Scolopendra heros, commonly referred to as the giant desert centipede, is the largest centipede in North America. This desert centipede can be found throughout the southern United States and into Mexico. Learn more about the giant desert centipede below.


The giant desert centipede can range in length from 6 to 8 inches, whereas the “common” centipede tops out at around 4 to 5 inches. The giant desert centipede also has an orange body with a black head and tail, compared to the tan and brown body of the common centipede.


During the day, giant desert centipedes will often stay hidden under rocks, bricks, potted plants or anywhere that offers shelter. They will typically lay their eggs in holes hollowed out under rocks, in decayed wood or in any other concealed spaces. .

Life Span

Little is known about the life span of desert centipedes. Their survival may be in part to the protection the eggs and larvae receive from the mothers. After laying eggs, the females will wind themselves around the eggs until their young have hatched. The mothers will then continue to guard them until they set off on their own. .


All centipedes are carnivorous and nocturnal predators that feed on a variety of arthropods. Larger adults may even capture larger prey, such as small reptiles or mammals. Are desert centipedes poisonous? The answer is yes. Their front legs, or maxillipeds, have a poison gland. They capture their prey by stunning or killing them with their front legs.

Although it’s rare, centipedes can inflict painful bites if they’re provoked or handled. Some people may experience nausea, headache and localized skin necrosis. Those who are allergic to insect bites may have a more severe reaction and should seek medical attention immediately.

Tips for Prevention

Although centipede species vary by geography, some species may come to your home and garden seeking food and shelter. Outdoors, potential harborages, such as old boards, boxes, compost piles, wood piles, stones, leaf litter and grass clippings, should be removed. To keep them from going inside, make sure to seal any potential entry points. Treatments applied by a pest professional may be recommended, particularly in the crawl space, basement and outdoor areas. Contact Terminix today to get started.