6 effective ways to get rid of centipedes in potted plants (2023)

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When I woke up today and checked the soil of my potted plants, I found several centipedes walking around in them. I've been researching to find out what these insects are and how to get rid of them.

The best way to get rid of centipedes is to use organic methods like using a trap, removing them by hand, using chickens, orapplieskieselguhr. You can also use pesticides to get rid of them, but only leave this as a last resort if an infestation is present.

If you have centipedes in your potted plants, you might freak out at the sight of the large insects. But don't worry, because there are several ways to remove them from the plants.

Spraying diluted essential oil near your potted plants will help keep not only millipedes away, but other pests like aphids, beetles, ants, snails, flies, and mosquitoes as well. Try thisbest essential oils on Amazon.com.

How to get rid of centipedes in potted plants?

There are several ways to get rid of centipedes in potted plants. I always recommend starting with the organic methods before committing to chemical pesticides.

Centipedes can also be beneficial for your potted plantsas they consume decomposing plant matter and enrich the soil. So I would suggest not killing the centipedes unless absolutely necessary.

They tend to become a pest when they start feeding on your seedlings and young plants in the garden. They also become a problem when too many of them cause an infestation in your potted plants.

Here are 6 effective ways to get rid of centipedes in your potted plants.

Select them from your plants

The next best approach is to use your hands and pluck them from the potted plants. You can then release them far away from your plants. This method only works if you are not squeamish about handling bugs in the garden.

You must be careful not to crush or stress the centipedes as they release a chemical that causes a foul odor. Some people might also be allergic to this chemical. In some rare cases, there are some centipedes that have a bite that can be mildly venomous.

You can use a pairgarden glovesif you prefer not to touch them with your hands or just want to be extra careful.

You can get the gardening gloves for free or at a really cheap price.Check out my post on container gardening on a budget for some ideas.

If you really want to avoid touching them, you can vacuum up the centipedes and dispose of them.

Catch them with a trap

You can lure the centipedes to a trap and catch them. Then you can release them far from the potted plants.

plastic bottle trap

You can craft a simple trap using the following materials:


  • Plastic bottle (soda bottle) with cap
  • Vinyl tubing (from the hardware store)
  • pocket knife
  • Piece of ripe fruit
  • Band

Put the piece of ripe fruit in the plastic bottle. This will lure the centipedes into the bottle.

If the vinyl tubing is the same width as the plastic bottle opening, you can easily insert it. If not, you can poke a small hole in the bottle cap with the pocket knife and insert the vinyl tubing.

Insert the vinyl tubing into the opening of the bottle so that 2 inches of tubing is inside the bottle. Make sure the tubing does not touch the sides of the bottle.

You can use the tape to attach the tube to the bottle.

Place this plastic bottle trap in thepotting soilinfested with centipedes. Make sure the plastic bottle is on its side with the opening touching the bottom if possible.

The centipedes are attracted to the fruit and enter the bottle through the tube. Once inside, they can't crawl out.

Every day if you find some centipedes in the bottle, you can take them far away from the potted plants and release them.

LED light trap

You can set this trap if youPotted plants are outdoorsin a garden. Centipedes are attracted to the light and you can use this to your advantage to catch them.

You will need the following materials

  • A deep mealContainer
  • A bucket that can cover the container
  • A bright battery operatedLED light
  • shovel
  • water
  • pair of knives
  • Band

Use the shovel to dig a hole in the garden near the potted plants, deep enough for the food container to stand in. The rim of the container should be level with the surface of the soil.

Be sure to cover the sides of the container with soil so it's tight and doesn't move or have gaps. Pour the water into the food container to keep it full.

Use the cutters to cut some narrow slits on the top of the bucket. These slits allow the centipedes to enter the bucket.

Use the faucet and glue the battery powered LED to the bottom of the bucket. Place the bucket upside down on the food container filled with water.

At night you need to turn on the LED so the centipedes are attracted to the warm light. They will enter the bucket, fall into the water-filled feeder and drown.

You can remove the bucket in the morning and look for centipedes in the feeder. Then discard the water and replace with a fresh supply.

Attract useful animals

There are some animals that like to feast on the centipedes. So this solution works if you can get it to your potted plants.

animals like frogs,toads, ravens, pigeons like to eat the centipedes. You can also raise some chickens that the centipedes would eat. The advantage of chickens is that you can get some eggs and chickenfertilizealso.

This solution only works if your potted plants are outdoors and you have a garden that can be suitable for such animals.

If you want to grow potted plants outdoors, check out my post on container gardening.

Use diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earthis the fossilized material of microscopic organisms known as diatoms. You can find this material near river beds, lakes, streams, and the ocean.

The powder form of this material is suitable for getting rid of arthropods. These are insects that have a segmented body with an exoskeleton.

(Video) SECRET BAKING SODA HACK || The Most Powerful Organic Pesticide Mixture

The diatomaceous earth is effective against insects such asaphids, mealybugs, Japanese beetles, mites and even centipedes. Be sure to buy food gradeDiatomaceous earthin the garden center or in the online shop.

The diatomaceous earth powder has sharp microscopic edges that lodge in the joints of such insects. They cut open the insects' outer covering and dehydrate them, ultimately resulting in the insects being killed.

You can spray this powder on your skinpotting soiland the centipedes will die as soon as they come into contact with it. Diatomaceous earth is organic and will take a few days for the powder to work on the centipedes.

I wrote adetailed post on using diatomaceous earth for your plants. You will learn when to use it and how often you should do it.

Make sure to spray the powder when your kids and pets are away from the potted plants. Also, be sure to use a mask when spraying. Diatomaceous earth is not toxic, but it can irritate your lungs if you inhale the powder.

I think the better option is toMix in the diatomaceous earth powderwith water and then spray it on the potting soil. This will prevent the powder from flying around. Once the water dries up, the diatomaceous earth takes effect.

An alternative to using diatomaceous earth is boric acid. You should be able to get this in a laundry aisle at the mall.

The boric acid works in a similar way to diatomaceous earth, where it slices through the centipedes with its sharp, microscopic edges and then dehydrates them. It also acts as a poison when the centipedes ingest the powder.

I would suggest only using boric acid if you don't have children and pets moving around your potted plants.

Spray chemicals on the potting soil

I would suggest keeping this as a last resort. Only use this if your garden has a heavy infestation of centipedes.

If you areGrow vegetables in the pots, I would suggest not using this chemical option as you risk contaminating the veg as well.

The chemical pesticides get rid of the centipedes quickly, but they stay in the soilpotting soilfor a while. Some of them can also affect beneficial insects that may live in your potted plants.

You can use pesticides that contain chemicals like bendiocarb, carbaryl, propoxur, cyfluthrin, or pyrethrin to get rid of the centipedes.

It is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions on thesepesticidebottles. If you use too much, you risk itpotting soilpoisonous. This will kill the beneficial insects and the plant itself.

Get rid of the potting soil

If your potted plant is heavily infested with centipedes, one option is to dispose of the potting soil yourself.

This means that you have to transplant the plant from one pot to another. Be sure to seek out any centipedes that may be on your plant before transplanting.

Get a new pot and fill it up with fresh potting soil. Hold the base of the plant and tap the pot lightly to loosen the root ball.

When the plant comes out of the pot, be sure to remove as much potting soil from the roots as possible. Make a hole in the center of the potting soil in the new pot.

Place the root ball of the plant in the hole and cover the roots with the potting soil.Water the potting soilwell until water drains from the bottom.

You need to dispose of the potting soil in the old pot that was infested with centipedes. You can reuse the pot after soaking it in a mixture of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water for at least an hour.

Be sure to rinse the pot well with water and dry it before using it again.

If you put in some time and effort, you can try sterilizing the old potting soil to get rid of the centipede and other pests.

(Video) Repot with me, Centipedes or Millipedes?

How do you keep centipedes away from your potted plants?

Once you've managed to remove or kill the centipedes from your potted plants, you'll want to keep them away permanently. Below are some of the options that you can apply to the potted plants.

Spray on essential oils

Essential Olecan't kill the centipedes, but you can use them to stop the centipedes from getting into your potted plants.

Some essential oils that have been found to be effective against centipedes are tea tree oil and peppermint oil. These have a strong odor that centipedes don't like.

You need to make a diluted mixture of essential oils and water before spraying on the potted plant. If you only use the essential oils, they are too concentrated and toxic enough to burn your plant.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for how much to dilute the essential oil. As a general rule, you can add 1 ounce of the oil to a gallon of water.

Spray the mixture onto the potting soil and the leaves of the plant to deter centipedes. The essential oils have a strong odor, so do not spray near places frequented by people and pets.

If you aregrow potted vegetablesand spray such essential oil, be sure to wash the vegetables well after harvesting.

Clean your garden of plant matter

The leaves and plant parts that fall into your potted plant create a dark, damp environment underneath that centipedes are attracted to.

They like to eat the rotting plant parts such as leaves, stems, roots and rotting fruit. It's best to remove such plant matter as soon as possible so it doesn't get a chance to enter your potted plants.

You may need to add dried leaves, grass clippings, or wood shavingsmulchin your potted plants. I would suggest keeping this to a minimum as centipedes prefer to stay in it.

Having plant matter or unwanted items lying around in your yard is another reason centipedes may be attracted to your yard.

Always keep your potted plants, as well as the garden, clean and free of any type of clutter that creates an environment suitable for centipedes.

I recommend reading this post which will help you tidy up your garden regularly to avoid centipede problems.

Be careful when watering your plants

Another situation that can create a humid environment that attracts centipedes is too much water in your potting soil.

You must avoidoverhydrationthe earth. Make sure you only water the soil when it has dried out 1-2 inches below the surface.

If your potted plants are placed in a tray, pour out the water every day after watering the plant. If you leave the water in the bowl, the centipedes will be attracted to the pot.

PreferablyWater your potted plantsin the morning. This will help the potting soil get the moisture it needs before the sun comes up.

The sun's heat evaporates excess moisture from the soil surface and leaves. This discourages the centipedes from settling in the potted plant.

If you can only water the potted plants in the evening, make sure to only water the potting soil. Avoid splashing water on the foliage, and if you do, clean it off so it doesn't stay on the plant overnight.

You can spraywood ashon your potting soil as it will help absorb excess moisture from the surface.

Repair all cracked pots

If your pots are cracked, they become a breeding ground for centipedes. The damp, dark hiding place is handy for them to survive.

(Video) How to Get Rid of Centipedes (4 Easy Steps)

It is best to check your pots daily for signs of cracking or splitting. If you find these in the pot, it is best to seal the crack with caulk.

If the crack is too big to repair, it's best to replace the pot. You need to transplant the plant from the existing pot to a new one.

Use organic repellents

Cayenne pepper is a natural repellent for many pests, including centipedes. You can get something freshCayenne Pfefferand grind it into a powder or buy the powder directly.

Sprinkle the powder on the potting soil and the centipedes will try to avoid getting into the potted plant.

You can also use puresulfurPowder to deter centipedes from settling in your potted plants. Sprinkle the powder onto the potting soil to keep them away.

The only problem with using itsulfuris that it smells bad. Therefore, only use these when the potted plants are outdoors and far from the house.

6 effective ways to get rid of centipedes in potted plants (1)

How to get rid of centipede odor?

When agitated or killed, centipedes can release a foul-smelling chemical as part of their defense mechanism.

If you accidentally touch this chemical while getting rid of the centipedes, you could start smelling or, worse, suffer an allergic reaction.

That's whyI recommend using gardening glovesif you use methods that require you to come into contact with the centipedes.

You can use materials likeVinegar, baking soda, or bleach to get rid of the smell left by centipedes. Be sure to dilute the material with water before spraying on the area. Leave the sprayed mixture on for an hour before rinsing off with water.

Here are some of my favorite container garden tools

Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I have listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I get a commission if you use them.

garden gloves- I find themPine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Glovesreally good for both men and women. It's made of bamboo, which helps absorb sweat. They are also comfortable and fit very well.

container- You know that choosing the right container for your container gardening is crucial. I wrote ain-depth post on the best containersYou can choose. If you are satisfied with a plastic container, you can take a look at thisFlower Saturn Planter.

watering can- This is an essential tool when growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. ThatKensington watering canis stylish, strong and can provide precision when watering potted plants.

WhoGarden Guru Kelleis my favorite because it is durable and convenient to use. My gardening friends love having a trowel because they use it to dig soil, mix fertilizer, move seeds, level the ground, mix compost or mulch, and also divide tubers

bypass pruners- I like theCorona-Bypass-Gartenscherebecause it is durable and provides a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you're looking for something cheap, go for itFiskars Bypass Secateursthat's really good too.

To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools that gardeners recommend,Check out this resourcethat I made for you

(Video) How To Get Rid Of Centipedes & Millipedes ( 3 Easy Steps )


How do you get rid of centipedes in a potted plant? ›

Fill a bucket with soapy water and immerse the pot (and therefore the root ball) in it. Let it sit completely submerged for 15 to 30 minutes, then take it out of the water and let it drain. You can do the same indoors to get rid of the centipedes in the pot of your palm.

What kills centipedes in plants? ›

Sticky Traps. Sticky traps are the most effective way to catch centipedes and remove them without even touching them. My favorite is the Catch Master, they are effective and quite cheap (you can also find on Amazon, check them here).

Are centipedes harmful to potted plants? ›

Centipedes/ Millipedes

While these multi-legged insects are usually beneficial, they can cause problems for houseplants—especially when limited to a small area. Millipedes aid decomposition by eating organic matter like fallen leaves, but indoors, they might be forced to munch on living plant material.

What kills centipedes instantly? ›

Products containing pyrethroids (cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, cypermethrin, permethrin or tralomethrin) will exterminate centipedes on contact, and can be used as a fog or spray.

Does vinegar get rid of centipedes? ›

You can place vinegar solution in a spray bottle to directly target centipedes in your home. The overwhelming odor of vinegar will kill centipedes due to the sensory overload and dehydration it causes to their exoskeletons. Certain essential oils like tea tree and peppermint oils have a similar effect on centipedes.

What is a natural pesticide for centipedes? ›

Tea tree oil or Peppermint oil are overwhelming to centipedes. Add 25 drops of either essential oil into a spray bottle with 6 ounces of water. Spray around door frames, windows, small cracks and basement doors. Repeat once a week to keep centipedes away.

Does baking soda deter centipedes? ›

Sticky traps, vinegar, cedarwood spray, salt and/or baking soda sprinkled on thresholds and in corners, and the aforementioned diatomaceous earth are all safe methods for eliminating these pests.

Why are there centipedes in my potted plants? ›

Centipedes are usually attracted to houseplants because of an abundance of organic material -- such as fallen leaves -- and moisture. They can also find their ways into your indoor plants while looking for insects to feed on. No matter what their reason, centipedes don't feed or damage plants.

Do centipedes lay eggs in soil? ›

Centipedes lay their eggs in the hollows of rotting logs or in the soil. Most females will tend to their eggs and hatchlings, curling their bodies around their brood for protection. In addition, eggs are prone to the growth of fungi and require grooming to ensure that they reach adulthood.

What are the tiny centipedes in my potting soil? ›

If you see tiny centipede-like bugs in the soil of your vegetable patch, they are likely garden symphylans. Though they are sometimes called garden centipedes, garden symphylans are not true centipedes, though they are related. They're not insects; instead, they're myriapods.

Do centipedes burrow in soil? ›

Centipedes are an important component of healthy soils, as many centipede species burrow, live, and die underground. Their tunnels help rainwater to soak into the earth. They prey on tiny animals and in turn are preyed upon by larger animals such as shrews, moles, lizards, toads, and small snakes.

How do I get rid of centipedes forever? ›

How to Get Rid of House Centipedes
  1. Eradicate their food source. If you're wondering how to get rid of house centipedes, start by doing your best to get rid of any other household pests that they feed upon. ...
  2. Use a dehumidifier. ...
  3. Install a bathroom fan for showers. ...
  4. Seal any cracks or crevices. ...
  5. Clean up outside.
May 11, 2022

How do you get rid of centipedes infestation? ›

To get rid of centipedes in your home, thoroughly clean damp areas of your house, like the basement, bathroom, or attic and remove their hiding places. You can kill centipedes you find with Ortho® Home Defense Max® Indoor Insect Barrier with Extended Reach Comfort Wand®.

What powder kills centipedes? ›

Use Boric Acid

Boric acid is used for a wide variety of applications, including centipede control. To use boric acid to kill centipedes, sprinkle a bit of the white powder in areas where you believe centipedes are entering your home or gathering.

What kills centipedes? ›

Synthetic pesticides containing pyrethoids will kill centipedes on contact. Outdoors, natural pesticides like diatomaceous earth and boric acid can be sprinkled around, but make sure to do your research to find out whether they will negatively affect any plants located around your home.

Do dehumidifiers keep centipedes away? ›

Use a dehumidifier

Bringing humidity levels down to typical indoor levels will actually make it impossible for house centipedes to survive in your building for long periods of time. Overall, proper humidity control is one of the most crucial ways to prevent long term or ongoing centipede infestations.

What can I spray a centipede with? ›

Insecticide Spray: If you find a centipede, killing one with an insecticide spray can put a quick end to your problem. Sprays with bifenthrin or cypermethrin will kill centipedes on sight with one quick shot. Similar to the dust, follow instructions and keep away from pets and children.

Does Windex keep centipedes away? ›

Does Windex keep centipedes away? Because Windex doesn't work as a repellent, it's no more effective at getting rid of the occasional bug than using a broom to shoo the critter outdoors or a paper towel to squish it. You're better off saving the cleaning solution for its rightful use.

Does light keep centipedes away? ›

Use Light. Simply turning on a light may work as a short-term centipede deterrent. Once exposed by bright lights, these pests will scurry back to safe, dark wall cracks or vents. While this won't solve a centipede problem, it may expose the creatures' hiding places or entry points.

Does Borax get rid of centipedes? ›

Answer: Boric acid can kill any insect that walks through an area it has been applied really. You should note that Boric Acid works by ingestion and can take up to two weeks to kill insects that ingest the dust.

Do moth balls repel centipedes? ›

Inside of killing centipedes, a good way to keep them out of your home is by removing any pests they are looking to feed on; seal cracks in the windows, empty kitchen bins regularly, and place moth balls in your wardrobes.

Are soil centipedes harmful? ›

Soil centipedes (geophilomorpha) are very small and possess many pairs of legs, often exceeding 60 pairs. These centipedes live in the ground, where they prey on subterranean insects. They are completely harmless.

Are soil centipedes poisonous? ›

Soil centipedes influence the soil in ways that benefit humans. Also, they cannot bite people and therefore are harmless to humans.

What makes house centipedes go away? ›

Reduce moisture.

Centipedes prefer moist, high-humidity environments to live. To eliminate these areas, repair water leaks, use dehumidifiers to keep basements dry, and run exhaust fans in bathrooms and attics to help eliminate excess moisture.

How do you treat centipedes in soil? ›

Washing off the pot and placing a piece of wire screening (with very tiny holes) over the drainage hole would also be some great steps to take! Insecticides: Try to use any form of insecticide, either chemical or organic, as a last resort to control centipedes.

How do you find a centipede nest? ›

The House Centipede will prefer to live in damp areas such as cellars, closets, bathrooms. They can also be found in attics (during the warmer months) and unexcavated areas under the house. Eggs are laid in these same damp places and behind baseboards or beneath bark on firewood.

Where do centipedes go during the day? ›

During the day, they rest and bide their time in dark, damp, and confined shelters. House centipedes prefer to shelter near a source of moisture and food. Their climbing ability and small bodies make virtually any opening or structure large enough to harbor a resting centipede.

What animals eat centipedes? ›

What Eats Centipedes and Millipedes? Centipedes and millipedes that make their homes outdoors are prey to shrews, toads, badgers and birds, including domestic chickens. Ground beetles, ants and spiders may also hunt young millipedes and centipedes.

Do centipedes like wet soil? ›

Most adult centipedes prefer moist, dark, quiet places during winter and place their eggs in dampened soil during spring or summer.

How long do house centipedes live? ›

After each developmental moult, the centipedes gain more legs. House centipede development is much slower than that of spiders or other insects, taking upwards of 3 years to reach sexual maturity. They are also long-lived and can live as long as 7 years.

Can centipedes survive in water? ›

Centipedes not only walk on land but also swim in water.

The essential mechanisms underlying how amphibious animals coordinate their body and appendages during adaptive locomotion have long been elusive. Figure1: Photographs for the transition from swimming to walking in centipede (Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans).

Does vinegar repel house centipedes? ›

It's not uncommon to find house centipedes near bathroom or kitchen drains or in the cabinets under the sink. Pouring some vinegar or bleach down the drain will usually keep them out. Use one-half cup of vinegar, wait an hour, then another half cup. For bleach, use a 50:50 water/bleach solution.

What kills centipedes indoors? ›

To get rid of centipedes in your home, thoroughly clean damp areas of your house, like the basement, bathroom, or attic and remove their hiding places. You can kill centipedes you find with Ortho® Home Defense Max® Indoor Insect Barrier with Extended Reach Comfort Wand®.

How do I get rid of little centipedes? ›

To control centipedes hiding in tight places, use Ortho® Home Defense® Insect Killer for Cracks & Crevices. You can also simply vacuum up centipedes when you find them, then seal and dispose of the vacuum bag to keep them from escaping.

How do you get rid of centipedes? ›

A dehumidifier can help reduce moisture, which is the main attraction for centipedes in your home. Close up any cracks and crevices in the foundation or exterior of your home to prevent centipedes (and other pests) from entering. Also, keep an eye on any other insects that you might find in your home.

What scent keeps centipedes away? ›

Tea tree oil or Peppermint oil are overwhelming to centipedes. Add 25 drops of either essential oil into a spray bottle with 6 ounces of water. Spray around door frames, windows, small cracks and basement doors. Repeat once a week to keep centipedes away.

Do moth balls keep centipedes away? ›

Inside of killing centipedes, a good way to keep them out of your home is by removing any pests they are looking to feed on; seal cracks in the windows, empty kitchen bins regularly, and place moth balls in your wardrobes.


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