Estimated reading time: 4 minute(s)

I had previously never used a desktop email client for managing my myriad personal and work email addresses. In the spirit of trying new things with my new computer, I installed Sylpheed as my email client. Now, I have always been less than diligent about cleaning my inboxes, but with my primary personal email now on my desktop, I set about the difficult task of sorting through my messages, sending about 730 to the message graveyard. In so doing, I came across a link that my mom had sent well over a year ago, “Here’s Why You Should Never Kill a House Centipede.” Here at The New Leaf Journal, we are not averse to covering bug-related issues, so without further ado – let us examine why you should never kill a house centipede.

Picture of a centipede from the Century Dictionary.
Image of a centipede from The Century Dictionary. To be clear, this is not a house centipede. I decided not to spring a close-up picture of a house centipede on unsuspecting visitors. Enjoy this generic centipede from a classic dictionary instead. If you want a close up of a house centipede, see the original article above.

Prior House Centipede Experience

Fortunately, I do not see too many unwanted bugs around here. On occasion, maybe a couple times a year, I see a house centipede. Sometimes I may see the house centipede standing ominously on a wall, other times I may find one scurrying across the ground – the article informs us that the little critter moves 1.3 feet-per-second. That is not disconcerting at all.

Since I do not get too many house centipedes, I never thought much about them, other than the obvious. They were generic unwanted house guests, far more benign than an even rarer roach or fly, but unwanted, and mildly disconcerting, nevertheless.

Why Should We Never Kill House Centipedes?

According to the Reader’s Digest article reprinted by MSN, “House centipedes are known for killing pests in your house that are completely unwelcome.” Intriguing, but what pests do they kill? The article tells us that they hunt “roaches, moths, flies, silverfish, and termites.” Since I had already rated roaches and flies as being more unwelcome than house centipedes, I must concede that the house centipede comes with some intriguing functionality. Moths never much bothered me, except when they ate some of my sweater vests, but roaches and flies are most unwelcome. Dare I ask how the house centipede achieves its unexpected utility? “Centipedes use the two legs right near their head, which has been modified to carry venom, and their other legs to scoop up the bug.” I should not have dared.

Notwithstanding the general unpleasantness, the article assures us that house centipedes are friendly guests because they are only concerned with eating more unwelcome guests. Notably, “they … don’t create any types of nests or webs…” House centipedes only visit when they have reason to, and leave when they have eaten that reason. While that is good to know, might that mean that the presence of house centipedes is, in and of itself, a foreboding sign? Unsurprisingly, the article recommends getting rid of other unwelcome bug guests in order to keep the centipedes away.

After reading the article, I just ignored the one or two house centipedes I saw afterwards. After all, they were only coming for a brief visit, not to stay.

Centipede vs Roach, Alien vs Predator the Sequel

Last spring, probably around when we started The New Leaf Journal, I saw a most unwanted guest in my kitchen – a rather large roach. Now roaches and water bugs are even rarer here than the house centipedes – that was the first I had seen since a quite graphic water bug more than a year earlier. As I took in the surroundings to chart my next course of action while trying to remember where the insecticide was, I saw that the roach was not the only house guest we had. About a foot away from the roach on the floor was a house centipede, clinging to the wall, watching its would-be prey. The roach seemed unaware as the house centipede planned its assault. Now, because of that useful article published by MSN, I understood that the house centipede was on my side in its objectives – an ally of convenience. While it was nice to know that I had an ally, I did feel like I was in the middle of some sort of real-life alien vs predator nonsense. That thought made the situation far less palatable.

Knowing that the hungry centipede was waiting for its chance to rid my apartment of the roach, did I allow it to do its job? Absolutely not. There was no way I was going to sleep knowing that large roach could be running free. Furthermore, the roach was quite a bit larger than the centipede. How could I be sure that the centipede would prevail in the unpleasantness that would have followed had I not intervened? I took care of the roach myself and never saw the house centipede again. Peace had returned to my home – the heroic centipede moved on to other pastures.

Applying House Centipede Lessons

But I digress. I shared this article and story so that you too may know that house centipedes come in peace to you, and in violence to other bugs. While they may not be the most aesthetic house guests, they seem to serve a valuable purpose – keeping even more unaesthetic unwanted house guests that also carry dangerous germs out of your home. Thus, instead of killing the next house centipede that visits – if you are even able to corner it at all, that is – thank it for its service, and hope fervently that it soon finds that it has no reason to be in your home at all.