So you’ve stumbled across an unwanted pest in your home. Upon seeing this creature, something is familiar about it. It looks like either a house centipede or a silverfish, but which is it? While it is true that both have long antennae, have an elongated body, and are similar in appearance, there are many distinct differenced between these two insects.

To start with, they differ in their overall size, the number of legs that they have, and their color. Naturally, you likely already know that -of the two – silverfish are the most devastating, in terms of damage. Finding either validates a call to your local pest control company for extermination. Continue reading to learn how to determine which you have discovered in your home.

House Centipede
House Centipede

The Legs

When determining whether or not you are seeing a house centipede or a silverfish, look at the legs. The centipede will have a larger amount of legs than the silverfish. In fact, the house centipede has around 30 legs. The silverfish will only have about 6 legs. What causes most people to get confused are the 2 rear legs that female centipedes have that extend behind the rear of the body.

Silverfish have these types of rear legs, too. House centipedes have dark bands along their legs, whereas silverfish normally have legs that appear to be silver or gray. Centipede legs are much longer than silverfish legs. Silverfish have 3 appendages that look like legs that extend out from the abdomen and centipedes do not have these. These are apparatuses that are utilized by silverfish for sensing purposes and are not legs.

The Body

In evaluating the body of the creature that you have discovered in your home, take note of the color and the size. The house centipede is typically light yellowish brown and has dark-colored bands running down the torso region – in a vertical manner.

The silverfish normally has a silver or a gray body. In very rare occasions, its body may be a dark brown coloring. The torso does not have a dark band; however, its body is segmented in a horizontal fashion.

The house centipede is normally very large in comparison to a silverfish. It measures up to 6 inches in length; whereas, a silverfish typically only grows up to 1 inch in length. The silverfish body is typically soft and the centipede body seems a little longer. Both have antenna emerging from the head region but the house centipedes are typically longer and thinner than that of a silverfish.

House Centipede
House Centipede

Do They Bite?

Both the house centipede and the silverfish look as though they bite and if they did, they would pack a powerful punch. The truth of the matter is, though, that only centipedes will actually bite.

The good news is, if you are on the receiving end of the bite, it will not be a major medical emergency.

At worst, it may be equivalent to what you would expect with a bee sting. While it is true that there is a bit of venom that will be injected into you, most of the time this is not considered to be harmful to humans. Yes, there are a few people out there that MAY experience an allergic reaction to a house centipede bite, but this is very rare and is likely only to result in mild symptoms. Silverfish are known for gnawing into items around the home, but they are not known to bite any type of living organism – especially people.

Eating Habits

If you discover that you have a house centipede in your home, it is quite likely that there are other insects in your home, too. These insects are known to nibble on termites, spiders, roaches, and bed bugs. They only consume bugs. Silverfish – on the other hand – have a unique diet.

They love paper, sugars, crumbs, natural fibers, carbs, and even each other! You are likely to notice the effects of a silverfish being in your home before a centipede – based on their eating habits, alone!

Ever noticed a book with pages that has small holes? A little hole chewed through on a bread wrapper? Crumbs appearing in odd locations? Yes, all of these would indicate the presence of silverfish in your home.

Silverfish in the House
Silverfish in the House


Now, on to where house centipedes and silverfish like to live. First, both creatures will flock to areas that have moisture. It is not likely that you will see either insect until the night hours as they are both considered to be nocturnal.

Both are very, very fast and will attempt to run quickly if you switch on a light. They also prefer warm environments to cold environments.

In short, you are most likely to observe either of these creatures in your bathroom or kitchen. Look behind the toilet, near the faucets, underneath the sink, in dark corners, and behind piles of debris that include paper and cardboard. Those are going to be the regions where you are most likely to stumble across these insects.

Silverfish are destructive to items in your home – such as books. House centipedes help in taking care of other pest problems you may have; however, you should eliminate any type of insect infestation that you discover in your home immediately.


At this point, you have probably figured out which you have discovered in your home – silverfish or house centipede. It is time to call your local pest control company to schedule an extermination. The next step is to learn how to prevent further infestations from occurring in your home.

For those of you that are having a silverfish issue, get read of unneeded cardboard and paper content. If you need boxes, switch to storage containers that are composed of plastic. Also, look over your home and repair any cracks or openings you have. All you need to use is a simple caulk.

When it comes to house centipedes, make sure there are not any other types of insects in your home. You should scan the area around your home and get rid of any potential nesting areas.

Examples include piles of leaves and piles of wood. If you use an indoor stove or furnace that uses wood, be sure to store the wood somewhere outdoors. Also, you will want to make certain – in terms of both pests – that you keep the inside of your home dry and cool. This includes any rooms that include a bathtub, shower stall, inside hot tub, or an interior swimming pool.


Now you know what that crazy looking creature is that you stumbled across in your home. It is either a silverfish or a house centipede.

Now, it is time to get rid of it and all of its little friends. That is where we here at All Pest come into play. We offer full extermination services for these pests. We also offer a multitude of other services such as heat treatments for bed bug infestations, home inspections, and exterior pest control services for the perimeter of the outside of your home.

If you would like to eradicate pests in or around your home, All Pest handles it ALL!

Simply give us a call today to learn more and/or to set up an appointment so that we may quickly eliminate the creatures that are causing you difficulties! You may reach us by calling the following: 765-259-0043