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Do Centipedes Bite

Answering The Question: Do Centipedes Bite?

Do centipedes bite?  Well, some can however, they rarely pose more of a threat than their unsightly appearance.  Typically, centipedes live in damp areas outdoors such as under stones, leaves, boards, mulch, tree bark or around outdoor plantings. Once centipedes start making a home for themselves around the foundation of your house, they will often wander inside and then you can find them anywhere in your home.

Centipedes are usually elongated, flattened, brownish insects that have a large number of body segments.  Each segment has its own pair of legs and the insect’s length can range anywhere from one to six inches.  The easiest way to decide if the insect that you are seeing is a centipede is by the way that they are almost always running very fast like they have somewhere very important to be.

Since centipedes eat spiders, arthropods and insects, they are actually beneficial to have around.  Even though they do not cause any damage to household furnishings or food supplies, most people label them as a nuisance when they find them in their home.

So, Do Centipedes Bite?

Many people assume that because their appearance is frightening that they must be ferocious and inflict a great deal of pain.  Truthfully, a centipede will usually only bite if it is really scared or injured and as scary as they are, their bites are fairly mild.

The bite from a centipede does not actually come from their mouth parts or jaws but rather from the very front legs that are modified in such a way that they look like a jaw.  These front legs contain venom glands but bites are rarely considered toxic or serious.  At most, you may experience mild  pain and localized swelling but you should still apply antiseptic to the wound and if severe pain or excessive swelling appears, you should seek medical attention.


If you have found out the hard way, the answer to the, “Do centipedes bite?” question, you need to know how to treat it.

  • First, you need to remain calm.  The bite may hurt but it is treatable.
  • Wash the bite area with warm soapy water.
  • If you have pain present, apply a hot compress however, if you have swelling an ice pack is a better option.
  • Take ibuprofen or an acetaminophen to counter the pain.
  • Treat the itching with hydrocortisone cream.  If you don’t have any of this, you can also dissolve a Benadryl in a drop of water to form a paste and apply this to the bite.
  • Closely monitor the bite area for infection.  If anything looks suspicious, be sure to go see a doctor.

Getting Rid Of Centipedes

You may not necessarily want to get rid of centipedes.  If they are in your home, keep in mind that they do prey on spiders, silverfish, termites, roaches and bedbugs so you may have a much bigger bug problem beyond the centipedes.  They will generally only stay where there is adequate food.

  • Eliminate Dampness – Keeping your house dry is the easiest way to get rid of centipedes or prevent new ones from coming.  These insects require a damp environment to survive.  Run air conditioners and dehumidifiers to take moisture out of your home.
  • Seal Cracks – Take away their entrance points to your home by sealing any cracks in concrete walls, foundation and around windows and doors.  You should also fill any gaps where wires and pipes enter your house.  If you have drains in your basement floor, cover them with window screens.
  • Sticky Tape – Place near entry points like window sills and doorways as well as along baseboards and in corners.  This immobilizes the insects and they eventually die.  This is very inhumane because the insects virtually starve to death so when possible, try to prevent them rather than having to kill them with such a method later.

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