The Texas redheaded centipede, also known as the giant desert centipede, giant Sonoran centipede, and giant redheaded centipede, seems to terrify a lot of people−at least its photo does. This arthropod, however, found in northern Mexico and across the southern United States, is amazingly adapted for survival. Scolopendra heros can live in a variety of habitats, from damp to dry, and its coloration can scare off potential predators, expecting the centipede to be poisonous.
Compared to other arthropods seen in North America, this centipede appears huge. Its average length is 17 centimeters (6.5 inches) but can reach up to 20 centimeters (8 inches). It has 21 or 23 pairs of legs and also a pair of pincer-like appendages in front of its legs. Called gnathostomes or gnathopods, these appendages pinch rather than bite, injecting venom into prey">prey.
The carnivorous Texas redheaded centipede is an important part of the food web. It eats insects, lizards, frogs, and rodents, and is also preyed upon by owls, coyotes, ringtail cats, bobcats, and badgers.
During the daytime, centipedes avoid sunlight, staying underground or under rocks, or in decomposing logs, leaf litter, or other crevices. When a centipede mother lays eggs in one of these sheltered spaces, she stays with the eggs, coiling around them for protection. She grooms the eggs, too, most likely to keep mold and bacteria from growing on them.
to adjust to new surroundings or a new situation.
part of something that extends out from the main body, such as an arm or leg.
invertebrate animal with a segmented body, exoskeleton, and jointed appendages.
all related food chains in an ecosystem. Also called a food cycle.
crustacean (arthropod) appendage modified to serve as a jaw.
vertebrate animal with jaws.
environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.
animal that hunts other animals for food.
animal that is hunted and eaten by other animals.
to target, victimize, or devour.
poison fluid made in the bodies of some organisms and secreted for hunting or protection.