Are Centipedes Dangerous?

large vietnamese centipede in honolulu

The answer to this question depends somewhat on where you live and what kind of centipede you are talking about. If you live in the continental United States, then centipedes, generally speaking, are not dangerous. However, here in Hawaii, some centipedes can be dangerous. Some would even say very dangerous, especially if they have ever been bitten by a scolopendra centipede. In this article, we will discuss the different types of common centipedes in Hawaii, the problems they pose, a few prevention tips, and what you can do if you need help getting them out of your home.

The three most common types 

The three most common types of centipedes that are found in the Aloha State are lethobius, mecistocephalus and, as mentioned, scolopendra. While you would probably prefer to live without any kind of centipede invading your home, it is the scolopendra centipede that you need to be the most concerned about. 

Lethobius Centipede: This centipede, often called a stone centipede, has a dark red coloring and not as much "armor" as some other types of centipedes. It can have as many as 23 pairs of pale, stubby legs, and can grow to be around 2 inches in length. They prefer to live in the moist soil beneath debris such as leaf piles, mulch or logs, and they and consume small invertebrates including earthworms, small millipedes, and insect larvae. These centipedes are harmless to humans and easy to ignore when they stay outside. However, once they invade a home, they can be quite disturbing to encounter. 

Mecistocephalus Centipede: At around 1.5 inches in length, this centipede is not likely to scare anyone. This is a yellow centipede with a dark red head. They are sometimes confused with a Chinese red head (Scolopendra subspinipes). If bitten by one of these little creatures, you have nothing to worry about. It is not medically important. 

Scolopendra Centipede: This giant of a centipede can grow to be almost 8 inches in length. It goes by many names including Vietnamese centipede, orange-legged centipede, Asian forest centipede, Chinese red-headed centipede, Chinese red head and, simply, giant centipede. If this centipede is brought into contact with the skin, and is able to get a good grip and deliver a full dose of venom, it is extremely painful. Some who have been bitten describe the bite of a scolopendra centipede as the worst pain they have ever felt. And for some who are allergic to its venom, a bite from this creature can cause anaphylactic shock. Even if not allergic, a bite from this centipede species typically causes intense pain and swelling, with redness at the site, which can last for up to 48 hours. Individuals more sensitive to the venom may experience chest pains, headache, heart tremors, and nausea or vomiting.

Tips For Keeping Centipedes Out Of Your Hawaii Home 

  1. Check all door sweeps and screens to make sure they are all present and in good working order.

  2. Examine the outside of your foundation and walls for gaps or cracks and repair any entry points you may find. Be sure to pay attention to areas around objects that pass into the home, such as wires conduit or pipes.

  3. Examine your home for moisture damage. Centipedes and other moisture loving pests are more likely to invade if wood is wet or rotting. Repair damaged areas.

  4. Use window screening to cover basement floor drains.

  5. Try to keep the area around your home as dry as possible, as these creatures are drawn to moisture.

  6. Use fans and/or dehumidifiers to keep the inside of your home as dry as possible.

  7. Keep your home clean and decluttered.

  8. Place sticky traps in the corners of rooms or along floorboards where centipedes often travel. 


If you are dealing with centipedes inside your Hawaii home and you would rather not have to worry about whether or not they are going to be dangerous to have around, reach out to the experts here at Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions. If centipedes are getting in, there is a good chance that other pests, some that are more dangerous than centipedes, are getting in as well. Call or click today for prompt assistance. Life is better without giant scary centipedes lurking in your home.