Several centipede species have been documented as inhabiting southern California, and nearly all of these species are capable of inflicting painful bites to humans. Despite their painful bites, most centipede species in the region are not considered habitual home invaders. That being said, it is not uncommon for pest control professionals to receive calls from residents who find centipedes longer than 6 inches within their home. In many cases, houseplants lure centipedes indoors, as houseplants attract insect prey and are located within high-moisture areas of a home that are hospitable to the creatures.

The tiger centipede is often encountered in arid environments beneath rocks and plant debris in southern California, and they have been found in homes in Los Angeles and other urban and residential areas of the state, but this species prefers outdoor habitats. These centipedes often exceed 7 inches in length and they can inflict an extremely painful, but harmless bite to humans.

The stone centipede dwells naturally within desert regions below rocks, much like the tiger centipede. Also like the tiger centipede, the stone centipede grows in excess of six inches by the time they reach adulthood. While they prefer outdoor habitats they have been found numerous times within homes and buildings in urban and residential areas of Los Angeles.

The often sighted house centipede is the only centipede species in California that is commonly found within homes. These centipedes can live out their entire life-cycle indoors, and while they are capable of inflicting venomous bites, such bite cases are virtually unheard of, and are considered harmless by experts. The house centipede, though unpleasant to look at, preys on insect pests that inhabit indoor areas.

The most feared centipede species in southern California is commonly referred to as the “giant desert centipede,” or the “giant redheaded centipede.” Fearing these centipedes is both understandable and wise, as they are easily the most dangerous of all centipede species in the United States. This species grows to be around 8 inches and length and they are categorized as medically significant due to the highly toxic venom that they transmit into a human’s bloodstream. The giant desert centipede has never been documented as causing a human fatality, but their bites have caused tissue necrosis, and systemic symptoms, such as headaches and nausea. A few case reports describe this species’ bite as causing kidney failure and heart attacks, and they frequently wander into homes in southern California.

Have you ever sustained a centipede bite?