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Giant Redheaded Centipede - Scolopendra heros

Giant Redheaded Centipede - Scolopendra heros
Russellville, Pope County, Arkansas, USA
August 18, 2005
Size: ~15cm
This is the same centipede as in the white background image.
I released him in the woods and got a few shots "in nature" before it disappeared under a stump. Impressive creatures...

Images of this individual: tag all
Giant Redheaded Centipede - Scolopendra heros Giant Redheaded Centipede - Scolopendra heros

Childhood memories of S. Heros
These have always been one of my favorite critters. I grew up in Killeen in central Texas, north of Austin. As a child we always called these "Devil's Head Centipedes." I haven't found any websites that link that name to this species, though, so it may just be a local nickname for them.

I remember finding these quite frequently on camping trips with the Boy Scouts, especially at Camp Tahuya and at the campgrounds on West Ft. Hood. They were usually in the kinds of places you would expect - under logs, rocks, etc. and usually in the shade rather than direct sunlight. Pretty much the same places you find the insects they eat.

Of course, being children, we often did things that are rather inadvisable. We would catch these beasties, usually with sticks and/or by herding them into large glass jars. We would then put some other less than cuddly creature in with them and see what would happen. I remember one gladiatorial match where the centipede won against two large scorpions. Like I said, inadvisable, but definitely something that would make it into a nature documentary if it were caught on film in the wild.

Most of the information I've been able to find on these says they are about 7 to 10 inches long. That seems consistent with the average of what I remember. I also remember a couple of large specimens that topped 12 inches, though that could just be because I was smaller then and they are larger in my memory.

Growing up with these things around, I didn't realize that they were anything less than common. I understand now how little information is actually out there about them and how few people have actually encountered them.

I hope this is at least partially interesting to those looking for information on the "Giant Redheaded Centipede," but if you don't mind, I think I'll keep with "Devil's Head Centipede." It just seems like a more poetic and appropriate name for such an interesting and beautiful creature.

Giant Redheaded Centipede or Devil's Head Centipede
We live in Tuscaloosa, AL and we have been having alot of rain lately. The other evening our little pomeranian dog started barking at something and my husband noticed something on the floor heading towards the base board and he took a pen and pulled it out and we were horrified at what we were looking at. We had never seen anything like this and it was scary. I am like the gentleman from Hawai and I am disabled and have chronic pain and I would hate to be bitten by one or my 11-year-old daughter or my husband or one of our dogs. My husband killed it and put it in a plastic bag to see if we could find out what it was. So tonight he looked it up and found your website. It has been very interesting finding out what it is. From what your web site says it seems strange that these would be in Alabama. Also it says they like the light and we leave our TV's on all night. CAN YOU TELL US HOW TO KEEP THEM OUT OF OUR HOUSE. When my husband started trying to kill it - it was hard to kill. Any help would be appreciated because now I have become afraid of my own house. Do they bite with the mouth or pinch with the stinger at the rear?

Giant Redheaded Centipede
Thanks for the correct name, and great photos! What memory it brings back. As a boy in Arkansas(early '50s), working with my grandfather, we disturbed one while moving soil. It was huge, 8-10" in length, and very fast! The group of men claimed that it as "biggest'un we've ever seen... be worse than a snake bite!"

I stopped trying to tell the story at early lesson on how blind to truth people can be unless they see something for themselves.

You have a great web site! I found it while trying to identify a small brown bug that recently appeared in the house. It does not look like a bedbug, but is very small, oval in shape, with light and dark brownish horizontal pattern on body, and at least one appears to have a broad "fan" type tail, and is about one-eighth of an inch or so in length. They are slow, and are motionless under light.

If I can get a close-up photo of one, perhaps someone would be kind enough to help identify it.

I'll recommend your website to my niece, who is a science teacher in Midlothian TX. I think her students would really enjoy your photos and descriptions.

John Saurenman
Desoto TX

Scolopendra heros
Same color variant of S. heros as in the Oklahoma photos. It is the largest-bodied centipede in North America, growing up to 7 inches or so. It ranges from Kansas & southern Missouri to Louisiana, and westward through Texas & New Mexico/eastern Colorado to the Colorado River in Arizona. It ranges southward about 1/4 of the way into Mexico, and has not been authentically found west of the Colorado River in California.

Talked to a guy today who pai
Talked to a guy today who paid $25 for one of those.

I took a six-incher I found out back up to PA this past October to a friend who studies timber rattlers and has a fascination for this kind of thing. He couldn't believe such a beastie existed. He's keeping it in a terrarium and feeding it crickets. He says it is thriving and is now excavating balls of dirt that it rolls around the tank. When it spies a cricket he said it raises the front half of its body like a cobra and "fans" the air with its legs. Then it strikes, and according to him, is "very fast". He said he was going to bring it back next June when he comes to AR for a visit. At the rate he's feeding it, it should be 7-8 inches by then!

I haven't seen anymore of them since the cold nights have set in.

Have any more?
I would be very interested in having one of these too =) Any chance of that?

Aloha! i was just wondering just about how much time it takes for a Centipede to grow. I live in Hawaii and we have them here . the biggest one i have ever sen was 6-7 inches, Dark Brown. Do you know about how long it takes for a New Born to reach about 4 inches. we have been having them in our house this month due to the rainy season.

we have had 4 in our house in 3 days. It seems that they are attracted to light at night when we watch T. V.. my wife and I have been hit by TWO of them . Both where 4To 5 Inches long. O Gosh the Pain was just INCREDIBLE. I am Disabled. I suffer from Chronic pain due to several FAILED Back Surgeries,hip,elbow,nerve damage ETC. I am VERY Sensitive to this type of pain. Even Morphine can hardly help me with the Pain from these Creatures. My Wife handles it better then me. Please Email me at: boykoalley@yahoo, if you can help me . GOD BLESS and Aloha Hawaiianbob63


for some reason my comment went twice. This is a deletion of one of them. Can't find a delete button...

Scolopendra heros
Scolopendra heros "castaneiceps".
And a beautiful one at that!

I don't know much about them, but what I do know is I have seen them in Nacogdoches, Marble Falls, and near Conroe, all in Texas, and near Carlsbad, NM.

Kari J McWest, Canyon, Texas

S. Heros Photo
Hi Kari!

I agree with your assessment that this heros is "beautiful". I have seen several of these around my home here in Arkansas' river valley area. I was also struck by another writer's observation that my image would make a good art print. So I placed it on where it is custom applied to t-shirts, hats, coffee mugs etc. It really does look good! Centipede-wear for bug lovers...;-)

Thanks for the kind words!

Pretty sure this is
Scolopendromorpha. 21 pairs of legs. I also linked your images since they are the same specimen. Great shots!

ID of centipede
Thanks Lynette!

I am not a biologist, but do enjoy nature and photography.
If I see something unusual, I'll try to capture it with a camera.
Then I have all kinds of trouble trying to make an identification!

I just found BugGuide the other day, and I was able to identify a couple of insects I've been wondering about since we moved south. Great site!

I hope to contribute more in the future.

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