Bug Blog

Millipedes And Centipedes in Arizona

There are rare sorts of people who do not mind handling certain arthropod species that the vast majority of people would consider to be repellent, unsightly and generally frightening to even look at. Some of the most reviled, but also admired arthropod creatures include tarantulas, millipedes, praying mantids, stick insects and some people even keep ant and roach farms for reasons that only they understand. While millipede species are relatively docile, small in size and harmless to humans, the desert millipede found in Arizona can grow to be more than 6 inches in length, which may be a little large for most people’s comfort. In addition to the Arizona millipede, a centipede species that can grow in excess of 8 inches in length can also be found in Arizona. This species is aptly known as the giant desert centipede.

Desert centipedes are easy to recognize on account of their excessive length and armored exterior that is tan to brownish-yellow in color. This centipede species has pincers below its head which can pinch human skin, causing a painful sensation that delivers a potent venom that has been known to cause death in humans, but this species is not aggressive. An arthropod expert, Coyote Peterson, allowed himself to sustain bites and stings from hundreds of arthropods for research purposes, and he described the giant desert centipede’s bite as being among the most painful that he had experienced. Obviously, this species should never be handled. The giant desert centipede has a flattened body that allows it to easily enter homes by slipping through cracks in foundations, through holes in window screens, and spaces beneath doors. In some cases, insecticide applications become necessary when the creatures establish indoor infestations. The desert millipede is very different from the desert centipede, as the species does not bite, they eat plants only, they prefer humid conditions as opposed to dry ones and they are rarely found in homes.

Have you ever spotted a desert centipede either outdoors or indoors?