Mar 14, 2022 - News

A look at the frightening Texas giant red-headed centipede

Twitter image of centipede on broom.

Screenshot via @tpwdparks/Twitter

Maybe you heard about the invasive species of spider, the size of a child's hand, that's expected to appear along much of the East Coast this spring.

Catch up quick: Large Joro spiders — millions of them — are expected to use their webs like parachutes to travel with the wind, according to a Feb. 17 study from researchers at the University of Georgia.

The big picture: Spider shmider, as we say in Central Texas.

  • The Joro spiders are actually harmless to people, as their fangs are too small to break human skin.
  • Of note: They're named for Jorōgumo, a spider-like creature of Japanese folklore that can shapeshift into a woman to seduce its prey.

Now this is a knife: The thing that leaves us with cold sweats is the Texas giant red-headed centipede.

  • It's a venomous crawler that can grow up to at least 8 inches (!) long.
  • The head and first two body segments are red, and the other body segments are typically black with traces of green. With its yellow legs, it looks like something radioactive.
  • Any of its 20-odd legs can deliver venom, excreting poison into fresh cuts with its feet.
  • The centipede snacks on lizards and can snatch flying insects out of the air — and its sharp, painful bites can lead to swelling, headaches and nausea for humans — partly because you're thinking, "I can't believe that thing just bit me."
  • You'll want to make sure they're not hiding in that blouse you're about to don.

True story: Asher once spotted a red-headed centipede on a carpet in a house in the Hill Country where his kids had been playing moments earlier.

Threat level: Somebody grab a shovel and crush the living hell out of that thing, please!


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