Centipedes in Arizona

The Sonoran Desert has two different types of centipedes that make their home within it. One is the giant desert centipede (Scolopendra heros), distinctive by its orange body and back head and tail. It differs in appearance from the common desert centipede (Scolopendra polymorpha), which has a tan body and brown head and tail. Both are identified by their flattened body made of many segments. Each segment except for the first and last segments has one pair of legs. Antennae are located on the head, which helps you determine which end is which.. The giant desert centipede can measure 6-8 inches, whereas the common centipede is usually 4-5 inches in length.

Centipedes do not actually bite, rather they used a pair of pincer-like appendages located just in front of their front legs to deliver and inject venom to their prey.  While appearing like a bite, it is actually a pinch. The “bite” of a centipede can be very painful, but is not particularly dangerous to most people.

Centipedes are carnivores and will consume a variety of foods such as insects, rodents, lizards and occasionally even a frog.

When people encounter a centipede, they are often under the impression that they travel in pairs.  This is not the case.  Centipedes are not social insects, nor do they make nests.  The only time you are likely to run into more than one centipede in any given area is when the female has just given birth and the young have not yet left to venture out on their own.