Adult centipedes are yellowish to dark brown, often with dark markings, and 1/8 to 6-inches long. The body is flattened with 15 to 177 body segments, which typically have one pair of legs each. They have one pair of slender antennae.
The house centipede is grey-yellow with three stripes down the back and has very long legs banded with white. The largest centipedes are found in the Southwest.
Centipedes typically over winter outdoors, and, in the summer, lay 35 eggs or more in or on the soil. Newly hatched centipedes have four pairs of legs; during subsequent molts, the centipede progressively increases the number of legs until becoming an adult. Adults of many species live a year and some as long as five to six years.
Centipedes, including the house centipede, prefer to live in moist environments. The house centipede can live indoors in damp basements, moist closets and bathrooms and outdoors under stones, decaying firewood, objects on the ground, piles of leaves, mulch, etc. Most centipedes are active at night.
The first pair of legs on centipedes has poison glands, which are used to kill prey, such as insects and spiders. They obtain most of their water from their prey. Centipedes can bite humans, but the bite is seldom worse that a bee sting.