Technically centipedes are not insects. They belong to the order Chilopoda. Centipedes are multi-segmented animals. They have a pair of legs on almost every body segment. Centipedes are predators of insects. They use the venom in their claws to paralyze their prey.
Where the centipedes live is a factor in their reproduction. In warm climates, centipedes are able to reproduce during the entire year. In cooler climates, they become inactive during the winter. In these areas, they reproduce during the spring and summer.
Female centipedes deposit their eggs in the soil. Females of some species place their eggs in holes. They cover the eggs with soil and leave them. Females of other species place the eggs in nests. They stay with the eggs until they hatch. These female centipedes clean the eggs to prevent fungal damage. The development time for the eggs can range form one month to several months.
When they hatch, tropical centipede larvae and soil centipede larvae look like the adults. These larvae have all of their body segments and legs when they hatch. Some species, like the house centipede larvae, have only four pair of legs when they hatch. The house centipede larvae add additional pairs of legs each time they molt.
Some female centipedes stay with the larvae until they are able to hunt for themselves. The larvae eat insects and spiders, just as the adults do. Centipedes do not live in colonies like ants. Centipedes do not cluster together like bedbugs. All of the centipedes hunt independently.
Some centipedes reach maturity in a year or less. Centipede larvae of other species take two or three years to reach maturity. Many centipedes live for 5-6 years.
Controlling centipedes begins with eliminating their insect food. Outside, move the firewood away from the house. Rake mulch and dead leaves at least 12″ away from the foundation.
Make sure exterior doors close tightly. Replace any missing weather-stripping. Make sure the access door to the crawl space closes securely. Repair any damaged screens on the crawl space vents.
A vacuum cleaner is a quick way to eliminate centipedes indoors. On the outside, an insecticide barrier can help prevent centipedes and insects from gathering on the foundation. Because the weather will breakdown the insecticide, the barrier will have o be re=applied periodically. Many people have pest control professionals make these applications.