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House Centipede by Bruce Martin, via Wikimedia


Giant Centipede Scolopendra heros in Oklahoma, by Frank Boston, Wikimedia, CC BY 2.0


Common name: House Centipede, Centipede


Scientific name: Class Chilopoda, Order Scutigeromorpha (and others), Scutigera coleoptrata and several other species 


Body length: Adult—1/4" to 1 1/2" (House centipedes) and up to 9" (subphylum Myriapoda, redheaded centipede).


Identification: These close relatives of insects have thirty legs or more (one per body segment) and range in color from reddish brown to white. House centipedes have extremely long legs extending out all around the body. Both types of centipede have venom that is irritating to humans but not deadly. You will see several names used interchangeably: Texas redheaded centipede, Texas giant centipede, and Texas red centipede, but they all refer to the same species of centipede. More about the two types of centipede.


Biology and life cycle: Incomplete metamorphosis. Eggs are laid in the soil; the resulting nymphs are similar to the adults but shorter and with fewer segments.


Habitat: House centipede is native to the Mediterranean region, introduced around the world. Indoors and outdoors. Redheaded centipedes live in moist, protected places, especially around decaying organic matter—under logs, stones, leaves, bark, and in compost piles, buildings, and basements.


Feeding habits: Feed on small insects, including roaches, clothes moths, and house flies, and sometimes plant roots. House centipedes are predaceous; garden centipedes eat plant roots.


Natural control: Insectivorous animals.


Organic control: None needed. They are actually beneficial. If house centipedes become a nuisance indoors, vacuum them up. 


Economic importance: The larger colorful centipedes have a bite about as powerful as a bee sting, but a bite is rare. House centipedes can rarely break the skin. The large centipedes feed on slugs, grubs, worms; house centipedes eat spiders, cockroaches, ants, and flies, and are considered beneficial around the house. 


Insight: The long-legged house centipedes move very rapidly and grow to about 1.25". The large, brightly colored redheaded centipedes grow to 8 inches or longer and can inflict a painful bite. We have found them floating in water puddles after rains on top of Enchanted Rock near Fredericksburg. Millipedes look similar but have two legs per segment and do not have a dangerous bite.


For more about the large variety of centipedes in Texas visit Bird Watching HQ.





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