The Scolopendre, a sometimes dangerous centipede


The centipede is a centipede-like animal that comes from the arthropod category, not insects. Relatively repulsive, it lives mainly in hot and humid places and prefers the outdoors where it hunts its prey after dark. Nevertheless, it happens to enter the houses to find temporary shelter there. While generally safe, it can bite when it feels threatened and cause an allergic reaction due to its poison glands. Find out all there is to know about this amazing animal.

Who is centipede?

The centipede is an arthropod which is related to centipedes and woodlice; she comes from the same family and lives in the same conditions. If it is rather repulsive in appearance and perceived as a pest, it often invites itself into homes and remains mostly harmless. Nevertheless, it is advisable to remain vigilant, because it can prove to be dangerous in certain cases.

The centipede has a relatively flat body made up of many small segments, each with a single pair of legs, unlike the centipede which has two per segment. Also, her legs are longer, which is why she progresses faster, sometimes even extremely quickly when she needs to hide. It is also very quick to catch and devour its prey. It can have more than 50 pairs of legs and measure up to 10 cm in metropolitan France, but it reaches 20 to 30 cm in tropical countries.

The centipede may not be appreciated, but it is effective in ridding your home of a whole bunch of other nasty pests or insects. Indeed, it indiscriminately eats spiders, ants, cockroaches, bedbugs, carpet beetles and silverfish. It mainly hunts at night, mainly outdoors. Less difficult than the centipede, it invites and settles easily in houses, although the air is drier there.

What dangers does centipede represent?

The centipede has venom glands located just below its jaws. Generally, if it stings a human, the wound is superficial because our skin is too thick for it. However, some reactive people may experience pain comparable to that of a bee sting. If the symptoms go away within hours, she can also leave you with red patches and pimples, or even edema, especially when she sneaks into bed. Indeed, the centipede can decide to bite as soon as it considers itself in danger, because it is naturally fearful.

In the event of a bite, it is recommended to wash the area with plenty of water and a little soap. Then apply a local antiseptic like chlorhexidine. If the pain is strong and / or persistent, take paracetamol 1000 mg (maximum 4 per day, every 6 hours: beware, the maximum recommended dose of paracetamol is 4 g per day in adults). If the pain persists after 24 hours or if the wound becomes worrying, consult the doctor immediately.

In animals, it does not present a specific danger for dogs and cats, even if vigilance remains essential.

The centipede unfortunately tends to seek out the wettest and hottest places in your home. It is for this reason that it is often installed in the bathroom, the toilets as well as the bedrooms. Be careful, as she likes to crawl into beds, which are warm and quiet during the day, and isn’t necessarily bothered by your presence at night if you don’t move much during your sleep. However, centipede tolerates the driest rooms very well, unlike centipedes and can therefore be seen almost everywhere in your home.

How to get rid of centipedes?

To overcome the centipedes present in your home, it is recommended to start by acting outside your home. Indeed, if nothing attracts them to its surroundings, they are little tempted to enter it.

External actions

To avoid attracting centipedes on your land and around your house, here are the tips to follow:

  • Avoid all sources of water and humidity around your home. Be careful with the natural unevenness of the ground which can form small wet basins.
  • Avoid leaving piles of dead leaves in the immediate vicinity of the house. Centipedes are attracted to decaying vegetation and the warm humidity that forms there. If you need them to shelter other insects or to protect your plants from freezing, keep them as far away from the house as possible.
  • Do the same with the boards, bark, mulch, pieces of wood or various objects that can shelter them.
  • Regularly clean and prune the plants around your house and pick up the dead leaves that accumulate on its surroundings in the fall and winter. This will avoid shelters for centipedes and allow air to circulate around the house.
  • Do not leave any cracks unplugged. Remember to plug them before the fall so that centipedes do not come to lodge there.

Internal actions

If despite everything the centipedes have invaded your house, here are our tips for chasing them:

  • If some rooms in your house are very humid, install a dehumidifier there to remove centipedes. While they tolerate rooms with drier air, they will be less tempted to stay in your home as they will eventually become dehydrated.
  • Beware of pesticides and chemical repellents! Read the labels carefully to make sure the product is not harmful to your health, which unfortunately is often the case. If you do not see any other solution, opt for a product for domestic use (less harmful). Also, be aware that if you keep a healthy and dry interior, the centipedes will eventually go away on their own in a few days.
  • Diatomaceous earth is an active ingredient that helps fight centipedes in a natural and more ecological way. Apply in cracks, crevices and along areas where centipedes pass, especially as a prevention. When these pass over, they will scratch their shell and eventually become dehydrated and flee or die.
  • At home, avoid rummaging blindly in your cupboards and bookcases. Shake the linens to avoid any risk of bite. In the evening, before going to bed, check that no centipede has slipped between your sheets.
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