Common Name: Giant Red-Headed Centipede

Scientific Name: Scolopendra heros

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Chilopoda

Order: Scolopendromorpha

Family: Scolopendridae

Genus: Scolopendra

Species: S. heros

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The Scolopendra heros, or Giant Red-Headed Centipede, is one of the many centipedes in the Animalia kingdom. It is a very large centipede, growing up to 6 ½ inches in length and may reach 8 inches. It has many forms of coloration. The most common type of coloration is: first two body segments are chestnut red, the trunk is black tinged with green, and the legs are yellow. This is known as warning coloration. They have 21 to 23 pairs of legs, one for each segment of its body.

 

The S. heros is found in warmer seasons under stones and logs. They do well in the ecosystem because they are large and poisonous. They are found in many parts of the world, even in the United States. They have occurred in Arkansas, Southern Missouri, Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Northern Mexico. They are rather common in Little Rock, Arkansas. The S. heros plays the part of a predator in the food web. These centipedes are known to eat toads, small snakes, moths, and also small arthropods. They capture and kill their prey, stunning it with its poisonous claws.

 

They compete with other centipedes and spiders for food and are allowed to compete by using their venom glands to sting and kill. The S. heros is preyed on by quite a few predators. Some predators to this animal are the African ant, the South African Cape Black-Headed snake, other centipedes, and some spiders. The S. heros uses a head-tail attack against its enemies. It can also defend with its dangerous venom.

 

The S. heros may look gross, but it is actually very interesting. When walking on human skin, it makes tiny incisions and drops poison into them. Its venomous bite is not pleasant, and can hurt very badly, but is not deadly to normal humans. They lay eggs, often in cavities of decayed wood, and the female watches over them and the juveniles that hatch from the eggs.

 

Author: Mary-Kate L.

Published: 02/2008

 

Sources:

http://entomology.uark.edu/museum/sheros.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scolopendra

 

Photo Credit: Jeffrey K. Barnes