Texas Redheaded Centipedes

Scientific Name:

Scolopendra heros

Appearance

Texas redheaded centipedes, also known as giant desert centipedes, are very large, averaging about 6.5 inches long, but range in size up to 8 or 9 inches long. The head and first two body segments are various shades of red and the other body segments are black with traces of green. The centipede’s head segment has two antennae, and the body has 21 pairs of legs. The first 20 pairs of legs are yellow, while the last pair are black and longer that the others. This bright coloration is very effective at warning a potential predator of the dangers that may ensue when dealing with this centipede.

Texas redheaded centipedes live in the American Southwest, parts of the South and Midwest, and northern Mexico.

Behavior, Diet & Habitat

Longevity depends on many factors, but the normal life span of this centipede is 1-6 years. Their preferred habitat is primarily protected areas under stones, rotted logs, leaves or bark and where there is suitable moisture. During the hot, drier summer months, these centipedes are sometimes seen inside structures as they are seeking a more hospitable habitat. However, more frequently they are seen outdoors on porches, sidewalks or in gardens.

Texas redheaded centipedes are primarily predators that consume insects and other Arthropods. Their prey is seized using the first pair of legs and stunned or killed as venom is injected through the poison claws at the end of the legs. Obviously, one should never handle a Texas redheaded centipede since they can not only bite with the poison fangs under their head, but also can inject venom from their “walking legs” located on its other body segments. Although uncommon, when people are “bitten”, there is a sharp, localized pain that progressively subsides, producing localized swelling. However, if someone that is bitten has insect allergies, their symptoms may be more severe. Therefore, if a Texas redheaded centipede bites someone they should seek the care and advice of a medical professional.

Reproduction

These centipedes spend the winter months as adults. The females begin laying 15-60 eggs in the warmer months of the year. The female constructs a nest in the soil for the eggs and coils around them for protection from would-be predators. The females are very protective of their eggs – frequently cleaning them and removing microorganisms that might harm the eggs. After about a two-month incubation period, the eggs hatch producing small offspring that look much like miniature versions of the adults.

Sign Of An Infestation

Since Texas redheaded centipedes usually spend very little time in the open, a visible occurrence of large numbers are rare. However, an appearance of this critter is a good warning sign that it is time to contact your pest management professional for assistance and recommendations for developing a centipede management plan.

More Information

Controlling the Texas redheaded centipede may require both chemical and non-chemical means. Some effective control methods include:

  • Reducing centipede habitat and preventing entry into homes by keeping compost piles, firewood, rock piles or fallen logs away from the home or removing them entirely.
  • Rather than using thick mulch beds, place a 12-24 inch band of gravel or stone around the perimeter of the home. If mulch is preferred, rake the mulch bed every 4-6 weeks to allow it to dry out.
  • Sealing any holes, crack or gaps in the foundation wall and repair or replace any damaged weather stripping.
  • Since centipedes need moisture, ventilate crawl spaces and use dehumidifiers to enable airflow and reduce humidity.
  • If necessary, your pest management professional may use a chemical product spray or dust around the foundation or other locations that centipedes may use to venture inside.
  • If centipedes are seen inside, your pest management professional may use approved, registered chemical products in places such as cracks and crevices, wall voids or other hidden, sheltered places that centipedes may occupy.