Giant redheaded centipede (July 25, 2013)

The insect of the week is the Giant Redheaded Centipede.

Guest post by Sydney Glass, Integrated Pest Management Intern.


The giant redheaded centipede can grow to as long as 8 inches and has a red head, a black body, and yellow legs. The centipede has a pair of legs right below its head which are adapted to be claws, and actually do have venom.


Centipedes like to hide under rocks and in dead/fallen tree limbs. Logs are also a good hiding place for a centipede. The centipede lives in the soil, and passes the winter as an adult then has eggs once the temperature warms up.


The centipede has a very painful bite. And, as previously mentioned, the giant redheaded centipede has venomous claws with which it latches onto prey. The bite is not fatal, but causes extreme pain, irritation, and swelling. The centipede has been known to eat insects, mice, small snakes and small mammals. The legs of the centipede have sharp tips. As the centipede walks along something like human skin, it leaves little cuts that can become severely irritated and swell, along with if the creature becomes alarmed it can excrete poison into the fresh cut with its feet.  To be safe, do not handle the giant redheaded centipede.

Here is an informational link about the giant redheaded centipede by IPM program specialist Molly Keck. Here is a really good comment about centipedes from a chilopoda specialist, Dr. Rowland M. Shelley, who I believe is with the Virginia Museum of Natural History.

Giant redheaded centipede. Photo Credit: Michael McCullar.