The scientific name for giant desert centipede is Scolopendra heros. They are also known as the Texas redhead centipede. On average, they are about 6.5 inches in length but some can be up to 9 inches long. Although color variations are common, the head along with the first two body segments have various shades of red while the rest of the segments are black with traces of green. The giant desert centipedes have 20 pairs of yellow legs. They also have a set of black rear legs which they use to grasp, hold prey and inject them with venom. On each side of the head, there have four individual ocelli.
The giant desert centipede typically enjoys staying outside in protected areas mostly on rotten logs or under stones. They are commonly found in rocky woodlands where it’s easy to find moisture to keep their bodies cool. During the high temperatures in summer, these pests escape the intolerable heat and enter homes and buildings. These pests have been located in places like Arkansas, Louisiana, Southern Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Northern Mexico, and Texas.
Are Giant Desert Centipedes Dangerous?
Although the giant desert centipedes have a relatively huge size and frightening look, their nuisance comes from their defense mechanisms. They secrete and inject venom through pincers which are modified legs found on their body. When these pincers inject venom, it causes pain for someone who has been stung. When bitten, some people may experience symptoms like nausea, headache, vomiting or allergic reactions.
Given that these pests spend little time in the open, it is rare to spot them in large numbers. However, you can find a few of them in a garden or a basement, which may signal that more could be present within the area.
The giant desert centipedes preys on small insects and arthropods just like other centipedes.They have an exceptional body that allows them to hunt and feed on larger organisms such as:
- Small snakes
- Toads and frogs
- Other vertebrates
They use their pincers and venom to subdue their prey before consuming them. When placed under captivity, giant desert centipedes can exclusively rely on moths.
They have a lifespan of between one and six years although their longevity depends on several factors.
A giant female desert centipede has the ability to lay about 15 to 60 eggs during summer. These eggs are commonly found between cavities of rotten wood. Mothers have to closely watch their eggs to protect them against predators and the growth of fungus. The eggs hatch after about two months, producing offspring that are similar to smaller versions of their parents.
How to Prevent Giant Desert Centipede
To control or prevent giant desert centipedes, a combination of chemical treatments and exclusion techniques are necessary. Such tactics include:
- Eliminating their habitats in your home by getting rid of firewood, compost piles, and tree logs.
- Substituting moisture-prone mulch for stone or gravel.
- Thoroughly ventilate crawl spaces and other moist areas to diminish humidity
- Seal foundation gaps and cracks
- Fix damaged weather stripping
Giant desert centipedes are not dangerous despite their large size and their scary appearance. Their defense mechanism makes them appear hazardous. Symptoms from their bites are mild and may include nausea, vomiting, headache, and allergic reactions. The pests, which enjoy inhabiting moist places, can be controlled using chemical treatments and exclusion techniques. If you feel overwhelmed with the presence of this creature. Call your local pest controller for effective extermination.