You may find centipedes lurking in and around your home, in nooks and crannies like shoes, clothes and shelves. Before they get to you and leave a nasty bite, here are some tips on how you can get rid of centipedes from your home.
This article was translated from 10 cara menghalau lipan dari rumah anda hari ini juga! by Aiman A. Rahim.
Mention the word centipede, your head goes into an overdrive of a venomous worm-like creature crawling on your skin. The thought of it is enough to give you nightmares. What’s worse, their venomous bite can be fatal to babies, children or those with allergies. Worry not, let us shed some lights on this household pest and ways to get rid of them for good.
Types of centipedes
They say to know someone is to love them. So, let’s get to know some of the commonly found centipedes in Malaysian homes.
Malaysian cherry-red centipede
Commonly known as lipan bara, this one is notorious for its bite for it may inflict excruciating pain. As the name suggests, it has a red body and can grow up to 30 cm.
It looks like the Malaysian cherry-red centipede, but this one has a black body, making it harder to spot – especially at night.
Fun facts about centipedes
- Other than being venomous, centipedes are typically associated with mystical beliefs. The centipede pearls are said to contain mystical power.
*The information is based on common local beliefs. We cannot guarantee the validity of the above statement.
- Although centipedes carry venom, they’re not harmful to humans. To protect themselves, centipedes secrete venoms from their venom glands connected to the first pair of forcipules to claw and inject venom into its victim.
- Common house centipedes live for more than a year, while other species can live for 5-6 years.
- Centipede literally means “100 legs,” but this pest has anywhere from 15 to 177 pairs of long legs, depending on the species. The common house centipedes have only 15 pairs of legs and can travel 1.3 feet-per-second.
- A centipede ranges from 0.16 to 12 inches long, with most species measuring between 0.4 to 4 inches long.
- Don’t mistake centipedes with another kind of arthropods. The wood-eating centipedes are millipedes. Here’s how to tell the difference: centipedes have one pair of legs on every body segment while millipedes have two pairs of legs per segment. Centipede legs are also typically longer than those of a millipede.
- The largest centipede in the world is Scolopendra gigantea. They can be found in the tropical area of the United States and Trinidad and can reach a length of 8 inches long.
- Centipedes love damp, wet and dark areas. Hence, the numbers of centipede bite cases are likely to go up during the rainy season.
- Another favourite hiding spot of theirs? A pile of wet clothes. In fact, the writer recently encountered one – a Malaysian cherry-red centipede found inside a pile of wet clothes in her hometown. As the house is surrounded by paddy fields with dead leaves and tree logs, it is a perfect habitat for centipedes. One way to counter this is to clean and maintain the house regularly.
- Ever heard of the saying ‘sleeping with the enemy’? Centipedes can also be found underneath your blanket. As they are nocturnal in nature, most centipedes are active at night and love playing hide and seek underneath your blanket. If you ever see one at home, be sure to check and clean your bedroom before going to bed.
- Cluttered areas outside your home can be a place for centipedes to hide and breed.
How to treat centipede bites?
- Similar to snake bites or bee stings, centipede bites will also leave two tiny puncture marks and cause redness on the skin.
- Kill the centipede right away if you get bitten. This is because centipedes may attack and bite several times when threatened.
- Wash the bite wounds with antibacterial soap and rinse.
- Centipede venom is made of a type of protein that can be unbound by soaking the wound in hot water (35˚C – 45˚C) (proteins can be damaged by temperatures above their optimum working temperature)
- For some people, it may cause intense pain and a doctor should be consulted for further medical treatments.
- If you are allergic to insect venom, consult your doctor or head to the clinic immediately as it may cause anaphylaxis which could be fatal.
*Any medical and health treatment information on this website is not to substitute the professional care, consultations, diagnosis or treatments by the doctors or medical experts. Consult your doctor or medical experts about your health condition.
How to get rid of centipedes at home?
Now that we know the basics about centipedes, let’s find out how you can get rid of them. Keep reading!
1. Seal any holes, gaps and cracks
Centipedes can enter our home through small gaps in between walls. Check and fix any holes, gaps and cracks on the walls, doors and every corner of the house to prevent outdoor centipedes or other pests from getting in.
This will help reduce the risk of having centipedes crawling inside and into our home.
2. Eliminate the food source
Centipedes are carnivorous and prey on small insects such as cockroaches, ants and termites. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Aside from getting rid of the centipedes, perhaps it’s best that we first eliminate the food source.
How, might you ask? Here are some articles on how to get rid of common household pests.
Read more: How to get rid of cockroaches in 5 steps
3. Keep the inside and the outside of your house clean
Always make sure your house is clean, both interior and exterior. For landed houses, be sure to clear all the piles of dead leaves and tree barks around the house. Remember, centipedes love dark and damp areas.
Don’t forget to check the drains for any blockage. If left unattended, this area could also attract centipedes.
For those living in apartments, do not for one second think that you are free from centipede infestation. They can still crawl into your home and live in damp areas such as bathrooms, septic tanks, wall cracks, floor mats as well as shoes. Maintain and clean your house regularly before these uninvited guests start moving in with you!
4. Sprinkle salt
Aside from cooking, salt is a great natural remedy to ward off centipedes. Sprinkle some salt around areas with moisture or wall cracks to deter them from entering your home.
If you have pets, you may sprinkle some salt around their water containers. But make sure your pets don’t consume the salt!
5. Repel with pandan leaves
For a more natural approach, you can use pandan leaves to combat centipedes. Pandan leaves may smell amazing to humans, but not to centipedes. The scent that oozes out of pandan leaves is enough to scare centipedes and other pests away.
Slice some pandan leaves and put them into clean containers. Place these containers in infested areas.
6. Scare them off with citronella
Citronella (or commonly known as lemongrass) can also be used as a natural repellent. It is a well-known alternative to chase pests away.
Like pandan leaves, Citronella also produces scents that make pests uneasy. Place some leaves in areas where there might be centipedes to prevent them from entering and settling in your home. Alternatively, you can get Citronella spray products off the shelves at any shops or supermarkets.
7. Prevent them from entering with essential oil
In Malaysia, essential oil is often used as aromatherapy, but did you know that it can also be used to fend off centipedes.
Centipedes have a pair of antennae that makes them really sensitive towards smell and will stay away from areas with a strong scent. A few drops of essential oil around the windows, doors or any entryways will do.
This will work as invisible barriers to help prevent centipedes or other pests from entering your home.
Read more: How to get rid of fleas
8. Place mothballs around the house
For those who fancy a more modern method to prevent centipedes, one of the things you can try is mothballs. Mothballs, or naphthalene balls, produce naphthalene gas that is poisonous to centipedes.
Place some mothballs around the areas of infestation. This will reduce the number of centipedes in your home.
9. Scatter diatomaceous earth powder
Next on the list is diatomaceous earth powder. Scatter the powder outside your home to prevent centipedes from entering.
10. Pesticide sprays
And then there are the specialised pesticide sprays for centipedes. While the product is effective, you must take extra precautions when handling them and choose one that is not only effective, but also safe for your health and that of your family.
Always remember to store it someplace safe and not easily accessible by children to prevent any unfortunate incidents.
However, if the situation persists and requires a more drastic measure, consider hiring professional pest management or pest control services. We certainly hope you don’t have to go down that road and that the problem can still be solved by means of early prevention with the tips we just shared. Good luck!