Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Texas Giant Centipede-Myths of their Danger!

There are many pieces of misinformation about insects and arthropods floating around out there, but one that bothers me more than most are myths about the "deadliness" of certain bugs.

The Texas Giant Centipede or Giant Redheaded Centipede has been called a deadly animal, when in fact, it is not! They can inflict a painful bite, but they are NOT aggressively looking for you, and their bite is not deadly.

Texas Giant Centipedes are found throughout our area pretty regularly. You may not have come across them before, but if you live in Texas long enough (especially in rockier areas), you definitely will. They are especially rare, and during warmer and drier months, will make their way indoors, probably looking for moisture.

Most people find them on their porches or sidewalks, sometimes in the garden, and every now and then inside the house.

Texas Giant Centipedes can reach lengths of up to 12 inches, so they can be very frightening. They also have a nasty look, in my opinion. And, like most other things that are brightly colored, it usually means -"don't mess with me!"

It is best never to handle a centipede, as they can bite. They have a pair of modified legs that act as poison claws. The poison claws are under the centipedes head (if you aren't familiar with centipedes, you can't really tell which end is the head!) and when they are disturbed or capturing prey, they use the poison claws to inject venom. The venom hurts, but it will not kill you, unless you have a very strange allergy to it. The pain is similar to a wasp sting - which to me hurts pretty bad.

Texas Giant Centipedes can also cut your skin with their other claws, so don't allow them to run up your arm or across your feet, that will hurt as well.

Just be careful around centipedes, but remember, they won't kill you. If you come across one, you didn't just escape death - you were very safe all along!


Photo courtesy of
Elizabeth Brown, CEA-IPM
Travis County Extension

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