Giant Desert Centipedes

Facts, Identification & Control

Scientific Name

Scolopendra heros


What Do Giant Desert Centipedes Look Like?

  • Size: About 6.5 inches long on average and ranging up to 8 or 9 inches long.
  • Color: The head and first two body segments are various shades of red. The other body segments are black with traces of green, although color variations are common.
  • Body: These centipedes have 20 pairs of yellow legs with a set of black rear legs used to grasp, hold prey and inject venom. They have four individual ocelli on each side of the head.

How Did I Get Giant Desert Centipedes?

These pests, also known as the Texas redheaded centipede, typically stay outside in protected areas under stones and rotten logs.

What Attracts Them?
The centipedes seek out moisture to keep cool. During the summer, when temperatures begin to rise, they may enter buildings to escape the heat.

How Serious Are Giant Desert Centipedes?

Despite the pests’ large size and menacing look, their defense tactics are what really make them a nuisance. They produce and inject venom via pincers that are modified legs located on their body. These pincers are used to inject venom, which will cause pain for someone that is stung. For some people, venom can also lead to headaches, nausea, vomiting and/or allergic reactions.

Signs of Infestation

Since a giant desert centipede spends little time in the open, seeing large numbers of them is rare. However, finding a few of them in a basement or garden may be a sign that more are present somewhere close by.

How Do I Get Rid of Giant Desert Centipedes?

What Orkin Does
Your local Orkin technician is trained to help manage giant desert centipedes and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep giant desert centipedes in their place…out of your home, or business.

Behavior, Diet, & Habits

Where Do They Live?
Despite their name, giant desert centipedes are most often collected from rocky woodlands.

Geographic Range
They have been located in Arkansas, Southern Missouri, Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Northern Mexico.

How Long Do Giant Desert Centipedes Live?
While many factors impact longevity, the normal lifespan of this pest is one to six years.

When Are They Most Active?
Giant desert centipedes are active during the day and night.

What Do Giant Desert Centipedes Eat?
Like other centipede species, giant desert centipedes feed on small insects and arthropods. Their exceptional size also allows them to pursue and feed upon larger prey such as:

  • Toads
  • Small snakes
  • Other vertebrates

Using their pincers and venom, they subdue their prey before feeding. In captivity, giant desert centipedes can subsist on moths alone.

Life Cycle

During the summer, a female giant desert centipede lays 15 to 60 eggs in the cavities of rotten wood. Mothers watch over their eggs, protecting them from predators and the growth of fungus. After about two months, eggs hatch into offspring that resemble smaller versions of the adults.

Prevention Tips

Giant desert centipede control may require a combination of chemical treatments and exclusion methods. Techniques include:

  • Reducing centipede habitats near homes by moving or removing compost piles, firewood, and fallen logs.
  • Replacing moisture-prone mulch with gravel or stone.
  • Sealing foundation cracks and gaps, as well as fixing damaged weather stripping.
  • Ventilating crawl spaces and other moist spaces to reduce humidity.
  • Contacting professionals to apply insecticides around possible entryways.