If You See This Scary Bug in Your Home, Don't Kill It, Experts Warn

Resisting the instinct to stomp on this one pest can have some surprising benefits.

There's almost nothing worse than getting surprised by an unexpected pest or insect in your house. But even though your first instinct may be to squash any creepy crawlers on sight, there's one type of seemingly frightening home invader that you might actually want to keep around. Read on to see which bug experts say you should never kill if you see one in your home.

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Resist the urge to kill any house centipedes you find in your home or garden.

A house centipede sitting near a drain

In terms of how creepy certain insects look, it can be challenging to think of one less frightening than a centipede. But even though these bugs might not be fun to come across during a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night, they're doing your home more favors than you may realize.

"Homeowners shouldn't get rid of centipedes around their home because they kill other pests," Richard Estrada, owner of ATCO Pest Control, says. "House centipedes prey on other insects like spiders, roaches, and moths that may be harmful to you or your loved ones, or at least more of an invasive pest than centipedes are."

Centipedes don't carry any infectious disease and don't create any nests or webs for you to clean up.

A centipede on a branch

Usually, the first sign of unwanted insects in your home can signify a serious structural problem or potential health threat. But unlike other rodents and bugs, centipedes tend to solve more problems than they create for their human cohabitants.

"They don't carry any harmful diseases and don't eat away at the wood in your home, so it's really not an issue to let them hang around your home or garden," Estrada says.

And besides acting as a bouncer for other unwanted guests in your home, the multi-legged crawlers also happen to be exceptionally tidy. "Centipedes are a pest that doesn't create any type of nest or web around your home," Donnie Shelton, owner of Triangle Pest Control and Triangle Lawn Care, says. "This means that while they're helping to eliminate other pests that do, they also won't be leaving behind a mess for you to clean up in their wake."

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Getting bitten by a centipede rarely causes any kind of medical issue.

Woman itching mosquito bites

While centipedes are technically venomous, experts say that the bugs rarely find a way to bite humans unless they are handled too roughly. In this way, they're less like certain types of poisonous spiders and more similar to a mild bee sting.

"You don't typically need to be worried about your health when a centipede bites you. Often it's hard for the centipede to puncture your skin … when it bites, it's mostly just painful," Bruno Levesque, a regional manager for Orkin pest control services, told The Weather Network.

You can still get centipedes out of your house by handling other insect infestations you may have.

Man killing cockroach with spray

Even though the bugs are nocturnal and timid by nature, experts say that noticing more centipedes around your house could mean you've got other serious pest problems to consider. By taking care of any potential insect infestations, you'll be removing their food source and forcing them back outside to hunt for their next meal.

Experts also point out that centipedes are typically attracted to areas with plenty of moisture—especially bathrooms and basements. Noticing a few scurrying about could be a sign that you need to check for leaks, run a dehumidifier, or remove rubbish piles. You should also make sure centipedes and the bugs they're hunting aren't finding an easy way into your home by inspecting for cracks or holes in rooms around your house and sealing them up.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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