Giant Desert Centipede

Giant Desert Centipede Scolopendra heros

Type of Animal:
Scolopendromorph Centipede

Desert, underground areas, under stones/logs/bark/wood/rocks/potted plants/brick/leaves, in litter/soil, crevices, woodlands, rough scrub, chaparral, houses, side porches, walkways, gardens, seashores

Found in N Mexico, Arizona, S & E New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, far SE Colorado, Kansas, SW Missouri, W Arkansas, & W Louisiana

3 subspecies-nominate subspecies (Giant Black-Tailed/Blue-Tailed) yellow w/ light yellow legs & medium to dark blue (almost black) tail. Giant Arizona Desert/Giant Black-Headed red or dark orange w/ yellow legs & black head/tail, sometimes has black banding. Giant/Texas Red-Headed jet black to greenish black w/ red head & yellow legs. Very large long centipedes. 21 or 23 pairs of legs.

Insects, arachnids, earthworms, lizards, amphibians, rodents, snakes, birds, & each other

Status in Wild:


Additional Info:

Young: Stadia
Group: Solitary

Male: 0.055-0.07 oz
Female: 0.09-1 oz

2 months

Life Span:
5-10 years

Body Length:
Male: 4-6.5 in
Female: 6.5-8 in

Main predators of adults are owls, coyotes, bobcats, procyonids, badgers, roadrunners, rattlesnakes, weasels, chickens, toads, shrews, armadillos, & each other. Spiders, ants, & ground beetles eat juveniles.

Males deposit spermatophores (mature sperm cells) in female’s spermathecae (reproductive reservoir) during mating. Female fertilizes oocytes (eggs), depositing them in cavity areas. Females deposit 15-60 eggs, which she guards. She takes care of stadia for 1st few days of life.

After hatching, centipedes go through 4 molts shedding exoskeletons before maturity. After maturity, they molt once a year. They often eat shed exoskeletons.

Breathe through spiracles (openings located along sides of body).

Since they have poor vision, they mostly rely on touch & chemoreceptors.

Forcipules used for killing prey as well as defense. They also use fangs for this purpose.

Active at night (nocturnal).

Largest centipedes in North America.

Coloration serves as warning to potential predators/threats.

Fun Fact(s):
These centipedes can reach into the air to grab flying prey.

These centipedes have very painful venomous bites sometimes needing hospitalization. Pain from bites can easily last a few hours.

Well-known as escape artists in captivity.

These animals react & move very fast.

These centipedes extremely defensive, readily attacking any threat.
Giant Desert Centipede, Giant Arizona Desert/Giant Black-Headed form, stock photo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *