Physical Characteristics

Scutigera coleoptrata, the common house centipede, has 15 pairs of legs and is 1 to 1 1/2 inch long, with a grayish-yellow body with three dark stripes running the length of its back. Its antennae and the trailing pair of legs are longer than its body length. Other centipedes are larger, such as Scolopendra polymorpha, the common desert centipede, which can be found in many parts of California. S. polymorpha adults, also known as Sonora Desert centipedes and tiger centipedes, can range from 4 to 7 inches in length, with one dark brown or black stripe per tan- or orange-colored body segment and a bright red or orange head. Antennae and trailing legs are much shorter.



Centipedes are outdoor creatures, so when they turn up inside your home, they’ve most likely wandered there by accident. Usually, you’ll find them in moist areas – loose bark, rotting logs, garden mulch, piles of leaves and lawn clippings, where they can dine on spiders, flies, random insects or, if the centipede is large enough, small rodents like mice. Inside your home, those moist places are where you’ll find them, too – damp basements, closets, bathrooms and in potted plants. Centipedes have poison jaws and will inflict venomous bites; some of the larger species, like S. polymorpha and other Scolopendra centipedes, can deliver a painful bite and should handled with care.


Reduce damp areas and harborages outside, and clean up areas where the centipede might thrive – in accumulated leaves, lawn clippings, logs, stones and flower or plant beds, along with inside structures, where unfinished basements and other out-of-the-way crawl spaces can be attractive to these many-legged creatures. Also, reducing the population of smaller insects and spiders, a big part of the centipede’s diet, help keep the population down. Inside, vacuuming can remove centipedes. Your Clark technician will have the latest insight on what treatment options are available and appropriate.

Latin name: Scutigera coleoptrata, Scolopendra polymorpha, et al. from the class Chilopoda