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Are centipedes attracted to light or dark?

Centipedes are fascinating creatures that belong to the class Chilopoda. With their long, segmented bodies and numerous legs, they often evoke a mix of curiosity and caution. Centipedes can be found in various habitats around the world, ranging from forests and gardens to basements and crawl spaces. While they may seem elusive and mysterious, understanding what attracts centipedes can help homeowners effectively manage and prevent infestations. In this article, we will explore whether centipedes are attracted to light or darkness and delve into their behavior in different environments.

Factors that attract centipedes

Centipedes require specific conditions to thrive and reproduce. Certain factors make particular locations more appealing to these creatures, including:

Cool and dark environments

Centipedes have a preference for cool and dark surroundings. They are most commonly found in areas with moderate temperatures and limited exposure to light. These conditions are often present in basements, crawl spaces, storage areas, and other secluded parts of a home.

Damp and moist areas

Moisture is crucial for centipedes as they rely on it to survive. Therefore, they are frequently found in damp environments such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. These areas provide the necessary humidity and moisture for centipedes to thrive.

Proximity to food sources

Centipedes are carnivorous creatures, and their diet mainly consists of insects, spiders, and other arthropods. They are attracted to locations where their food sources are abundant. Areas with a high insect population, such as gardens, compost piles, and woodpiles, are often attractive to centipedes.

Locations that are rarely disturbed

Centipedes prefer undisturbed areas where they can establish their nests and hunt without constant interference. Places like cluttered basements, attics, and storage areas that are rarely disturbed by human activity are attractive to centipedes.

Preference for outdoor or indoor environments

While many species of centipedes are primarily found outdoors, some species have adapted to indoor environments. House centipedes, for example, are commonly spotted indoors in search of small insects and spiders to prey upon. Therefore, both outdoor and indoor environments can attract different species of centipedes.

Centipedes’ preference for darkness

Centipedes exhibit a strong preference for darkness due to various reasons. Their adaptations and behaviors reflect their need for dark environments.

Adaptations of centipedes to darkness

Centipedes have highly developed sensory organs that aid their navigation in dark spaces. They possess long antennae which help them detect vibrations, chemicals, and even air movements. Additionally, they have a unique set of legs called “forcipules” located near their heads, which serve as specialized appendages used for capturing prey.

Reasons for centipedes seeking darkness

There are several reasons why centipedes are drawn to darkness:

Avoiding predators

Centipedes have numerous predators, including birds, reptiles, other insects, and even larger centipedes. Darkness provides them with better opportunities to hide and avoid becoming prey.

Finding suitable hiding spots

Dark environments offer abundant hiding places for centipedes. They seek refuge under rocks, logs, decaying vegetation, and in crevices where they can remain concealed during the day.

Protecting themselves from extreme temperatures

Centipedes are generally sensitive to extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. Darkness provides a cooler and more stable environment that protects them from the scorching sun or freezing temperatures.

Centipedes’ behavior in light

While centipedes prefer darkness, they do exhibit specific behaviors when exposed to light.

Negative phototaxis

Centipedes have negative phototaxis, which means they have an aversion to bright light and will instinctively move away from it. When exposed to light, they often seek shelter or darker areas to protect themselves.

Response to artificial light

Centipedes are attracted to artificial light sources at night, such as porch lights or indoor lamps. This behavior can lead them into homes or closer to areas where they can find prey. During the day, when natural light is more intense, centipedes tend to seek shelter and remain hidden.

Outdoor vs. indoor environments

Different species of centipedes exhibit varying preferences for outdoor or indoor environments.

Centipedes commonly found in outdoor environments

Many species of centipedes are naturally suited to outdoor habitats. They thrive in environments with abundant moisture, vegetation, and potential prey sources. Outdoor spaces like gardens, forested areas, and compost piles provide excellent habitats for these centipedes.

Centipedes that adapt well to indoor environments

Some centipede species have successfully adapted to urban environments and can be found indoors. House centipedes, with their elongated bodies and long legs, are often spotted indoors. They feed on small insects and spiders commonly found in homes, making them well-suited to indoor environments.

Differences in behavior between outdoor and indoor centipedes

While the basic instincts and preferences of centipedes remain the same, there may be slight behavioral differences between those found outdoors and those found indoors. Outdoor centipedes may have more opportunities to find natural food sources and rely less on artificial light, while indoor centipedes may adapt their behaviors to take advantage of prey opportunities within the home.

Control and prevention measures

To manage and prevent centipede infestations, it’s essential to address the factors that attract them. Here are some measures you can take:

Removing attractive habitats

Clear any clutter and debris around your home, as they can provide hiding places for centipedes. Remove woodpiles, excess vegetation, and decaying organic matter, as these are potential locations where centipedes can thrive.

Eliminating moisture and dampness

Address any moisture issues in your home, including leaks, high humidity, and areas prone to condensation. Centipedes need moisture to survive, so by reducing dampness, you make your home less appealing to them.

Sealing entry points

Seal any cracks and gaps in the foundation, walls, windows, and doors to prevent centipedes from entering your home. This reduces the likelihood of them finding suitable environments and food sources inside.

Reducing artificial light sources at night

Minimize the use of outdoor lights at night, as centipedes are attracted to light sources. Opt for motion sensor lights or use low-intensity bulbs that are less likely to draw centipedes and other insects towards your home.

Implementing pest control measures if necessary

If you have a severe centipede infestation, consider contacting a professional pest control service. They can assess the situation and take appropriate measures to eliminate the infestation and prevent future occurrences.


Understanding what attracts centipedes can help homeowners effectively manage and prevent infestations. Centipedes are generally attracted to cool, dark, and damp environments that are close to their food sources and rarely disturbed. They exhibit a preference for darkness due to their adaptations and the need to avoid predators, find suitable hiding spots, and protect themselves from extreme temperatures. While centipedes have a negative phototaxis and are averse to bright light, they are attracted to artificial light sources at night. By addressing the factors that attract centipedes and implementing preventive measures, homeowners can significantly reduce the likelihood of centipede infestations and maintain a pest-free environment.


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