What’s That Small Snake with Legs? - Bill's Home Service Company


What’s That Small Snake with Legs?

In Southern Arizona we have several creatures that are unique and not commonly found most other places in the U.S. One such insect that we commonly get questions about is the desert centipede, which many people who aren’t from here refer to as the small snake thing with lots of legs.

Two Species in Arizona

The common desert centipede and the giant desert centipede are the two species typically found in Southern Arizona. The common desert centipede is a tan/brown color and about 4-5 inches long. The giant desert centipede will typically grow to be 6-8 inches long and has black and orange coloring. All centipedes have one pair of legs per body segment, and although some species can have as many as 100 pairs of legs, the two desert species tend to have 15-30 pairs.

Habitat & Behavior

Centipedes enjoy hiding during the day under large rocks, bark and wood, other protected areas like potted plants and stored items. At night, they come out to hunt other pests like crickets, spiders, and scorpions. Although they prefer to keep these activities outdoors, they will venture inside in search of a good meal.


To some, centipedes can be a welcome pest to have outside as they help control the overall insect population. However, they can venture inside and their bites can be very painful – although not typically deadly. The best way to protect your home from centipedes is to:

  • Properly install and maintain weather stripping around doors and windows.
  • Shake out footwear and clothing before putting them on.
  • Be careful reaching into closets and storage areas.
  • Hire a local pest control company to perform a regular pest control maintenance service.

For help with desert centipedes or other common pests in the desert, contact the local experts at Bill’s Home Service Company at 520-625-2381 or visit www.BillsHomeService.com.