Finding centipedes in your indoor plants can be alarming, especially when you’re the squeamish type who shudders at the mere sight of their slithery little bodies and legs. However, these creepy crawlers pose practically no threat to your plants. People want to get rid of them because they’re annoying, unsettling, and honestly, a bit disgusting, especially when you find them swarming around your plants.
Here are 7 tips on how to get rid of centipedes infesting indoor plants:
- Eliminate pests from your indoor plants.
- Keep the humidity down.
- Soak your plants in soapy water.
- Get rid of debris in your potted plants.
- Pluck them out.
- Use organic insecticides.
- Utilize sticky traps.
We will talk about safe and proven effective ways to get rid of centipedes infesting your indoor plants. We will also discuss why centipedes aren’t considered pests and what benefits they offer to your indoor or outdoor garden. Let’s get started!
1. Eliminate Pests From Your Indoor Plants
Centipedes are generally carnivorous, and they’re invading your indoor plants because of the abundance of food in them – pests. Centipedes are beneficial to your plants because they feed on insects and pests that ravage their leaves, stems, and sap.
Centipedes are generally safe around plants, animals, and humans. Unless you are allergic to them, they pose no threats to your health and well-being. They are not detrimental to your plants’ wellness either. In fact, the only reason they are in your potted plants is the nutrient-rich environment in the soil and the presence of prey.
So if you spot several centipedes in your potted houseplants, it is most likely because there are a lot of insects available for them to feast on. They are predators and can help you get rid of pests that are damaging your plants. Here are some of the pests they love dining on:
- Scale insects
You can get rid of centipedes infesting your indoor plants by eliminating their prey. There are many ways to do so but go for those methods that will not put your plants’ wellness at risk. Here are some ways you can get rid of pests safely:
- Garlic spray: A simple mixture of crushed garlic and water effectively kills most pests on contact.
- Copper traps: These are effective for soft-bodied pests like snails and slugs. Copper sends an electric shot through their bodies that sends them scurrying away or effectively kills them.
- Orange peels: The smell of citrus fruits is an excellent pest repellent. Scatter these around your plants to drive away pesky insects.
2. Keep the Humidity Down
Many plants flourish in high humidity, but this also creates the perfect habitat for certain insects to thrive, including centipedes. These little crawlers might be attracted to your home because of the abundance of prey and the elevated humidity level.
Some indoor plants require higher than average humidity, so you might inadvertently be inviting centipedes into your home. Pay special attention to your home’s corners and spaces where moisture may have been building up.
Entryways and window sills are typically exposed to the elements, and water almost always builds up around these areas. Bathrooms are also ideal living spaces for humidity-loving creatures. Check your carpets, too, where moisture buildup is usually present.
Make sure these spaces remain dry to discourage centipedes and other pests from even approaching. Consider installing dehumidifiers in moisture-prone areas. A high humidity level not only invites centipedes in – it also provides them with ideal conditions to reproduce and proliferate.
3. Soak Your Plants in Soapy Water
Centipedes may have hitched a ride on the plants you’ve brought into your home. Whether they’re newly bought or outdoor plants you’ve had for quite some time, inspect them thoroughly before bringing them into your home.
These insects love cool dark places and often find shelter in the soil inside the pots of outdoor plants. Once you bring any of these plants into your home, you bring the centipedes along with them.
Damp soil provides excellent shelter and a reliable food source because their prey – pests – love hanging out in the soil, too. Soaking the whole pot in soapy water is a great way to eliminate all these little creatures making a home for themselves inside your pots. Here’s how to do it:
- Fill a large bucket with soapy water.
- Dunk the whole pot inside. Make sure the soap suds penetrate through the soil and into the plant’s root ball.
- Leave the pot wholly submerged in soapy water for 20-30 minutes.
- Take it out of the bucket and allow the soapy water to drain out.
- Flush most of the soapy water out of the soil by hosing it down with fresh, clean water.
This soapy soak works by drowning the centipedes (and any other pests) hiding within the soil. Centipedes are not aquatic and generally cannot swim or float in water. Additionally, soap is a potent insect killer.
If the soapy water doesn’t drown them, it will block the pores through which they breathe, effectively suffocating and killing them. Soap is entirely safe for the plant and won’t harm the roots, as long as they’re not left underwater for too long.
4. Get Rid of Debris in Your Potted Plants
Centipedes love hiding in damp, cold areas in the daytime. They are nocturnal, so they only come out at night to feed. Avoid using stones, moss, or leca balls as soil toppers. These provide perfect hiding spots and breeding spaces for centipedes and other insects.
Make it a habit to throw out dead leaves, wilted stems, and any litter that may have fallen on the soil since these contribute to moisture retention, too.
5. Pluck Them Out
You may be in for a surprise the next time you water your indoor plants. If they are infested with centipedes, these creepy crawlies will clamber to the surface as the soil gets soaked. This is the perfect time for you to pluck them out and rid your plants of them for good.
You may want to wear gloves since centipedes can prick your fingers with their venomous legs. Don’t worry, though, as the venom they carry causes nothing more than a minor itch or inflammation in humans.
Drop the centipedes into a bucket of soapy water if you want to eliminate them altogether. You may also set them free outdoors, away from your garden, since they are known to be beneficial insects.
6. Use Organic Insecticides
You can turn to organic insecticides for help if you’re having trouble getting rid of the centipedes infesting your indoor plants. Going the organic route ensures you get rid of unwanted pests while keeping your plants safe and healthy.
There are many options to choose from. Here are some of them:
Neem oil is a potent insecticide and is proven safe to use around plants. You can spray it all over the soil since this is where centipedes usually hide. You can also spray neem oil on your plants’ leaves and stems to eliminate other pests.
Moreover, neem oil also significantly damages reproductive and digestive functions of many insects, including common plant pests, such as aphids and leafhoppers. Getting rid of these pests will also remove centipedes from your indoor plants.
There are ready-to-use neem oil sprays in the market. You can also concoct your own solution at home. Here is how to make your own neem oil spray:
- Fill a jar with 1 gallon (4.54 L) of clean water.
- Add 2 tablespoons of pure neem oil.
- Add 1 teaspoon of dishwashing soap. This will act as an emulsifier.
- Mix well.
- Pour some into a spray bottle.
- Spray directly on the soil and all over your plants.
Boric acid is one of the simplest yet most effective methods of eliminating centipedes. All you have to do is sprinkle it over your plants’ soil.
Centipedes are oblivious to the dangers posed by boric acid. They unwittingly consume it, and they instantly get killed by the poison. If they don’t consume it, getting in contact with boric acid will cause dehydration and damage their protective covering, eventually killing them.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a powdery substance that contains algae sediments and 80 – 90% silica. It kills centipedes by drying them out until they’re completely dehydrated and die. It’s safe to use around plants because it doesn’t block water absorption. So even if you sprinkle the powdery substance all over the soil, your plants won’t be harmed.
Centipedes are repelled by the smell and taste of cayenne pepper. Try sprinkling some of the spicy powder over the soil infested by centipedes. You’ll see them scrambling out in seconds. You may take this opportunity to pluck them out, dunk them in soapy water, or spray them with neem oil solution.
7. Utilize Sticky Traps
Those sticky paper traps you use for catching flies, rats, or roaches will work for centipedes, too. Position these traps near the indoor plants that centipedes frequently invade. You can also place them on top of the soil where you know centipedes live.
When they come out to forage for food, they will come into contact with the traps and won’t be able to escape. You may then collect the centipedes and do with them as you please.
A couple of centipedes darting to and fro among your indoor plants should not be a cause of concern. They are beneficial insects because they promote a balanced ecosystem and help keep your plants healthy by getting rid of pests.
However, swarms of centipedes are a different story altogether. Take control of the situation at once before it gets out of hand. Employ proven safe and effective tactics in ridding your indoor plants of centipedes.