Sink Bugs, Bathtub Bugs, Eyelash Bugs, or House Centipedes?

April 26, 2013

Ever seen a weird creature stranded in your bathtub, that could easily be mistaken for a discarded fake eyelash? Two of my friends, Matt and Kristi, have (p.s. they're Museum members too). In fact, they often find them in their bathroom. However, this week they had an unusual sighting. Matt was sleepily making breakfast and pulled out a package of oatmeallo and behold an eyelash bug darted out from the cupboard! Seriously, these bugs are FAST, so it's not surprising that it startled him. Quick to recover, he grabbed the nearest empty jar (only a bit of pickle juice was left), and captured the bug. Kristi kindly brought the bug to the Museum, so it could pose for a photo shoot and I could write this blog. Thanks guys!

Captive Eyelash Bug Love the gloves Kristi!  So what is it? This bug is a House Centipede, Scutigera coleoptrata. It is another one of those creatures that calls our homes their homes. However, unlike some of the other arthropods that live with us, this guy is a predator that eats other household pests. Case in pointafter we received Matt and Kristi's eyelash bug, we made it a little habitat and gave it some food. We popped a dermestid beetle larva in with it and it made quick business devouring it. You can see the remains of the beetle in the lower left of the picture below. FYIdermestid beetles are pests that can eat wool, silk, leather, fur, pet hair, feathers and sometimes spices and grains too!  

Seriously, this centipede knows how to work the camera! Here's what Insects of the L.A. Basin has to say about them: "This centipede is about an inch (25mm) long and distinctive because of its very long slender legs; there are only fifteen pairs of legs in adults, and the last pair is much longer than the rest (in the female they are twice as long as the body). The entire body is exceedingly frail and pale translucent-bluish in general color. The species is very active and moves rapidly in attempts to escape capture and to snatch the small insects it requires as food. Individuals are commonly found indoors, darting across the floor or clinging to a wall. They are particularly attracted to bathtubs, washbasins, and damp basements. Outdoors they are active in the summer and fall; most summer evenings, a certain House Centipede visits my porch light to catch insects that it attracts. It is doubtful that this species of centipede can even inflict a wound to human skin, so it should not be considered dangerous. It is actually beneficial in that it preys on many insect housepests, such as silverfish."

(Posted by: Lila Higgins)


Last summer I found about 3 of these in my home. I panicked the first time I saw one as I didnt know what time of bug this was, and weather it was dangerous or not. I have been very curious as to what the name of this bug was. The information provided was really helpful.I will look into this site more often.

Thanks for the info! I have found 2 of these bugs in my house recently and they scared the poop out of me!! They were so fast....I had no clue what they were. Glad to know they don't bite but would rather them stay outside!! :)

Glad to know they are not harmful found a baby on my arm. See them all of the time. Good to know I don't have to kill them

I'm curious if these have become more prevalent in recent years -- maybe because of the drought or climate change. I've lived in LA for 13 years and have only seen them since July of 2015 -- and since then, I've seen several in various places. It seems a bunch of them have suddenly arrived on the scene. Is that accurate, or did I somehow just miss them before?

where do those live?

They do bite

I found this page unfortunately because my biggest fear came true. I have centipedes in my apartment and I'm terrified of them. Yesterday I couldn't get out of bed to even walk to the kitchen my head hurt so bad and I felt sick. I thought it was a migraine until I saw something long coming out of my nose and there was a huge centipede leg in it. I looked up online that the hollow legs ( which it was) contains venom. I couldn't get out of bed. Last night I slept with a stocking over my head. I'm totally freaked out. All I'm thinking is how did his leg come off in my nose it wasn't small I'm afraid he's still in there. I know he's not but my anxiety is at a high.

Just found one of these in my AirBnB rental here in Santa Monica near the pier bathroom for the first time! Good thing this site was available to learn they aren't dangerous.

I just moved to Boyle Heights- I'd never seen this insect before in my life! I've lived in the general LA area, Koreatown, Glendale. But never before had I encountered it. I see one at least once a week. I'm fascinated by insects and glad to learn they don't harm humans, but I do admit I get creeped out at night (which is usually the time of day I see them) and imagine one crawling on my with its long eyelash legs!

Just had one above my bed on my ceiling I did kill it but we have a huge gnat problem so it was just doing its job. So glad I know now they are harmless.

I found 1 in my sink and i just scared me so hard

Thanks for the info! Good to know they're not a pest!

To the person that asked if they've become more prevalent in recent years - unscientifically I can say down in the south east they have. Stink bugs as well as these.

I have little gray bugs in my tub coming from the drain. What can I do about them how can I get rid of them. Please help.

I found one in my bathroom. Took the nearest bottle of hair spray and gassed him till he couldn't move. Then I disposed of him after I was done with my shower. :)

Just found one in the provisional kitchen of my fixer upper manor in southern france. My kid wanted me to kill it but i remembered seein' this article a while back & remembered seeing this article....remembered theres no reason to kill it. Pretty good lookin' bug, 'specially when you know its on your team.

I just saw one in my bathroom. Not the first time either and it always freaks me out. Strange thing this last one, when I turned on light in the bathroom, it was chillin onthe sink and it didn't move. It was facing me and even when I moved to grab my shoe and moved my arm above it, it didn't move at all. Yes, I smooshed the life out of it. They're super creepy and I'm afraid it would wind up in my bedroom crawling on me. Eeeek!

Post new comment

Want to get updates for the NHMLA Nature Blog sent to your email ?

Sign up below and we'll send you the latest in L.A. Nature!