaf litter is an ideal place for them to hide and wait for food.
Leaf litter also provides humid microclimates, which are vital for centipedes to remain healthy. Most of the different places that attract centipedes and will be used as shelter by them include extra humidity.
Leaf litter and other partially decomposed plants that are on the ground provide ideal places for centipedes to call home and are used to lay their eggs under.
This will only increase the population in that area, meaning they are more likely to find their way inside in search of food and shelter.
How To Fix It
The easiest way to fix it is by cleaning up any leaf litter around your house. Raking it into controlled piles will limit the amount of space that centipedes can use, and then disposing of it will eliminate a significant habitat for them.
If you rely on plant matter for mulch, getting rid of it is not your only option to discourage centipedes and keep them away from your home. Most common insecticides work exceptionally well on centipedes and can be used to repel them.
A spray such as BugMD’s Essential Oil Concentrate is an excellent option as it is pre-mixed, easy to spray, and plant and pet friendly. Essential oils work well to avoid harsh chemicals and keep centipedes away, and their cottonwood and clove oil blend works well to keep a variety of pests away!
Other conventional sprays will also work and may be necessary if you have a large infestation of centipedes, which is rare. Most centipede populations are not a huge threat of infestation, and while you probably don’t want them in your house, they will control other insect populations.
2. Cracks In The Foundation Or Holes
Centipedes can climb pretty well but typically stick close to the ground, where they blend in and feel safer. This means they may use cracks or holes in the foundation of your house or structure the centipedes are getting into.
Centipedes don’t have any strong desire to be close to people and see them as threats, so they find their way inside, possibly due to cracks and holes in your home’s foundation.
Opportunity is the most likely reason a centipede will find their way into your house, rather than explicitly seeking it out.
These small openings are perfect for centipedes to squeeze into and explore wherever they lead. Getting into basements, garages, and inside through these cracks is easy given the small size of the insects, and even the tiniest opening can be used.
How To Fix It
The most secure solution and the best long-term option is to seal up these cracks and holes. Many products on the market are designed to quickly seal concrete cracks and stop pests from getting inside.
We recommend sealing up these holes will prevent centipedes and other insects from using them and larger problems such as mice and rats.
Sealing up most cracks is a pretty straightforward project taking no more than an afternoon and a bit of elbow grease. Any product designed for this purpose will work well, and your local box stores will have options.
3. Leafy Plants And Shrubs Around The House
Shrubs, long grass, and other leafy plants offer perfect hiding spots for centipedes that they’ll use to stay hidden from predators, including birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
Hiding between the leaves and bark of low-lying plants is a perfect cover for centipedes.
Plants offer plenty of cover for centipedes and other insects that centipedes will prey on. Both cover and an available food source are vital to a centipede’s development.
As it has been reiterated a few times, centipedes will find their way inside if they are nearby anyways. They will unlikely come inside if they do not have a suitable habitat outside your house.
How To Fix It
Thankfully, there are two easy options to fix this problem, and they can be used either individually or in tandem for a more effective solution.
The first option is to trim the plants and shrubs around your house to keep the spaces used for insects to a minimum. This will decrease insect populations and, as a result, reduce the centipede population without a food source.
As a part of this step, I would also look for any pieces of wood or rocks that the centipedes are using as cover and store them off the ground or away from the house. Any object close to the soil can be used as cover for various insects, centipedes included.
General insecticides or deterrents can also be applied in combination with trimming plants. The peppermint oil mentioned earlier is a great option as it is plant and pet safe and uses natural ingredients.
4. Warm, Humid Areas
Inside your home, centipedes are attracted to humid areas first and foremost. On top of that, they are cold-blooded, meaning they cannot generate their own heat and rely on the environment to warm them.
In your home, centipedes will be attracted to warm and humid areas where they can remain hidden from people and have access to food. One example might be underneath the fridge. Another popular area in the home that centipedes are attracted to is the bathroom.
Your local temperatures and humidity will affect the areas of your home and where centipedes might find a good spot, so you’ll have to do some investigating into specific areas in your house where centipedes are hiding.
How To Fix It
While dealing with the warmth of those areas may be difficult given that a fridge generates its own heat, the humidity is easy to deal with.
Using a dehumidifier is easy to prevent centipedes from staying in your home. The high relative humidity is vital to their health, and they get their liquids from the nearby environment.
Proper ventilation and a dehumidifier are two of the most effective ways to prevent centipedes from infesting an area.
Combined with other preventative measures, this will be sure to keep the insects outside rather than inside.
This method is, however, not the best solution in all areas of the country, especially places with high humidity daily.
5. Open Doors And Windows
One of the ways that centipedes might get inside is through open doors and windows, especially windows close to the ground. Both of these openings can provide opportunities for centipedes to sneak in.
Leaving doors open longer than necessary, especially during the summer, provides ample opportunities for centipedes to crawl inside.
Similarly, unscreened windows, open cracks underneath doors, and any other direct opening into your house can be used by centipedes to come inside.
Typically the openings closer to the ground will be the most likely area for them to come in through, but since centipedes can climb, windows are also a possible entry point.
How To Fix It
One way to stop centipedes from coming inside through open windows and doors is to keep them shut when you aren’t using them.
Besides closing doors, you might still have small holes beneath doors and in window screens that centipedes may be able to fit through. Fixing these holes will help keep insect populations down inside.
Draft stoppers like this Heavy Duty Draft Stopper for doors work well to keep those small openings covered and are easy to find and install.
6. Insects In Your Home
Centipedes could be in your house due to other insects they use as a food source.
Centipedes are voracious hunters who feast on smaller insects. They are successful due to their speed and venom that affects insects in your home.
How To Fix It
Traps and insecticides are the best ways to widely target both the prey that centipedes target and the centipedes themselves. Plenty of different options exist for both categories to best suit your needs.
If you plan on using an insecticide to deal with your centipede problem, then a granule or bait-style trap will work the best.
Solid insecticides last a long time; when kept indoors, you can spread them and forget them. The centipedes will digest it over time and no longer be a problem.
Catchmaster sticky-style pest traps are the best way to catch centipedes and other insects and can be placed in ideal areas such as under the fridge and sinks. This trap style works well because it allows you to visually estimate the bug populations and act accordingly.
Crawlspaces are an area that offers warmth and humidity and is a perfect shelter for centipedes. As a result, many centipedes and other insects will find their way down there and then make their way inside.
Most crawlspaces are the perfect place for bugs, and the average homeowner doesn’t want to crawl down there to check often. This limits the ability to see if that’s where the centipedes are coming from and determine the available options for stopping it.
If you are experiencing a large infestation of centipedes, checking your crawlspace may be necessary, or hiring a pest control expert to help deal with the problem is essential!
If you do seem to be having a problem in your home or crawlspace, head on over to our article about scents that centipedes hate, to help keep them away! Using some natural scents like essential oils and other things you may already have in your house, will work like a charm!
How To Fix It
Mose houses with crawlspaces only have one area where you can access it; this should be the only opportunity for insects to go from one place to another. This is something to look out for more if you have crawlspace inside rather than outside-only access.
Two solutions to dealing with insects going in and out through the crawlspace are making sure that you have an insect-proof seal and using insect-repellent scents around that area.
Peppermint, peppers, lavender, and citronella are all powerful scents that will keep most bugs away, including centipedes. Placing cotton balls soaked in any of these scents around the crawlspace door will do a great job keeping bugs from coming up.
8. Cold Weather
Since centipedes are cold-blooded, they need to find shelter during winter, and homes make an ideal environment. Once the weather cools down, centipedes cannot move or do much, so a heated climate allows them to continue hunting and growing.
Other insects will move inside for the winter, continuing to be a food source that centipedes will follow. For the most part, insects will try to find hidden spots underneath objects and inside walls for their protection.
For most people, the beginning of winter and spring are the two most common times of year to see insects in your home. This is because when the weather is getting cold, all the bugs look for shelter, and after winter, all the other ones are hatching and become active after a period of inactivity.
How To Fix It
Keeping centipedes from being attracted to coming indoors when winter rolls around is difficult because you can’t control the weather. Bugs, in general, will be highly motivated to find warmth and shelter and take advantage of any opportunity to get inside.
Besides the tips to keep as many holes plugged and doors closed when the weather rolls around, there isn’t much you can do as a precautionary measure. Treatment of any bugs that manage to get inside will be the next step.
Like the other methods mentioned previously, solid insecticides and stick traps will probably be your best bet for getting rid of any centipedes that have already made their way inside, just make sure to keep them hidden and away from pets!
9. Decomposing Food And Trash
The final common thing attracting centipedes inside is any decomposing food and trash they may be eating and releasing smells they are attracted to.
Centipedes are primarily predatory insects but also scavenge and eat just about anything.
Meats especially will attract centipedes, and any meat that centipedes can smell may be what is drawing them inside. Any other food garbage may attract other insects, which will be a food source for centipedes to follow and eat.
How To Fix It
Taking the trash out often will be the easiest step in fixing this problem that may attract centipedes.
Keeping out any smelly food sources that may attract centipedes is the most straightforward step, and likely doesn’t take any extra resources.
Using a covered trash can will keep centipedes from smelling and finding the trash by keeping those scents inside. This method will work best for those who need to throw away meats and garbage that will attract bugs frequently.
As you can tell, there are many reasons that centipedes may find their way inside and take up residence in your home. Preventing that and treating an established problem is thankfully pretty straightforward.
The primary reason you are finding centipedes in your home is that they are searching for food and shelter. By eliminating any food sources and making the shelter inhospitable to them, you can fix a lot of the problems easily.
Sticky traps, solid insecticides, and plugging up any gaps and holes are the least complicated and most straightforward ways to eliminate and prevent any problems with these pesky insects. They will help reduce any other pests you have in your home.
David J. Shetlar and Jennifer E. Andon. (2015, April 20). Centipedes. Ohio Online. Retrieved September 16, 2022, from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/ENT-50
Hodgson, E. W., Bingham, P., &, Roe, A. H. (n.d.). Centipedes. Utah State University Extension and Utah Plant Pest Diagnostic Laboratory. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1872&context=extension_curall.
House centipede. Missouri Department of Conservation. (n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2022, from https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/house-centipede
Houseman, R. M. (2007). Sowbugs, Pillbugs, Millipedes and Centipedes. Agricultural MU Guide.
Ravnjak B, Kos I. The current knowledge on centipedes (Chilopoda) in Slovenia: faunistic and ecological records from a national database. Zookeys. 2015 Jun 30;(510):223-31. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.510.8672. PMID: 26257545; PMCID: PMC4523775.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
Download My Free E-Book!
Take a look at my guide on Pest Proofing Your Home In Under a Day! I get into the nitty-gritty on the most common types of pests you’ll see on your property including BOTH insects and wildlife, along with the specific signs to look for regarding any pest you have questions about.