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Since we are approaching Halloween and the season of scaring, I thought it might be appropriate to ask a question that has plagued children for many years: What kind of monsters do you have in your basement…? In case you can’t think of any, I’ve got one in mind to share with you that might give you a real fright this Halloween season.

Meet Scutigera Coleoptrata, more commonly known as the house centipede. I know someone who woke up in bed with one of these on his chest, and he’s never been quite the same since. Russell’s is not responsible for any nightmares that result from reading this blog post.

These little monsters have bodies that are about an inch and a half long. However, their rear legs and their antennae are both longer than their bodies, making them seem much larger than they are. Despite their name (which means “hundred-legs”), house centipedes only have 30 legs, but those long limbs can help them reach speeds that are positively alarming.

In case their appearance isn’t enough to send a shiver up your spine, you should also know that all centipedes (including this common species) have jaws that pack a poisonous bite. In this way, they are similar to spiders. They all hunt full-time for food, so they need venom to immobilize prey. But, venomous and dangerous are not the same thing. Just like most spiders, house centipedes can deliver a bite that may swell a little and be painful, but they don’t cause lasting harm to humans. In most cases, the bite is no worse than a bee sting.

Keep an eye out for these monsters in the coolest, dampest parts of your house, including basements, utility rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms (they have been known to come out of bathtub drains—yuck!). If you find house centipedes inside, try moving leaf litter and your wood pile away from the house. Centipedes are hunters, and dying or dead plants provide great harborage for all of the little critters they like to eat. You should also keep in mind that if they think your home is comfortable and inviting, it’s likely because there are plenty of other bugs inside that they can eat. If you get rid of their food source, you’ll probably get rid of them. If you need a first-rate monster hunter, for more information click here.

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