Centipedes in Texas: Types, Identification & Facts

There are a few types of centipedes in Texas. Some of these are venomous, but their venom isn’t dangerous to humans.

Many centipedes found in Texas can have a painful sting. Here are the most common types of centipedes and what makes them unique.

Types of Centipedes in Texas

There are various types of centipedes in Texas. Some of these are venomous while others aren’t. They grow to a size between 1.5 and 6.5 inches on average.

1. Giant Desert Centipede

Giant Desert Centipede

Also known as the Giant Sonoran Centipede and the Giant Redhead centipede, the Giant Desert Centipede (Scolopendra heros) is the most common species in Texas and the largest in the US.

The centipede routinely grows to a length of 6.5 inches and above.

Its natural habitat includes territories of Southern states such as Texas as well as areas of Northern Mexico.

This is a venomous species with a varied diet and multiple hunting skills.

It eats both vertebrates and invertebrates. Its preferred prey includes rodents and reptiles.

The Giant Desert Centipede can also grab insects by rising up.

This species is also venomous and dangerous. Its venom is the most dangerous for small vertebrates.

The Giant Desert Centipede is known to be a predator. It uses its venom to subdue prey.

Humans also describe acute pain following a Giant Desert Centipede bite. Pain levels depend on the amount of venom inserted by the centipedes.

While not deadly, the venom injected with a bite causes headaches, nausea, vomiting, and local necrosis (darkening) of the skin.

2. Eastern Bark Centipede

Eastern Bark Centipede

The Eastern Bark Centipede (Hemiscolopendra marginata) is also common in Texas. This species mostly lives underground where it prefers to find prey that also lives underground.

In the absence of underground prey, Eastern Bark Centipedes can also be seen above the ground looking for insects.

These centipedes are black and venomous.

While not deadly to humans, they can still inflict pain when they bite.

Medical attention isn’t mandatory for people. However, it’s recommended to see a doctor if the pain inflicted by the centipede does not subside within a few days.

3. Common Desert Centipede

Common Desert Centipede

The Common Desert Centipede (Scolopendra polymorpha) is also known as the Tiger Centipede based on its looks. It has an orange body with black stripes when found in Texas and a blue body in other states such as California.

This species is somewhat smaller than other centipedes in Texas such as Giant Desert Centipede. Common Desert Centipedes grow to a size of just over 4.5 inches.

You can find these species in deserts, particularly in the ground and under rocks where they seek shelter from the high summer heat.

The centipedes come out during the day and in the winter when temperatures are lower.

A venomous nature also characterizes the centipede. It can insert venom and causes necrosis in rodents as well as in humans.

However, once it has injected its venom it takes up to 2 days to build up its venom levels back.

The venom of the species has been shown to have medical significance. Its processed venom has antimicrobial action in typical nosocomial infections.

4. House Centipede

House Centipede

House Centipedes (Scutigera coleoptrata) are found all over Texas. They live both indoor and outdoor with a high preference for humid environments.

House Centipedes can also live their entire lives inside of the house. They are commonly found in basements and on the ground floor as these are more humid than the warmer upper floors of a home.

They aren’t considered dangerous to humans. House Centipedes lack the ability to pierce human skin.

However, their sting can be painful locally. These centipedes only sting when they’re roughly handled but they typically run away when seeing people.

These species of centipedes are known to live long lives. Females can live as long as 3 years inside a house.

In this time, female centipedes can lay hundreds of eggs.

House Centipedes can sometimes be hard to catch as they run quickly.

It’s estimated the species can move at a speed of 40mph.

This is why removing them completely from inside the house is mostly based on removing food sources (spiders and other insects) as well as sealing all wall cracks and entryway points.

5. Brown Centipede

Brown Centipede

Brown Centipedes (Lithobius forficatus) are of European origin, similar to House Centipedes.

The species is known for its multiple molts. Each molt comes with its own body segment and an extra pair of legs.

Brown Centipedes live in the ground, but not far from surface level.

It has a varied diet preferring to eat spiders, worms, slugs, and occasional insects.

Brown Centipedes are also called Stone Centipedes. They get their name from the habit of hiding under stones during the day.

These shiny brown centipedes are also believed to exist in various subspecies. Up to 50 subspecies of Brown Centipedes are found around the world.

6. Arizona House Centipede

Scutigera linceci
Arizona House Centipede. Image by Benjamin Burgunder via inaturalist

The Arizona House Centipede (Scutigera linceci) is a smaller species of House Centipedes. It grows to a body length of just over 1.5 inches comprised of 15 body segments.

This centipede is yellow exhibiting black lines between its body segments.

As most house centipedes, they feed on spiders, roaches, and other insects inside the house.

The diet of Arizona House Centipedes is more diverse, on the other hand. They eat a wide range of small animals and insects that are soft-bodied.

The species is considered very fast making a quick escape even when found indoors. They can quickly run away under the small door openings of a house.

Are Centipedes in Texas Dangerous?

Centipedes in Texas aren’t particularly dangerous. While some of them are venomous there are no recorded deaths following their stings.

Many centipedes in Texas are venomous, however. Pain that lasts for multiple hours is common following a bite.

It’s not advisable to handle centipedes in Texas with bare hands regardless of found indoors or outdoors.

Many centipedes in Texas are venomous

Some centipedes in Texas are venomous. Species such as the Giant Desert Centipede and the Common Desert Centipede are known to be some of the common centipede species in Texas.

They are also highly venomous, especially for small vertebrates and invertebrates.

However, centipedes in Texas either don’t produce sufficient venom or they can pierce through human skin completely when they bite.

Centipedes that manage to insert venom typically cause local pain.

This pain lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. People suffering from sting pain for more than a few days should seek hospitalization.

Most Texas centipede bites don’t require hospitalization

Hospitalization following centipede bites is rare in Texas. Most people suffer local pain, swelling, and skin redness following a bite.

More severe symptoms include headaches and nausea. Sever symptoms typically last more than a few hours.

Necrosis can still be present once the pain has passed.

What To Do When You See a Centipede in Texas

House centipedes and other centipedes that make their way inside of the house need to be removed. Those encountered outside should not be handled.

Remove centipedes when inside the house

House centipedes and other centipedes that make their way inside of the house should not be handled. They need to be killed or removed from the house immediately.

Centipedes often seek shelter inside homes for humidity and food. They prefer spiders and roaches commonly found in homes.

Removing spiders and common house roaches is also important when it comes to preventing centipedes inside of the house.

Keeping the home clean and clutter-free is also important as centipedes like to hide as they rarely sit in plain sight indoors.

Stay away from centipedes when outdoors

Centipedes are often found under rocks and in the garden when watering the lawn. It’s best to avoid handling centipedes by hand as they can bite.

You can find centipedes in piles of leaves, debris, and shrubs as well. They seek shelter from high heat and constantly look for high humidity environments.

It’s best to handle these areas with caution as they also attract spiders, some of the preferred prey for centipedes.

Do not handle centipedes

Some centipedes flee when seeing people while most remain to stand still. They only tend to bite when roughly handled. It’s best to avoid directly touching centipedes as they can bite.

All types of centipedes in Texas can bite. Some can inject venom.

Most venomous centipedes in Texas might not have any venom when they sting as it takes up to 48 hours for venom levels to be back to normal if they’ve used it before.

Summary

Centipedes in Texas are mostly found underground, in homes, and in gardens. Many of these centipedes are venomous and they can bite if roughly handled.

Centipedes found in Texas homes are typically removed by first eliminating debris, insects, and spiders which attract centipedes.

Sealing cracks to prevent insects and centipedes is also important.

Centipedes in Texas are of small to medium size. They grow to a maximum size between 1.5 and 6.5 inches on average.

They can live up to a few years and they can winter conditions even outdoors.

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