Control centipedes with safe, clean-smelling orange oil.

Orange Oil for Centipede Control

by Kristi Roddey

With little humans crawling through your home, you don't need little critters crawling through it as well. Centipedes (Scutigera coleoptrera) can be beneficial in that they feed on other pests, but they have a poisonous bite that poses a potential danger to children, pets and anyone who touches them. Orange oil is a natural, safe way to kill nuisance centipedes, and it's safe to use around plants. However, if you plan to use orange oil for insect control on plants, dilute 2 ounces of oil in a gallon of water before spraying foliage directly.

What It Is

Orange oil can be extracted when an orange is juiced, and the rind is steamed and pressed. It’s available for purchase where you buy organic cleaning supplies in its pure form, or look for it in formulas that contain its active ingredient, d-limonene. Alternatively, you can make your own, somewhat weaker, formula by boiling 1 cup of orange peels in 1 cup of water. Orange oil is a versatile product that is safe for use around your children and family pets. Plus, you can use it as a surface cleaner on countertops and fixtures around the home.

How It Works

Orange oil eats away at the waxy coating on the centipede’s exoskeleton that holds in moisture. Without that protection, the centipede becomes dehydrated and dies. The oil also works on ants, spiders, roaches, crickets and other insects. Keep in mind that homemade orange oil will not work as quickly or as effectively as those created with the commercial technique.

How to Use It

Spray orange oil around your home’s foundation to keep pesky centipedes from making their way inside. Treat any cracks and crevices inside your home to take care of any centipedes hiding inside. Pay particular attention to baseboard, pipe connection points, and around doors and windows. Spray as needed anytime you see live centipedes in or around the home. Commercial d-limonene extracted from orange oil at full strength can damage painted surfaces and melt plastics. You’ll need to dilute it according to the package label before using it. Pure d-limonene is typically unnecessarily strong for pest control purposes. You’re better off using an orange oil product.

Other Things to Consider

Vacuum frequently to suck up dead centipedes and other victims of your orange oil application. They will be tempting to toddlers who put everything in their mouths, and – let’s be honest – centipedes are not a suitable snack. In addition to using orange oil, you can keep pesticides away from your home by moving piles of wood, stone or compost away from your home’s foundation; rake out old mulch under plants and replace it; and aerate your lawn to reduce thatch that could be an attractive nesting spot for centipedes.

About the Author

A professional writer and editor, Kristi Roddey began freelancing in 1999. She has worked on books, magazines, websites and computer-based training modules, including South Carolina Educational Television's NatureScene Interactive, "Planted Aquaria," "Xtreme RC Cars" and online courses for Education To Go, Inc. Roddey holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of South Carolina.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images