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Giant Desert Centipede Facts & Information

Protect your home or business from giant desert centipedes by learning techniques for identification and control.

Giant Desert Centipede Illustration
Scolopendra heros
6.5 to 9 inches
Black & green body
Red head
20 pairs of yellow legs
4 ocelli


How do I get rid of giant desert centipedes?

What Orkin Does

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

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

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Frequently Asked Questions

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding Giant Desert Centipedes


  • 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.


Despite their name, giant desert centipedes are most often collected from rocky woodlands. They have been located in Arkansas, Southern Missouri, Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Northern Mexico.


While many factors impact longevity, the normal lifespan of this pest is one to six years.


Giant desert centipedes are active during the day and night.


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 & Reproduction

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.

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