Thousands of centipede species travel the earth, and Arizona is definitely home to some of them. In our state, there are three fairly common species. You may have found one or more of these on your property or in your home.
First is the house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata). Then there are two species of desert centipede: the common desert centipede (Scolopendra polymorpha) and the giant desert centipede (Scolopendra heros).
The house centipede is the most likely of the three to be found inside and is also the smallest variety at about 1.5 inches long. The common desert centipede has tiger-like striping and is commonly known as the tiger centipede; these animals are usually about five inches long. By comparison, the giant desert centipede is much larger – about eight inches long – with a rust-colored body and a blue head.
Here are some other fun facts that you may not know about centipedes.
Centipede means “100 legs” – literally, but they don’t all have 100. For every body segment a centipede has, it also has one pair of legs. Therefore, depending on the size of the centipede, they can have as few as 20 legs or as many as 300. With all those legs, centipedes can move very quickly across floors and even up walls.
You will rarely see a centipede during the day because they are nocturnal. They love to stay in dark and damp places during the day to rest up for their night hunting. Many people find centipedes under rocks or damp logs, or even in the mulch next to your home.
Centipedes will lay their eggs in a damp, dark place as well. The female centipede will actually curl her body around the eggs to create a protected fortress to keep predators away. The mother also uses all her legs to groom the eggs, rolling them around to keep bacteria and mold off the eggs until they hatch.
Many people think that centipedes eat plants, but, in fact, they are hunters that prey on other insects. The larger centipedes are known to even eat small vertebrate animals like lizards and rodents. Centipedes inject venom into the prey through a pair of pincers called gnathopods. But don’t worry, humans cannot be harmed by the venom from a centipede sting, although a sting will likely be painful. In particular, the giant desert centipede’s sting is quite unpleasant.
While most homeowners will kill centipedes on sight, they can be useful in that they eat roaches, spiders, silverfish and other insects. However, if all of these bugs give you the creeps, give Bill’s Home Service a call, and we will take care of your pest problem.