Centipede Bite

Centipede Bite Symptoms And Treatment

Although there are not any reports of this insect actually killing a human being, individuals with allergies, especially children may experience severe symptoms from a centipede bite.  Most of these insects do not cause more than swelling or intense pain but the pain can last for several days and also be accompanied by numbness, discoloration and necrosis.

Some centipedes are incapable of biting since their mouths are too small to even penetrate human skin however, other species can grow to be over a foot long.  It is very important to always grasp the insect directly behind the head because their bodies are so flexible that you could easily end up with a centipede bite if you handle it anywhere else.

Centipedes have pincer-like maxillipeds that are also referred to as poison claws.  These pincers are found adjacent to their head and they use them to bite predators as well as prey and some species have the ability to release a toxic venom.  Centipedes also employ camouflage and can even release appendages that their predators have grasped hold of to flee to safety.


Typically, individuals that suffer from a centipede bite are often gardeners.  The sting from the bite is comparable to a bee sting so it isn't the worse pain the world but it hurts enough that you aren't likely to forget it.

Small puncture wounds are often visible from the bite along with swelling of the surrounding tissue.  Other symptoms include palpitations, headache, vomiting, nausea, anxiety and swollen lymph nodes.

The sting that is administered from a centipede bite is usually harmless however, the longer the specimen is, the higher the pain level will be.  Most bites are able to be treated at home by cleaning the area with soap and water and then applying a cool compress to help with the pain.  Symptoms should be monitored and if pain worsens over a 12 hour period, emergency care should be received immediately.

Centipede Infestation

Just because you are not a gardener does not mean that you cannot be subjected to a centipede bite.  They are beneficial since they eat cockroaches as well as other household pests.  However, while one is not a cause for concern, an infestation is definitely a nuisance.

Since centipedes prefer to live in wet habitats, homes that harbor excess moisture are most vulnerable to these pests.  These insects are much less likely to inhabit basements that are dry and properly ventilated so a dehumidifier can be quite useful.


Crevices and cracks tend to encourage infestations so homeowners should inspect the structure of their homes often and be sure that water drains in a direction away from the house.  Additionally, mulch, compost piles, rocks, rotting wood, leaf litter and bricks should be kept two to three feet from the home's foundation.  While residual insecticides can be used around the perimeter of a home, if an infestation is detected, a local pest control expert should be hired to ensure that no one in the home endures a centipede bite.

Centipedes In The United States

Centipedes are versatile insects that are native to diverse North American environments including harsh deserts and moist forests.  Species that are found in the United States are the largest ones in the world.  The massive scolopendra hero is found in arid wastelands under logs and rocks in northern parts of Mexico and across the United States.  This centipede family has three distinct subspecies, being:

  1. Arizona Centipede – This black-headed centipede has a tan body with bright orange antennae.
  1. Blue-tailed Centipede – These insects have a yellow body with purple or blue at the tip of the tail.
  1. Redheaded Centipede – This species is brown or tan in color with a bright red head and yellow legs.

Additionally, the house centipede is one of the most common varieties found across the United States.  They differ in appearance because their bodies are more rounded and their legs are thin and long.