Should We Let Centipedes Live in Our Homes?

Centipedes are often at the forefront of people’s bug-related phobias, next to spiders. However, the common house centipede can prove to be beneficial to keep inside one’s home, and this article will address the question of whether or not we should allow this to happen.

House centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata). Photo by Bruce Marlin (CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

First of all, some context on centipedes. Centipedes are not insects, but myriapods. They are segmented, long and have several sets of legs, two sprouting from each segment. In fact, their name originates from this fact, the word ‘centipede’ translating to ‘hundred foot’ in Latin, not to be confused with the millipede, whose name means ‘thousand foot’, though both names are hyperbolic, though some species of centipedes really do have over a hundred feet! If any of our readers want more information on the differences between centipedes and millipedes, we wrote an article about it! Furthermore, centipedes are predators, and specifically insectivores, meaning they prey on other insects, using the venom they can secrete through their forcipules (a pair of stingers near their heads) to paralyze their prey. Naturally, the house centipede is so small that humans and animals have nothing to fear from these critters; a sting from one of these critters will at most irritate the skin a little bit.

Secondly, you might be asking yourself, ‘why would I even consider keeping a centipede around the house?’ Well, you might do this for the simple reason that they kill the other bugs you might find in your home. People will give you the same response about spiders, but where centipedes differ from spiders is where they are superior. Because unlike spiders, centipedes do not leave any nests or webbing behind, and thus their sheer presence is really the only thing that could be considered somewhat invasive, depending on one’s opinions of centipedes. Centipedes will persistently hunt and kill termites, silverfish, moths, flies and best of all, cockroaches. Centipedes are generally known for being hard to catch, given their 1.3 feet-per-second running speed, but cockroaches are infamous for their inability to die, let alone be caught in the first place. Lo and behold, a house centipede will do the job for you! In addition to this, centipedes are not pests and will not chew on anything else in the home, nor do they carry any pathogens, disease or parasites.

Thirdly, it is only fair if we also consider some of the reasons you might not want to keep a centipede around the home. Obviously, it is feasible, and completely understandable, that everyone does not enjoy the aesthetic appeal of the centipede. For some, the ‘too many legs’-factor creeps them out, and having one of these critters darting around the house is a recipe for one too many dropped plates. Some might also consider having bugs roaming the home as a sign of uncleanliness, which is also fair enough. Likewise, if one tends to have guests over, it’s probably better to avoid any more dropped plates.

All things considered, we hope that this brief exercise on why centipedes can be worth keeping around the house has at least inspired our readers not to kill them at first glance. They are clearly very beneficial and would not deserve a merciless end. After all, they truly do make the perfect, accidental pet.

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Should We Let Centipedes Live in Our Homes?
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Should We Let Centipedes Live in Our Homes?
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Centipedes are often at the forefront of people's bug-related phobias, next to spiders. However, the common house centipede can prove to be beneficial to keep inside one's home, and this article will address the question of whether or not we should allow this to happen.
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