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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Aggressive Desert Creature a Centipede!

Q. This insect was found on the west side of town inside the house. As you can see from the picture, it looks like a centipede. When we approached it, it became very defensive and acted like
it wanted to attack us!  I also found one on a rose bush in the backyard. It was also very aggressive. What might it be? 
Desert centipede found by reader.

A. Thanks for the picture and you are correct, it is a centipede. This one is probably the common Desert Centipede. They have very characteristic color differences from other types of centipedes found outside of the desert.
            They can look intimidating since they can reach lengths of 4 to 8 inches, one of the largest centipedes, depending on which desert centipede you encounter. There are several types all with different colorations.
            They are poisonous and can deliver a nasty “bite”. It was threatening to use this on you because you were a threat to it.
            If you search on the internet for “desert centipede” several good sites will come up from a “naturalist” point of view. They are good predators of other insects including roaches. However, they do pose a threat to humans with a “bite” similar to a bee sting which is treated much the same way.
            Some people may have a “reaction” to the sting so if you have concerns, go to Quick Care or other medical service where you can get prompt medical attention.
            There is very little information on controlling them so the approach is similar to controlling spiders and roaches. This includes excluding them from the home by caulking all possible entry points and creating a chemical barrier using a “foundation spray” if you want to use pesticides.
            Once inside the house they may set it up residence if there is a food supply,  places to hide and nest. In cases like these, sprays called “crack and crevice” treatments would be recommended until you can get them under control.
            Outside I would just leave them alone and treat them like any other potentially dangerous desert creature such as bees, hornets, wasps, black widows, brown spiders, tarantulas, biting ants and bark scorpions.

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