Giant Centipedes in Texas 66

— This article by Jerry Cates et al., first published in September 2002, was last revised on 6 June 2014. © Bugsinthenews Vol. 03:09.


Scolopendridae: giant centipede (Scolopendra heros); dorsum, with lined snake; Temple TX---02 Aug 2002

The giant centipede (Scolopendra heros), also called the giant desert or giant red-headed centipede, is found throughout the southern U.S., particularly in desert regions. It is described in the literature as reaching a maximum length of six to nine inches (15-22 centimeters). Specimens collected in Texas often measure toward the high end of this scale.

The family name, Scolopendridae (from the Greek σκολως “skolos” = “pointed stake, thorn, prickle…”), was first described in 1844 by the U.S. geologist, physician, explorer and author John Strong Newberry (1822-1892). The genus Scolopendra had earlier been described — in 1758 — by the Swedish botanist, zoologist, and taxonomist Carl Linneaus (1707-1778). Finally, the specific name, Scolopendra heros, was later described — in 1853 — by the French biologist Charles Frederic Girard (1822-1895), who besides being born the same year as Newberry, was for a time his close colleague and fellow member of the Megatherium Club at the Smithsonian.

This species of centipede has powerful jaws —  modified front legs, termed maxillipeds — and its venom is known to produce significant pain and swelling that, when combined with infectious organisms acquired in its travels and feeding (this centipede is known to feed on putrefying flesh and fecal matter, and thus is subject to microbial contamination), can produce serious complications. Their bites should, therefore, be considered at least nominally dangerous. It has a cluster of simple eyes (ocelli) on either side of the anterior head. These primitive eye clusters apparently provide no assistance in hunting, as the animal hunts nocturnally and , and are not necessary for the animal to respond to light. When the eyes are covered with opaque paint, no difference is noted in its immediate negative response to bright light stimulus.

Scolopendra heros has six cephalic segments, which are closely fused in the adult, but observable under magnification in the embryo.  A segmented antennae is attached to the anterior portion of the second cephalic segment. This structure is the animal’s primary sensory organ, and is extensively used when hunting for food.

Wherever these animals are found, they favor a habitat that includes an area of moist litter, such as leaves, decaying vegetable matter, and the like. If your home or apartment is troubled with sightings of centipedes, look for small areas of such litter near the foundation of the building, and either remove them yourself or have the property landscaping personnel remove them to reduce the populations of organisms that favor such habitats.

It has 21-23 body segments, consisting of sclerotized tergal plates dorsally, and sternal plates ventrally, which are connected laterally by softer pleural membranes from which erupt the coxal segments of each leg, and on which are found (on some segments, but not on all) open spiracles for respiration. A single pair of legs, each with seven segments (coxa, trochanter, femur, tibia, and 3 tarsi) is attached to each body segment, save the first and last segments. Legs attached to the first body segment are modified into a pair of four-segmented poisonous jaws. The last body segment comprises the anus of the male, and in the female is further modified into a gonopod with a pair of diminutive, articulating ovipositors.  The posterior pair of legs is the longest and most robust, and is modified for grasping.


Scolopendridae: giant centepide (Scolopendra heros); body; Linda R., Leakey, TX---24 Apr 2010

Scolopendridae: giant centepide (Scolopendra heros); body; Linda R., Leakey, TX—24 Apr 2010


Linda wrote:

We just found a centipede almost 5 inches long inside the door of our home in Leakey, TX.

Is this a giant Texas centipede? What can you tell me about it?

It has a red head, dark body, yellow legs, and blue tail/pinchers.

I took pictures if that will help. We are fairly new to this area and have small grandchildren visiting. Thanks.

This centipede measured some 4.75 inches from head to the tip of its terminal segment. The proximal segments of the terminal pair of prehensile appendages were bluish, grading to yellowish distally to the last tarsal segment, which was darkened.

Scolopendridae: giant redheaded centipede (Scolopendra heros); head; Linda R , Leakey, TX---24 April 2010

Scolopendridae: giant redheaded centipede (Scolopendra heros); head; Linda R , Leakey, TX—24 April 2010

Scolopendridae: giant redheaded centipede (Scolopendra heros); posterior; Linda R , Leakey, TX---24 April 2010

Scolopendridae: giant redheaded centipede (Scolopendra heros); posterior; Linda R , Leakey, TX—24 April 2010

The cluster of simple eyes on the right side of Linda’s specimen are visible near the base of the right antenna. The eye cluster shows as a darkened oval slightly depressed into the surface of the head.

The first body segment appears, dorsally, as a narrow bulge just behind the head, and seems to form the forward edge of the second body segment.

Ventrally the first body segment is the base for a pair of large poison jaws, the maxillipeds.

The lateral aspect of the right maxilliped can be seen in the photo, curving around the lower head.

The second body segment forms a broader, reddish collar that extends backward to the first darkened body segment (#3, if you are counting).

Scolopendridae: giant centipede (Scolopendra heros); posterior half; Linda R., Leakey, TX--24 April 2010

Scolopendridae: giant centipede (Scolopendra heros); posterior half; Linda R., Leakey, TX–24 April 2010

Scolopendridae: giant centipede (Scolopendra heros); anterior half; Linda R., Leakey, TX--24 April 2010

Scolopendridae: giant centipede (Scolopendra heros); anterior half; Linda R., Leakey, TX–24 April 2010

This darkened segment still retains some of the reddish hue of the anterior portion of the animal, but beginning with segment 4, just behind it, the dorsal plates (tergites) are uniformly dark.

Segment 4 is relatively long (in the longitudinal aspect of the animal) because it houses the first pair of body spiracles, just posterior to the coxae of the legs of that segment.

From this point through the remainder of the animal’s body, the segments generally alternate between long and short, depending on whether they are provided with spiracles. Notice that segment 5 is short, followed by a longer segment 6, a short segment 7, and a longer segment 8. Segment 9 is the same length as segment 8, as — breaking the pattern — both are fitted with spiracles. Segment 10 is slightly shorter, followed by a remarkably longer segment 11, and a remarkably shorter segment 12 (whose left leg extends upward, in these photos, much further than the other legs on that side of the body).

The photo of the posterior segments shows the diminutive anal segment, showing as a light brown projection beyond the last dark tergite. A pair of bright blue terminal legs, with yellow tarsi divided into three segments (the final one, annotated as T1, being dark brown), emerge from the underside of the last dark segment.


Scolopendridae: giant centipede (Scolopendra heros); head and anterior body; Temple, TX--02 Aug 2002

Scolopendridae: giant centipede (Scolopendra heros); head and anterior body; Temple, TX–02 Aug 2002


The sturdy fellow shown in these pages was kindly collected for me by Kieth R., a friend whose home was at the time ensconced on the shores of a large lake near Temple, Texas. That home was being pestered by centipedes, and I studied this specimen for several months to learn more about its habits. It grew to 8 inches in length within the first few months, feeding on crickets supplied by a local pet store. It died, apparently from natural causes, eight months into the study, but not before wreaking havoc upon the other organisms with whom it shared its enclosure. The photos provided here are from an old file, and are not of excellent quality, but are sufficient to display the features discussed.

These photos were taken shortly after the centipede was introduced to his or her new home (the sex was never determined, though the lack of ovipositing structures on the terminal segment suggests it is a male).

That new home was a terrarium in my lab in Round Rock, containing a floor of coarse bark chips, a large, flat, sunning rock, a hollow driftwood log, and a small pool of drinking and bathing water. Four snakes occupied the same enclosure, and they all seemed- at first- to get along fine.

A second centipede was introduced several weeks later, but was soon killed and partially eaten by another inhabitant of the enclosure (parts of the centipede’s body were found in one corner of the enclosure).

I did not witness this centipede’s death, so can only speculate on the perpetrator. However, I was led — after some analysis — to suspect the first centipede as the culprit. Later, this same centipede killed three of the snakes in the enclosure in quick succession.

Scolopendridae: giant centipede (Scolopendra heros); dorsum, with lined snake; Temple TX---02 Aug 2002

Scolopendridae: giant centipede (Scolopendra heros); dorsum, with lined snake; Temple TX—02 Aug 2002

The first thing this centipede did after being placed in the terrarium was explore every square inch of the enclosure.

Its meanderings were confined to the lower levels only, however, as its legs terminate in sharply pointed tarsi, which render it entirely unable to negotiate smooth vertical glass spanning more than eight inches.

Note that the animal was quite capable of scaling heights as high as the length of its body, using the last pair of legs as a brace to push the rest of the body upward its full length, especially in corners of the enclosure.

That it could not scale smooth surfaces was, of course, a blessing. Still, I had to make sure it was kept in an enclosure whose sides were higher than its body was long.

The top of a sufficiently deep enclosure can generally be left ajar while caring for its other inhabitants without worrying that the centipede will slip out unnoticed. Sometimes, though, the centipede would climb to the top of the driftwood stump in the enclosure, and was able, from that vantage point, to reach the screen-covered lid. There it would explore for a way out for hours.

Giant Centipede (Scolopendra heros), Temple. Texas--ventral midbody

Giant Centipede (Scolopendra heros), Temple. Texas–ventral midbody

For a seemingly complicated, primitive body, the centipede moved very fast (some anatomists refer to its walking legs, for this reason, as “running legs”). You might think that a creature with more than 40 legs, enervated by a primitive nervous system, would be clumsy. But they didn’t hold this centipede down. It zipped around the enclosure at a rapid pace.

The centipede’s body is divided into 21 flat segments. Three of these are colored a caramel brown and are right behind the head. The other eighteen segments are black.

The legs on the trunk, the antennae on the head, and the tips of the legs on the last segment of the body are colored a medium dark yellow.

Notice that each leg is tipped with a sharply pointed terminal segment. Though often referred as one, this is not a true claw, but the third segment of the leg’s three-segmented tarsus. Some sources report that their sharp points damage unprotected skin, and that poison glands are located at the junction of each leg with the body.

When the centipede travels over your skin, the claw may penetrate, and venom may be deposited in the cut, producing local inflammation. Of course, I have not tested this hypothesis, and some investigators dispute it as fanciful fiction…

Giant Centipede (Scolopendra heros), Temple. Texas--leg and claw

Giant Centipede (Scolopendra heros), Temple. Texas–leg and claw

Centipedes are common in central Texas, where they prefer to live outdoors in damp places, under leaves and stones. They are members of the phylum Arthropoda (they have articulating, jointed legs) and the class Chilopoda (from the Greek , cheilos, meaning “lip” or “jaw” and pous, meaning “foot”, in combination meaning “jawwed foot”, a reference to the claws on each leg that have the appearance of teeth). Their jaws, which are connected to venom glands, are used to kill prey. If handled, they are capable of injecting venom, so caution is advised.

If you are pestered by centipedes, inside or outside your home, the first step is to determine why they are there. Next, become informed on least toxic or non-toxic methods available to eliminate them from your home and yard. Those methods should include identifying and correcting conditions conducive to the breeding and congregation of these organisms.

The legs on the first segment behind the head have been modified into hollow tubes, with openings at their sharpened tips, so that they function as fangs. They are attached to venom glands, and are used to kill prey.

Giant Centipede (Scolopendra heros), Temple. Texas--ventral anterior

Giant Centipede (Scolopendra heros), Temple. Texas–ventral anterior

Centipedes of this species reportedly do not attack organisms larger than themselves, including humans, unless molested. Your definition of “molested” may differ from that of the centipede, however. The three small snakes this guy killed probably just happened to get too close at the wrong time.

The centipede’s bite is considered about as serious as a bee sting, but the risk of secondary infection is also important to consider. Because centipedes are opportunistic feeders, and will scavenge dead animals and excrement that it encounters during foraging activities, it may be an efficient reservoir and vector for pathogens that such food sources may contain. Some authorities discount this possibility, however. Texas A&M scientists recommend that centipedes never be handled by humans, to avoid the risk of being bitten.

The photo on the left was taken through the wire mesh of the enclosure lid while the centipede was exploring. Note the fangs on each side of the head, with orange coloration and darkened, nearly black tips. These are the appendages that are used by the centipede to stun and kill its prey.

The body segment the fangs are attached to is thickened, suggesting that its musculature is unusually stout. Once the centipede positions its fangs for an attack, it is able by virtue of these muscles to sink them deeply into the body of its prey, even through a tough cuticle.

Giant Centipede (Scolopendra heros), Temple. Texas--dorsal posterior

Giant Centipede (Scolopendra heros), Temple. Texas–dorsal posterior

iant Centipede (Scolopendra heros), Temple, Texas--ventral posterior

Giant Centipede (Scolopendra heros), Temple, Texas–ventral posterior



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66 thoughts on “Giant Centipedes in Texas

  1. Rebecca Tanamachi Apr 12,2010 8:57 pm

    Just found a centipede at our front door. It is black with a red head and yellow legs. We weren’t sure what kind it was, so we were googling and found your site. A guest squashed it! It sure was pretty, but scary looking too! Thanks!


    Hi, Rebecca. Glad the post helped. Where are you located? City and state will suffice…


  2. vanessa Apr 12,2010 10:52 pm

    I was welcomed by a centipede in my bedroom this evening. El Paso, Tx is where we live and he was about 3 inches long, light brown with black stripes, orange head… needless to say…hes no longer with us. I am wanting to know if these are like roaches…in that, if I see one there are probably many more around. I hope this isn’t the case but if anyone has an answer that would be great. Thanks

    Hi, Vanessa

    The primary indicator of whether or not a particular organism will be seen in or around your home again, after being seen there once, is the micro-environment that exists there. Centipedes need a moist micro-environment to thrive, and they particularly like moist leaf litter, mulch, and the moist undersides of rocks. If those conditions apply, you may have more centipedes nearby that may, under the right conditions, come inside. If not, then this encounter is probably unusual and you may not see another one for a long time.


  3. Vanessa Howe Apr 18,2010 3:22 pm

    Thank you for the info; I found a beauty of a ‘pede at the Alamo Pet and Aquatic store in San Antonio. Apparently this lil’ beastie killed a 4 week old puppy, so the owners of the dog where kind enough not to take nature personal and dropped it off at the store.


    Ms. Howe: Thanks for the comment. Could you take some good photos of your newfound ‘pede for us to see? Include some closeups of the head and tail, if you can. And put something nearby to give an idea of the size of this rascal. Thanks in advance…


  4. Linda Apr 24,2010 6:26 pm

    We just a centipede almost 5 inches long inside the door of our home in Leakey, TX. Is this a giant Texas centipede? What can you tell me about it? It has a red head, dark body, yellow legs, and blue tail/pinchers.I took pictures if that will help. We are fairly new to this area and have small grandchildren visiting. Thanks.

  5. Rob Marley Apr 26,2010 12:22 am

    Just had this guy running through my house today. I live in Austin Texas, right near Lake Travis, so I’ve seen a few of these. This is the third one I’ve had inside the house in about 4 years.

  6. Tyler Apr 28,2010 9:35 am

    I don’t typically have problems with bugs. I am not afraid of spiders, scorpions, snakes or other creatures most people can’t stand. However, I hate centipedes. I HATE them and fear them. The very sight of one somehow enrages and terrifies me simultaneously. I am moving to Texas in 2 months, and the thought of one of these gigantic monsters in my house fills me with dread. My question then, is what is the best way to kill one without having to get close to it? There is no way I’d step on it, for fear of missing and enraging it. I don’t like guns, but the blood freezing beast in these pictures seems like it would very hard to kill without some kind of weapon. I can’t even bear the thought of a centipede that is too large to easily kill getting in my house. (I understand you are an expert on these creatures and probably have some affinity for them, but I need to be prepared right away with whatever equipment the speedy destruction of an 8 inch centipede would demand).

    Also, how common are these beasts? How often can I expect to have to face my own mortality when I get home?

  7. Ryan Apr 29,2010 10:05 am

    Nice article. I would like to add some information to it though if you don’t mind. “Giant Red Headed Centipede” refers only to Scolopendra heros “castaneiceps” which is a central Texas color morph of S. heros. S. heros has a large range and many color forms, and other forms are generally commonly called “Giant Desert Centipede”. To those of you who fear these creatures, please relax a bit. They are relatively rare and avoid humans as best they can. They are very sensitive to vibrations and will flee if given the chance. I collect live scorpions, millipedes, and centipedes for scientists, zoos, collectors, and breeders, and having looked extensively for these in their native habitat, I have yet to see one except at a local pet store!

    Another common local species is Scolopendra polymorpha, or the “Texas Tiger centipede”. These are cream colored, with blue-green lateral stripes going across their segments. They grow to around 4 inches, and are much less defensive than the larger S. heros. They can be easily collected with plastic tupperware and a smooth utensil to gently direct it into tupperware. You can then take it outside where it will help control the populations of nastier bugs you will also find in the area. By killing centipedes, you are doing yourself, and your environment more harm than good. Do you like cockroaches in your house? No? Then take the ‘pedes outside, where they will help control their population! That being said, I understand the fear of these mildly venomous critters. It has taken me a while to become comfortable around them and I still don’t look forward to my first bite! So, if you would like to avoid killing them, and yet don’t want them around your kids or dogs, I’ve got another option for you. I will pick up any S. heros “castineps” and put them to good use. Any that I collect from you will be put towards education or breeding programs. All you need to do is put them in a jar or tupperware, air holes would be nice and give us more time to meet, and a little soil or leaf litter will give them a place to hide. But regardless of whether you can provide air holes and soil, they would prefer to live! You can email me and I can pick them up or meet you at a location of your choosing, just email me at: Thanks, ryan

  8. Ben Apr 30,2010 12:38 am

    Found this specimen around 12:10AM clung to an outdoor overhead ceiling near a large security light. I placed a nickel in the picture as a reference.

  9. Trena Genia Apr 30,2010 9:36 pm

    Someone I work with visits your site quite often and recommended it to me to read as well. The writing style is great and the content is interesting. Thanks for the insight you provide the readers!

  10. Reggie Cowart May 1,2010 8:53 pm

    Wow! I just found one of these SOB’s in my living room, creeped the S**t out of me. I live in Lakeway Texas. My dog is the one that found it started barking and her hair stood up, she never does this, I got up to look and she protected me and kept gettng between me and the pede. I ended up catching it and have it alive in a wine bottle. I have a 9 month old baby girl that is usually playing on the floor right where I found it. This one is about 8 inches long and strong as hell I could barely hold it down with a screw driver it would just crawl right out from under it, I was tring not to put too much force so as not to kill it, it had almost a rubbery fell to it, not that I touched it but just the felling through the screw driver. This thing was so big I thought it was fake until it moved, I have live in Texas my whole life and never seen one of these. I have pictures if you tell me where to send them.

  11. admin May 2,2010 8:21 am


    Send the pictures to Send them at full resolution, as file attachments, for best results. That way I can enlarge them to show anatomical features.


  12. hubbabubba May 3,2010 7:34 pm

    Around how many eggs do the centipedes lay in their whole entire life?

  13. Leah Adams May 12,2010 8:05 pm

    I saw one of these guys on my hike out at Georgetown Lake. I was at the Good Water Trailhead in Cedar Breaks Park. Quick sucker! He/she almost got on my boot before I noticed it. Luckily I dodged! I got a picture of him and will email it shortly. It’s on my camera phone, so it’s pretty basic. He has right at the longest range of their length, about 8 or 9 inches. He was very robust and looked very healthy!

  14. Wilbur Noland May 12,2010 10:22 pm

    This 8″+ SOB was being slapped by my cat on my living room floor until I stepped in. I finished it off before putting it in a plastic bag in another plastic bag in the trash. I’ve been reading on this site and like Tyler, I’m both enraged & terrified. After retirement we lived & traveled in our motorhome for 13
    years before buying this house 3 months ago in Graham, TX, about 75 miles west of Ft. Worth. I killed a copperheaed in my back yard & that didn’t get me going anything like this. I hate snakes, but these things are so fierce looking & seeing it IN the house… I was raised on a farm in OK &
    dealt with all kinds of critters & situations, but this damn thing is of another category. I was assembling a weed trimmer from WalMart & when I saw this thing it was a few feet away from the box so there’s a good chance it had been in there. My cat was disappointed that I wouldn’t let him have
    it. My wife is in the hospital, which has put me both on edge & dead tired, but I’m not sure I can sleep tonight. Where do you answer the questions from the website? I didn’t see a reply about that. I really would like some answers if you can. Can/will these things get up in bed covers? Can they
    climb vertically? What has brought it in our house? Can an exterminator treat a house to keep them away? Do they come in pairs? Nests? Can I expect more? What time of year do they lay eggs? Our 2 cats are inside only, but I’m almost afraid to let them loose in the house. If one killed a 4 month
    old puppy…?
    Thanks for doing this.



    Sorry to hear your wife is in the hospital. We’ll keep her in our prayers.

    Thanks for the photo. These guys like moist litter, especially leaf litter or heavy, moist mulch. If you have anything like that around the perimeter of your home, consider removing it to reduce the harborage for this critter. In the process you will significantly reduce the encounters you have with these big centipedes. I’m developing a granular habitat modifier, based on essential plant oils, that changes the microhabitat so that it stops attracting and nurturing insects and other organisms. Since centipedes cannot find prey in such places, they go elsewhere. I’ll post more about this as testing results come in.


  15. Nancy May 15,2010 10:21 pm

    My friend and I caught one of these centipedes in her yard in San Antonio. I gave it to my daughter who was an entomology student at Texas A & M at the time. She loved it, named it Cleopatra, and took it back to her dorm room in an old aquarium with screen top. We put in about 3 inches of soil and small branches, as well as a small live plant, with a little water cup buried in the soil. It did well on crickets but it scared her roommate to death! So of course I had to adopt it. I put it on a little table in a corner of my kitchen and it lived over a year. I fed it crickets. At first it hid in the soil but then got used to me and spent a lot of time climbing its plant. It was amazing to see how fast that thing moved when it snapped at crickets! It stood up really tall, with only about an inch of its body on the ground; it was about 8 inches long. It snapped at my hand several times when I was putting crickets in but it never quite got me! My friends thought I was nuts but I actually became fond of it; it was fascinating to watch. I was sad when it died. It made a very cool pet.

  16. gwugluud barcher May 17,2010 9:59 am

    One of those giant centipedes was present in the sink of a rental cabin located at Lake Brownwood State Park in central TX. It was incredibly long; about 8 inches. I was going to try to put it outside with a dustpan, but it thrashed around and I gave up. I hate to admit it, but the thing freaked me out and I turned against it after trying to help it. I squirted it with wasp killer, which will drop a wasp dead instantly on contact.
    My God, these centipedes are TOUGH. It was still alive an hour later and it took that long for it to begin succumbing to the poison. A couple of hours later I checked the sink and it had stopped moving. When I picked it up with the dustpan I noticed it was barely alive.
    I went out back and tossed it into our campfire. I SURE HOPE this was just my imagination, or that it was just a normal sound of maybe a piece of moist wood burning at the same time this happened or something, but I could SWEAR I heard a high-pitched shriek! As if I wasn’t already feeling guilty enough…
    Arthropods don’t have vocal cords, so that CAN’T have been what that was! Was it??


    You ask an interesting question. I’ve kept large centipedes in vivariums for years without ever hearing any sounds of any kind from them. They have no means of producing noise to my knowledge. However, when you throw one into a campfire the hardened cuticle of the body would tend to channel the body’s juices to a restricted set of orifices that, while ejecting steam, would make the sound you describe.

    This was the centipede’s revenge, I suppose, for your “dastardly” deed. For an interesting read on centipede biology, peruse the material at that was written by my good (now late) friend Robert G. Breene III. Spider Bob, as he was called, knew a lot about centipedes and similar critters, and you will probably find his writing on this subject interesting. He passed away last October.


  17. Melinda Painter May 21,2010 10:20 am

    Just found an 8 inch centipede in our son’s room this morning. Had him cornered under a trash can….those things are FAST! Well I called for an emergency housecall from our bug guy and left him back there under the trash can. When the bug man arrived he wasn’t under the trashcan!! I immediately began to scream because with his speed wasn’t certain where he went. Bug guy luckily found him under the bed and then the chance began. We finally captured him in the trashcan and the bug guy is taking him to his expert. He had never seen anything like it. I took a picture. I’m scared to death there are more in my house. He sprayed some stuff around but I’m still scared!!!!!

  18. Tom Isaacks May 21,2010 2:54 pm

    I work at Home Depot in Georgetown ,Tx. We are really into customer service. I saw a croud of people gathered near the plumbing isle, who appeared to need help. Wow, I was amazed to find they were gathering for the new horror show (Now Playing)going across the floor. This thing was amazing and truly drew a crowd. When you never ever seen one your heart will race. I am at home now with my new creature. I have read all the credits and Mr Scolopendra Heros is due alot of RESPECT! Thanks for the great article! Got to run, Its Picture Time…. by the way its seven plus (minitues) long. Tom

  19. Stephen May 31,2010 10:29 pm

    My roommate and I encountered one of these giant centipedes (Scolopendra heros)in our bathroom this morning in Eagle Pass, Texas. It was huge, about 9 inches. I hate to admit that we killed it as we didn’t have much knowledge about it at the time. Everything that I’ve read about them on this website and others seems consistent with our brief experience. I wanted to ask you about its demise, if you don’t mind answering. I know you seem to harbor an appreciation for the animal and I’m not trying to be insipient by telling you about how we killed it.

    Anyway, when we tried to catch it, it took off with immense speed. When we took a knife to it, I severed the head. To our dismay, the body kept on moving frantically and wouldn’t stop moving for at least 5 minutes. The head and antennae were still actively moving as well. After awhile I severed the body in the middle and the back legs (which I thought was poisonous at the time). Still, the centipede continued to move with great energy (all segments). At one point, the severed body picked up its head and appeared to try and reattach it. After a total of about 10 minutes, I scooped all continually moving sections into a piece of tupperware and stomped on it until it finally perished.

    Again, I am sorry for the detail of the story and the manner in which we disposed of it. We didn’t want to kill it like that, but we were just too creeped out to act rationally (I guess). Are you familiar with the regeneration capabilities or the ability to live with grievous, bodily damage of this insect? Also, what is the best way to keep them from coming back? Thank you for whatever advice you may be able to give.

  20. Brent Gruesbec Jun 1,2010 11:23 pm

    Went on vacation last week in Lubbock Texas. When riding motorycles in back country North West of Lubbock about 50 miles I saw a huge centipede. It had unfortunately been run over by another bike in front of me and was writhing around for a while. It was all pale yellow/tan color except the black looking prehensile legs. I did not know what it was just knew it looked like a huge centipede and used Ask to find this site under “giant texas desert centipede. Very large, looked like a foot but had no way of knowing exactly how big.

  21. Tiffany Jun 7,2010 3:38 pm

    I found a centipede moving very fast in my yard I have heard og them being around but never seen one before, untill now it had a black head and tail and the rest of it was a yellow color. I hit it with something so it wound stop running towards my kids then took a pic of it. I live in payson az.

  22. Chris Jun 21,2010 2:37 am

    Just got “bit”, “stung” not sure of the terminology when I must have “molested” the thing. Was under a box in the garage and hit me on the foot. Very painful I can definitely confirm. Very large, about 8inches. Was difficult to kill (wanted to make sure we had specimen in case of infection/poison, we didn’t know what it was at the time).


    Editor’s Note: Centipedes in the genus Scolopendra are rather easily molested, especially when found in the wild. Some old-hand centipede handlers report that domesticated ones can be handled without being bitten, but these animals are pretty primitive, and judging from the way they treat each other one gets the impression that they don’t make friends, even with their human handlers.

    Please get back with a report on the way the bite develops. If it gets infected, the size and duration of the wound, etc., including if you would, photos of the wound.



  23. Lee Anne Jun 22,2010 11:04 am

    I just found a nest of these “babies” under a trash can right next to the poisonous mushroom I found living in a bunch of leaf mold. We have seen these since we moved into our house in Lago Vista for almost 11 years. I didn’t know they came inside. We just got a new puppy and she would totally eat it! Good to know. Now, I know why we don’t have roaches! I really don’t want to meet the mama! We had a baby rattle snake in the garage and I don’t want to meet the mama on that one either. Anyway, the last really big one was about 9″ long and just really pretty-that was 10 years ago-I know, it’s the zoologist in me, but I was weed eating and then it just disappeared. No, killing. So, nice to know all of the info. Will not be collecting them though.

  24. Beverly Jun 25,2010 10:47 am

    I just found one of these centipedes by my house in Boerne. It has a red head, black body and yellow/orangish legs. It’s appearance is striking with the bright colors. I really appreciate you educating everyone that these are beneficial insects and that they eat roaches. Since I don’t like roaches, I will release him back in the woods behind my house.

  25. Steven Jun 26,2010 10:32 pm

    We apparetly have them in Fredericksburg TX

  26. Joanne Jul 3,2010 5:36 pm

    Just encountered one of these in my chicken coop. It was about 6″ long and in one of the top nest boxes. I hope it does no harm to my chickens as I was unable to kill it. I use diatomaceous earth in my coop but apparently that does not bother it.

  27. Joanne Jul 3,2010 5:38 pm

    Forgot to say I am in Kerrville!

  28. Deborah Jul 4,2010 11:15 am

    I was in my study two nights ago with the lights off when I felt something touch my small toe. I jerked my foot really quick and rolled my chair to the light switch. Turns out it was a centipede about 8″ in length, the body looks dark green maybe black, with red head and yellow legs. My heart was racing and my hair on my arms stood up. It was really creepy…! My feet we up on the legs of the chair in fear of a scorpion but instead was surprised by another creepy crawler. This is not the first I have found in this home. We built this house going on four years this October 2010, in Garden Ridge TX on the outskirts of San Antonio. Most have been found dead due to having our house sprayed everything 3 months. My question is how much damage can it do to a human if we get bit? We have a 9 year old son and we have a tendency of walking barefoot in the house. Should we seek medical help if that should occur? Thanks so much.

  29. Linda Lambert Jul 5,2010 5:45 pm

    Phew! We, too, seem to have a centipede problem. We live in Fair Oaks Ranch, just outside of San Antonio. We have found 3 this summer, 2 in the house and we just fished the third one out of the pool. It was the largest measuring 8″ and must not have been in the pool long, as it was in “mint” condition except for being dead. I did capture one in our office that was 6″ and very alive. The first one was about 6″, but must have been dead for awhile. It was on the second floor in a guest’s bedroom.

    Questions? How long does it take for them to get to be 6″ long? Would they have been nesting in our house? What can we do about them? We spray frequently. We do find other bugs, dead, killed by the spray. Our house is very dry and cool. Not a likely place for this critter to be. Does anyone know what would cause them to be in our house and how can we get rid of them? I would appreciate any ideas. Thanks!

    I will email some photos to your email address.

  30. Gil D. Jul 7,2010 11:00 am


    I had one crawl accross my stomach a few weeks ago. I brushed it off and it crawled away quickly into the rocks. My wife came accross it today and snapped a couple of photos. Let me know if you would like me to forward the photo. I’m glad it didn’t hurt me.

  31. Sean P Jul 10,2010 4:36 pm

    About a year ago I was in Steiner Ranch Texas at a pool for a swim meet when i saw a giant centipede. I recognized it because of biology class. Anyway the thing was between 1 and 2 feet long. I promise i’ve never been one to say something is bigger than it actually is. I told an adult it was dangerous to have around all the kids because of its size and poison. (I was 17 at the time) He tried to step on it and it wiggled like a worm when you pick it up. It then went into a space between some bricks and the side of a small hill. The centipede was about 3 times as long as the guys foot. I could tell when he tried to step on it.

  32. Jessica Witman Jul 11,2010 6:36 pm

    I found a centipede at my work. I almost stepped on it, but I have an odd fascination with critters! So I put it in a plastic cup with a lid, added some rocks, water, and grass, and fed it ants for about 2 weeks. However, I was wondering if you could help me identify the type of centipede that it is. I asked the pest control guy that comes to my work, and he said he’s never seen one, that they aren’t from our area, and that (of course) I needed to kill it! I have decided to keep it as a pet and it is now living in a glass fishbowl.
    It is grey/black, has pale yellow legs, and green antennae. The only pics or descriptions online I have been able to find that are even close, are the S. Heros that are talked about on here, and something called “large centipede” that I found on Google. It is about 2 1/2 inches long right now, and seems to like the water. It sits usually around the bottom of the rocks in the bowl right where the water line is. Not sure if it is a baby, or if it is just a type I have yet to come across. Would be grateful for any info you would be willing to provide.
    I would love to send a pic with this, but unfortunately, my husband hates bugs and will not, under any circumstances, let me get it out of the bowl!!

  33. Jessica Witman Jul 11,2010 6:37 pm

    Oh, I am in Southwest Missouri. But we get a lot of delivery trucks that come from Southern Texas. Not sure if this will help or not.

  34. kristenrenae Jul 30,2010 4:31 pm

    I live in Austin, Texas. I’ve been having quite a millipede infestation at my apartment lately (approximately two months), killing about 4-6/day on average. Most of them are found in the bathroom and adjoining bedroom. I just found a fast-moving black centipede with red legs and a red head in my bathroom. Its back antennae were black and the front ones were red. I’ve never seen one of these before. It was probably a little over two inches long. When I squashed it, it squirted a blue fluid and its red appendages immediately turned blue. I’m just wondering what kind of centipede it was and if the blue liquid was some sort of venom.

  35. mmmcshan Aug 1,2010 9:13 pm

    I found a Giant Centipede this evening crawling on the side of my house. I measured it at a little over 8″! I live in Driftwood, TX. It looked like a prehistoric creature with inimidating coloring, size and movement (all the legs moving in a wave like motion). I didn’t know what type of centiped it was until I found your site. Your information is great! thanks! – Matt

  36. milamcc Sep 6,2010 10:34 pm

    OMG – I live in Austin on Lake Travis. I was sleeping last night and about 3 in the morning I felt something bite/sting me on my arm. My arm was under my pillow and I was half asleep, so I reached under my pillow and felt my arm and felt “something” there so I grabbed it (while still half asleep) and kind of just pushed it away. It felt like a leaf. Then all of the sudden I woke up and turned on the light thinking – why would a leaf be in my bed? When I turned on the light I saw the centipede. It was just a black one, about 2 inches long. I screamed and my husband immediately woke up. I told him to “GET IT!” He went to get tissue while I kept it in the middle of my bed by scooting it with the remote control – that thing was so fast and trying very hard to get away! He got it with the tissue and flushed it down the toilet. Meanwhile my heart is racing – I looked at my arm where it bit me and didn’t see anything. It wasn’t too painful but enough to wake me up. So, I go to lay back down and there is ANOTHER ONE!!! My husband got that one too! At this point – I’m thoroughly freaked out and do not want to sleep in my bed anymore! I get up and go to the couch – get my iPhone and look up this centipede and come across your site.

    I ended up sleeping on the couch – although I felt stuff crawling all over me all night.

    So – why were they in my bed? I’ve never even seen them in my house before. In June we saw millipedes everywhere – but never a centipede and NEVER IN MY BED! I have seen so many creepy bugs since moving into this house. After reading this site I am very happy it wasn’t a giany red headed centipede – I would faint!

    Are there more in my house? I’m a little freaked to be in my bed tonight. Ugh – I’m sure I’ll have nightmares all night. So gross!

    Totally freaked out – Mila

  37. dirk Oct 5,2010 6:50 am

    I am from Belgium and came to this site after reading the news that an escaped centipede is causing panic in Germany. My wife found one crawling in a corner of our room at Indian Lodge in the Davis Mountain State Park, Texas, last year. The critter was huge and very versatile. When my wife started screaming I put on my running shoes and tried to crush the animal. It seemed like rubber and kind of bounced back. Finally we could chase it through the door (meanwhile paying attention that no tarantula would sneak in). The locals told us that these centipedes live in drainage pipes, so we stuffed all the holes in the bedroom, needless to say, we did not sleep very deeply after this.


    Editor’s Note: The Davis Mountain State Park is a beautiful place, and it is too bad a centipede (and evidently some tarantulas as well) caused the experience to lose some of its luster for this couple.

    Fortunately, these centipedes aren’t attracted to humans (they try to avoid being in the presence of large animals, including humans) and–in general–only bite if picked up and handled roughly.

    For those who may take that last comment as license to pick up a Scolopendra centipede, it should be added that these organisms are also known to bite handlers for no reason at all, usually after being handled for a period of time without any signs of hostility.


    Dirk’s reply: Thank you for this clarification Jerry. Coming from a region where a wasp must be the most threatening insect our encounter with the centipede was somehow a shocking experience. But don’t worry, we still enjoyed the Park which is indeed a beautiful place.

    Regards, Dirk


    Editor’s Response: That’s good, Dirk. We want to see you and your wife back in Texas one of these days soon.

  38. texaslaura34 Apr 23,2011 3:46 pm

    We just adopted a giant centipede caught by a friend. We named him Oscar. He(?) is in a new 10 gallon aquarium. The first thing he did when let out of the little cup he was in for a few days was to eat 3 crickets. We shall see how he fairs. Joins the Trisha, the Texas Brown Tarantula, 3 Beta fish, Nicoli, Napolean, and Cornwallis, Dusty the cat, Lucky, Minnie and Pixie the mini-collie’s. Plus my hubby and 3 sons. Wish me luck. If Oscar gets out of that cage don’t know what I will do!!
    Best regards,

  39. rzdrumdrum Jul 18,2011 3:11 pm

    I had to fish-out two giant‑red headed Scolopendridaes out of my girl friend’s swimming pool. They appeared to be dead. Each measured approximately 11-12 inches long. She stated, “those monsters once came in the house!” Never seeing one before and not knowing anything about them until I found this website; I used her swimming pool net/scoop to fling them over the back fence into an open field. I’ll admit they are kinda creepy looking, especially since I’ve never seen anything like them before! There must be a nest of them back behind her house! FYI… Fort Hood, Texas.

  40. crissa Apr 6,2012 4:49 pm

    I’ve lived in a rural house with septic in New Mexico for 2 years. So far I’ve had 5 Texas redhead giants in my bathroom. Twice I’ve seen them actually emerge from the drain, the other three were in the vicinity of the bathtub. I am very phobic about bugs, so this has made me very unhappy, but I don’t kill them. With four of them I put an Oxi-Clean bucket over them and slid the lid underneath, ran outside and flung the bucket. They’d better have eaten up a few other pests to make up for scaring me! But the 5th time was the worst, after I showered I took my towel off the hook on the wall, and I swear I heard a sort of clicking noise…it was nestled in the folds of the towel. I shudder to think of what might have happened.
    Now I keep the drains closed up tight, but I know one day when I’m showering one is going to come up…
    My questions are – are they living in the septic, and can I do anything to prevent them coming up the drain? It makes no sense to me that if they seek moisture why they are leaving the septic to come into the house? If they live in the septic, how do they know there is an opening all the way at the other end of the pipe? And why would they think there are bugs to eat in the house? I really don’t have any other bugs in the house, the occasional beetle, which also comes up the drain.
    And if they DON’T live in the septic, how are they getting into the drain? The drain pipe is quite shallow, and if there was an opening in it, I think I’d see a leak. Unless it’s under the house…

  41. keithw May 3,2012 7:51 pm

    I live in Southwest Oklahoma and just came in from the field checking cows. I kicked back in my easy chair and just a few minutes ago I felt something crawling on my leg inside my pants. I thought it was a tick and when I pulled my pants down (yes, you know what’s coming!), one of these red headed devils was IN MY PANTS!! I have no idea how it got there unless it hitchhiked in from the field. I don’t believe he bit me as there is no pain but it sure creeped me out!
    Last summer I spent three days in the hospital after being bitten by a brown recluse that was also hiding in my pants when I put them on. I like animals but this is getting a little ridiculous!

  42. Melissa98j Mar 31,2013 10:19 pm

    I saw what I believe was a centipede outside my home in Temple, tx, but am not sure… I got a couple pictures… Could you help me verify?

  43. Matthew Apr 27,2013 12:36 pm

    Found one in my house and killed it. I measured its remains and it was 12 inches long without its head. That is the second one I have found around that size near my house though most Ive seen are around half that size.

  44. Emily Jun 22,2013 10:17 am

    Hi, i have a concern, i found a centipede similar to these here already dead on my bed. Its only about an inch long though. Could it be a baby? My other concern is that most of these were found in the Texas area, but i live in Virginia. Do you have any idea what it is?



    Centipedes are widespread in North America. They are not as common in Virginia, and the climate there may limit the size they attain at maturity, which will lead to fewer sightings.


  45. Ross Jun 29,2013 11:08 pm

    We found a large centipede at are home in Georgetown. Would like to send you pix. What email address would you like them sent to?

  46. Bryce Forsyth Jul 1,2013 9:52 am

    I just went out side to bring the trash (can) to the street moved it from the side of the building and accidentally revealed a 6 or 7 inch long centipede just seconds before I went running inside.
    Body-light brown
    Legs-dark brown
    Crease in center

  47. Nancy Jul 8,2013 12:22 am

    Found one on the top of our garage ceiling. .yikes!

  48. B.R. Kelso Jul 10,2013 7:31 am

    Found one in my elderly mother’s house near Glen Rose, Texas yesterday. Red head, yellow legs, about 4″ long. It was aggressive. Killed it the easy way with scissors. Cut it in 4 pieces; all 4 pieces continued to writhe as if independently alive. Used the scissors to gently pick up each piece and flush the thing. Called the exterminator.

  49. Phil Jul 14,2013 5:06 am

    I caught a Texas Giant Centipede this morning. It is just over 6 inches long. I’ve put it in a cage I keep for my daughter when she catches bugs or reptiles or snakes. Currently there is a medium wolf spider and some meal worm beetles. I’ll get a few crickets tomorrow. My question is will only crickets suffice, or could I use minnows in the water dish? Would the centipede eat the minnows? Thanks for the previous info.

  50. Emily2 Jul 18,2013 2:02 pm

    Saw one running across the road in front of my house! Had NO IDEA what it was! I chopped its head off and it wiggled around for a while using its legs to find its head that was barely still attached. I figured I’d better come look it up to make sure it wasn’t protected before I posted pics on Facebook! We’ve had a few days of good steady rain and I guess he was headed to the neighbor’s house to hide. GHASTLY looking thing! I wish I would have read this BEFORE my encounter and tried putting it in some kind of container to donate to a zoo, but I had a 2-month-old baby strapped to me and didn’t want to take any unhealthy chances. I’ll know what to do NEXT time! 😉

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