What Is The Difference Between a Millipede and Centipede, Terminix

Are Millipedes and Centipedes Poisonous

What are the differences between a millipede and centipede Are millipedes poisonous while centipedes are not Find out with Terminix pest control experts.

What’s the Difference Between a Millipede and Centipede?

Is a millipede venomous? What about a centipede? Do both of these insects have 100 legs? Find out these answers and more.

Centipedes and millipedes are both arthropods known for having long bodies with lots and lots of legs. But that’s about as far as their similarities go.

If you’re thinking, “But wait! They’re both venomous!” you’ll be surprised to learn that only one of these leggy creatures is toxic. Below you’ll discover which arthropod is venomous. You’ll also find that there are many differences between centipedes and millipedes.

Differences in Centipedes

Centipedes are members of the chilopoda class of arthropods. One difference between a centipede and a millipede is that a centipede only has one set of legs (or two legs total) per body segment.

The prefix centi- means 100, so many people believe that all centipedes have 100 legs. They can have anywhere from 30 to 354 legs. Interestingly, no centipede has an even number of leg sets. That means that there aren’t any centipedes that naturally have 100 legs.

When it comes to length, centipedes can grow to be anywhere from one to 12 inches depending on the species. All centipedes have long antennae. Centipedes are carnivorous predators, so they also have large jaws that they use to kill or paralyze their prey.

Are centipedes poisonous?

Many centipedes are venomous, though not all are. The specialized front limbs — or maxillipeds — of the centipede contain venom glands that help them hunt. They first use these powerful front legs to catch their prey, and then kill the prey by injecting it with veno,.

It’s true that centipedes can bite people. These bites can cause an allergic reaction similar to a bee sting. The larger the centipede, however, the more painful the bite can be. And small children or people who are allergic to other insects may have more severe reactions.

Different types of centipedes

There are more species of this arthropod than there are legs on the leggiest of centipedes. Meet three of the many.

House centipedes: You may be relieved to know that house centipedes are not harmful. They can help out around the house, as they like to eat spiders and insects. They’re not exactly easy on the eyes, though, and are most easily recognized by their long legs.

Amazonian giant centipede: These centipedes are some of the largest you’ll find, though you’ll only find them if you happen to be traveling in South America. Amazonian giant centipedes can grow to be over one foot in length and are known for being aggressive.

Texas redheaded centipede: Aptly named for its bright red head, this species can grow up to 8 inches long. The Texas redheaded centipede is indeed found in Texas, as well as other southern states. It also calls parts of Mexico home. This centipede’s unique coloring — red head, bright yellow legs and black body — let predators know to stay away.

Differences in Millipedes

Millipedes are arthropods that are members of the Diplopoda class. They’re characterized by having two sets of legs (or four legs total) per body segment. Remember, the centipede only has one pair of legs per body segment. This is one significant difference between a centipede and a millipede.

Millipedes also don’t have powerful venomous jaws, and their antennae are shorter. And unlike the centipede, millipedes are scavengers that like to feed on decaying organic matter, like leaves and compost.

You may have been taught that millipedes have one thousand legs. It would make sense to think so, as the prefix milli- does mean one thousand. But different types of millipedes have a different number of legs. Illacme plenipes, for example, currently holds the title for the millipede with the most legs. Surprisingly, it only has 750, which means it’s about 250 limbs shy of one thousand.

Is a millipede venomous?

Due to their dashing good looks and numerous legs, millipedes are commonly confused with centipedes. Unfortunately, this has given the poor millipede a bad reputation. Millipedes are not venomous.

A millipede won’t bite or sting you as a defense mechanism. In fact, it’s much more likely to curl up into a tight little ball.

That doesn’t mean you should pick up millipedes with your bare hands, however. When a millipede thinks it’s being attacked, its defensive glands emit a stinky liquid. This liquid can irritate the eyes and skin. It can also stain your skin and make it smell. Additionally, some people are allergic to a millipede’s defensive spray.

So is a millipede poisonous? No. But it’s probably best to let them be. If you must handle millipedes, be sure to wash your hands afterward.

Different types of millipedes

There are many millipede types, and they range in size, shape and color. Let’s take a look at a few of the most interesting millipedes in the world.

  • Giant African millipede: These millipede types are called “giant” for a reason. They can grow to be longer than 15 inches in length and are almost three inches around. The giant African millipede is sometimes kept as a pet, and despite its size, typically only has about 256 legs.
  • Shocking pink dragon millipede: There are some beautiful and ornate millipede types, and the shocking pink dragon millipede definitely falls into that category. It uses its spines and bright colors to warn predators that it emits a toxin, so they shouldn’t try to eat it. Oddly, this toxin makes it smell like almonds.
  • Cave millipedes: Millipedes like cool, moist places. Well, few places fit that description better than a cave. These types of millipedes live in caves throughout the United States. Cave-dwelling millipedes vary drastically from cave to cave. Also, most have adapted to their environments and are blind and ghostly pale.
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Now you know some of the differences between millipedes and centipedes. Ready for more bug facts? We’ve got you covered from beekeeping to caterpillars.


Wondering About Centipedes? Information on What They Are and What Types They Come In

C entipedes are insects that are typically long with many legs. Although most people associate these venomous arthropods with 100 legs, the truth is that every different type of them have odd numbers of them, having one per body segment. And depending on which centipedes we’re talking about, there is a large range of how many legs they have and how long they get. There are also different kinds in different places of your home and yard, as well as varying types depending on the climate and location in the world. Most of all, centipedes are far more interesting than you might think.

So what is a centipede? Does it have 100 feet as its name suggests? What does it eat and where does it nest? This informative article will answer all the burning questions you may have about centipedes. Read on to learn more.

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The centipede is one of the oldest animals on Earth, having been found in fossils dating more than 400 million years ago. They’re infamous for their aggressiveness and creepy appearance. However, most people don’t know much about these crawling little creatures with multiple sets of legs.

Centipedes are sometimes referred to as the “hundred-leggers” because of their numerous legs, which run the length of their bodies. They’re flexible and make swift, darting movements.

How can you differentiate centipedes from other many-legged creatures? Here’s a look at their notable features.

What does a centipede look like?

Most common centipede species are grayish to reddish-brown in color. Some tropical species have a bright red, blue, or orange body color whereas others, especially the subterranean ones, don’t have a specific color due to lack of pigmentation.

Other features of the centipede include:

  • Long, flattened, segmented body.
  • One pair of jointed legs on each segment.
  • A pair of long antennae on its head.
  • A pair of large, claw-like structures just beneath the head.

Millipedes closely resemble centipedes. Both have wormlike bodies and many legs. So what is the difference between a centipede and a millipede? Read this to find out.

Are centipedes insects?

Centipedes are mistaken for insects due to their multiple legs and long skinny bodies. They’re not insects; they are arthropods.

To be considered an arthropod, an animal must have a segmented body, jointed appendages, and be an invertebrate with an external skeleton (exoskeleton). The centipede’s body is covered in a hard, flexible exoskeleton that’s made of protein and chitin – a tough polysaccharide.

Do centipedes have 100 legs?

The word centipede is derived from the Latin language: the prefix centi- that means “hundred” and pedis meaning “foot.” Because of the name, many people assume that a centipede has 100 legs.

The number of leg pairs in all centipede species is always odd. The total number of feet on the centipede varies from one species to another. It can have as few as 15 leg pairs or as many as 191 leg pairs.


The exoskeletons of centipedes lack the waxy layer that would help them retain moisture. For that reason, centipedes favor damp environments where humidity is high. Centipedes have adapted well to a variety of climates and habitats. They can be found worldwide, and some have even been spotted living in the Arctic Circle. Centipedes are generally found in moist and protected habitats like under rocks, piles of leaves, barks, in crevices in damp soils, and occasionally in rotting wood and burrows.


Centipedes can enter houses and buildings through cracks and holes in foundation walls or by crawling under doors. They’re most commonly seen indoors during spring and summer. They can also be spotted in homes in the winter, but they’re less common.

They like hiding in damp basements, bathrooms, basements, closets, and crawlspaces. They can also hide under carpet edges and in cracks and crevices in your walls.

Centipedes are carnivorous and are therefore pure meat-eaters. They’re primarily hunters, although some occasionally scavenge a meal.

The centipede uses venom to kill its prey. This venom comes from glands located immediately beneath the centipede’s head. Its front pair of legs, which are known as forcipules, connect to these glands. The centipede uses its forcipules to pierce its prey’s skin and inject venom into the wound. This paralyzes the prey.

What do centipedes eat?

Centipedes mainly prey on: insects, small arthropods, annelids, mollusks, and other small invertebrates.

The larger species of centipedes have been known to feed on small mammals and reptiles.

What about household pests?

While not many homeowners are willing to share their dwellings with centipedes, these many-booted crawlers are considered to be among the most advantageous creatures that inhabit homes. That’s because they feed on household pests. They don’t damage food or furniture.

Some of the pests that house centipedes prey on are: bedbugs, spiders, silverfish, cockroaches, houseflies, termites.

All centipede species have venomous claws, which they use to incapacitate their prey. This fact leads to the question: Do centipedes bite? Get the answer in this article.

The Different Species of Centipedes

Little do most people know that centipedes don’t just come in one type. Even though the typical centipede you might think of is long and brown with a hundred legs, the truth is that their varieties are much more diverse.

Centipedes in your house

    Scutigera coleoptrata: This is commonly referred to as the house centipede. It is yellow-ish gray and usually has no more than 15 pairs of legs. As a carnivore, it eats other insects like arthropods and arachnids. Its legs are very long and almost spider-like all up and down its body. As a result, it can sometimes be hard to be able to tell its head from its tail.
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Bathroom centipede: Centipedes like moist places, such as a bathroom, so it’s common to spot them there. And not only can these pests climb up through drainpipes, but they can also crawl straight through the water as well. If you’re finding centipedes in your bathroom, check your plumbing to see where the creatures could have possibly slipped through.

Stone centipedes

Known scientifically as Lithobius, the stone centipede is brown and can get up to 2 inches long. They typically have around 15 pairs of legs. You’ll find them active at night, hunting outside for insects to kill and eat.

Soil centipedes

These are long and flatter, having at least 27 pairs of legs and several inches of body length. They get their name from the way they like to burrow in the soil like an earthworm, although you can find them aboveground underneath logs and rocks.

Aquatic centipede

Known as the “waterfall centipede, ” this species was found by accident in Thailand. One it scurried into the water, scientists watched it swim like an eel in the way it moved its body. It is hypothesized that the aquatic centipede goes hunting for small amphibious creatures once in the water.

Flying centipedes

Although centipedes can’t fly, there is a species in Africa that looks it might be able to. Alipes has projections on its back legs that look almost like wings. But don’t worry, just like all centipedes, this one stays on the ground.

Centipedes deliver a nasty bite to their prey, paralyzing it quickly. But how would it affect a human? Go here for more details about are centipedes poisonous.

Giant Centipedes of the Desert

Giant Desert Centipede

While some centipedes are very small, others are not. Although the following isn’t abnormally huge, there are several larger-than-average centipedes you’ll find in various habitats, including the desert:

  • Tiger centipede,
  • Green striped centipede,
  • Blue tree centipede,
  • Common desert centipede (Scolopendra polymorpha).

Red headed Centipede

Scolophendra Heros, sometimes known as the Texas red-headed centipede, lives predominantly in the southwestern part of the United States and Northern Mexico, even spanning as far East as Arkansas. It varies in color from reddish brown to tan, to black, and likes to come out when it’s dark outside. As for size, the giant desert centipede averages 6.5 inches in length and can get up to 8 inches. Another interesting fact is that this centipede’s head looks just like its tail, a feature that helps them survive a surprise attack. If a predator picks the wrong end and bites the tail, they’ll receive quite a surprise bite.

Its venom is made up of a neurotoxin that paralyzes its prey. But don’t worry – humans can’t be killed or seriously injured by this centipede, although it would probably hurt and cause redness and swelling.

Giant Redheaded Centipede

Centipedes Come in All Different Colors

With different types of centipedes come different colors.

Some examples you may see include:

  • Brown: The house centipede, bark centipede, and brown centipede.
  • White: Garden symphyla centipede.
  • Green: Green centipede (Hemiscolopendra Marginate).
  • Gray: Some house centipedes.
  • Silver: Centipedes typically aren’t all silver, but various species may have silver striping or banding on them.
  • Brightly colored: Tiger centipede, Vietnamese giant centipede, cherry red centipede.
  • Black with yellow legs: Black and yellow centipede (Apheloria Montana), some giant red-headed centipedes.

Do centipedes sting with a stinger like a bee or do they bite? These creatures are deadly to insects and use their tiny mouths to do it. For more information about do centipedes bite, click here.

How they blend in

Life-forms of all types have evolved to blend into their environment, including everything from insects, to reptiles, to plants. Iguanas and stonefish are good examples of this. And centipedes are no different, coming in a range of colors to suit their environment.

For example, the brown centipede enjoys hiding in the dirt and under logs. Because these are also brown, the pest will be harder to spot. This helps them not only hide from predators but also to hide from prey, allowing them to sneak up on their victim more easily.

Warning colors

Another interesting fact about the animal kingdom is the colors that some species display as a warning, otherwise known as aposematism. Examples of animals that use this evolutionary defense are tree frogs, the cuttlefish, skunks, and some beetles, to name a few. Sometimes the colors are bright, and sometimes they are simply contrasting, communicating to possible prey their commanding presence.

Tiger Centipede
(Scolopendra polymorpha)

With centipedes, there are some types that use aposematism to ward off predators. The Milne bay centipede is orange and black with bright blue legs. The tiger centipede, with its bright orange body and black legs, communicates to predators that they better stay away.

As far as bugs are concerned, centipedes are an interesting bunch. Coming in a huge range of types, they live all over the world and are quite diverse when it comes to size and color. And although some of them do bite people if they feel threatened, there’s no need to worry about your safety. In fact, these creatures will eat the other bugs invading your home or yard and get rid of them for you. So the next time you think of a scary-looking centipede, try and remember how unique all the different types are, and you might see them in a different way.

How Do Centipedes Reproduce?

Centipedes are naturally solitary, and their sexual activity doesn’t involve copulation.

Their reproductive cycle involves certain rituals:

  • The females release pheromones to attract males.
  • The males weave a small web and deposit a spermatophore (mass or capsule that contains spermatozoa) for the females to absorb.
  • The males may leave the spermatophore for the females to find or may bring it to her attention through a courtship dance. The dance usually involves the male tapping the female’s posterior legs using his antennae.
  • The females take in the webs and fertilize the ova within their bodies.
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Female centipedes lay 15 to 60 eggs. They usually deposit the eggs in holes made in the soil or hollows of rotting logs. The eggs are coated with a sticky substance for protection.

While some species leave their eggs to develop on their own, others take care of them and the young ones. The latter protects the hatchlings until they’ve molted once or twice. They wrap their bodies around their brood to protect them. However, if the mothers are gravely threatened during this period, they may eat the eggs rather than let the intruder do so.

Stages of development

Centipedes basically go through two development stages: egg and small adult. When centipedes hatch from the eggs, they look like miniature adults.

In most species, the newly hatched centipedes have a fewer pair of legs than the fully-grown adults. To grow, they shed their skin in a process called molting. They gain additional body segments and leg pairs each time they molt.

Upon hatching, the young of the Geophilomorphae and Scolopendromorphae carry a complete set of legs.

How big do centipedes get?

While insects complete their growth once they reach adulthood, centipedes carry on with molting as adults. Their body size varies from species to species. It can reach anywhere from 0.1 to 12 inches in length.

The most common centipedes are usually a few inches long. The largest existing centipede species is the Amazonian giant centipede. It can reach over 12 inches in length. The biggest centipede to have ever existed was the prehistoric Euphoberia, which grew up to 39 inches (one meter) long.

Centipedes are long-lived critters in comparison to many other arthropods, which live for one year or less. Most centipedes live for over a year. Some live as long as 6 years.

Do You Know These Facts About the House Centipede?

The most common species of centipede encountered indoors is the house centipede. It can live its whole life inside a building.

This fast-moving centipede can travel on floors, walls, and ceilings.

House centipedes have a fuzzy look thanks to their thin legs and long antennae that are often longer than their body length. They’re generally considered harmless to people.

Here are other facts you should know about the house centipede:

  1. Appearance: The adult house centipede has 15 pairs of very long, jointed legs. It’s about 1 to 1.5 inches long. Its body is brownish to grayish-yellow with three dark stripes visible from above.
  2. Diet: This centipede feeds on pests inside your home such as ants, cockroaches, spiders, bedbugs, termites, silverfish, and carpet beetles.
  3. Habitat: House centipedes prefer cool, damp locations such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, crawlspaces, and below the bark of firewood kept indoors.
  4. Habits: House centipedes have gradual metamorphosis, so the immature ones and the adults have similar appearances. All the life stages can be seen dashing across floors or trapped in sinks, lavatories, and bathtubs. The house centipede usually forages for food at night.
  5. Threat: Although a house centipede can bite, its jaws are quite small. It prefers running away to biting humans. In case it bites, it causes nothing more than a slight swelling or temporary, localized pain.

The centipede looks scarier than it actually is. Most likely, you’ve come across one and have been frightened or disgusted by it. Now that you have a wealth of knowledge on it including its habits and food sources, you can accept it as your ally because it can help you rid your home of pests.

However, if you don’t want centipedes anywhere near your home, you can take a step toward controlling them by eliminating their food sources.

You can find further details of Centipedes Control here.

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Centipedes vs. Millipedes?

What Is the Difference Between Centipedes and Millipedes?

Both centipedes and millipedes have segmented bodies and belong to the group Myriapoda. Both breathe through spiracles and have no direct copulatory organs. However, many differences exist between centipedes and millipedes.

Centipedes are terrestrial arthropods belonging to Class Chilopoda. Centipedes are flexible, dorsoventrally flattened arthropods. Millipedes belong to Class Diplopoda and are more rigid arthropods distinguishable by their subcylindrical shape. Centipedes have one pair of legs per body segment, while millipedes have two pairs.

While most centipedes are known for their speed, millipedes move slowly and burrow.

Differences in Diet

Centipedes and millipedes also vary in diet: centipedes are carnivores and millipedes are primarily detritivores. Centipedes are carnivorous and kill their prey by injecting them with venom. Millipedes feed primarily on decaying organic matter and they may eat the roots and leaves of seedling plants. Millipedes are ecologically esteemed as agents of microbial decomposition and soil nutrient cycles.

Centipedes have maxillipeds with which they attack prey. These are the venomous modified legs of the centipede’s first segment and can be used in defense, as well. A centipede bite can kill small prey, but typically is not life threatening to humans. In the absence of stinging structures, millipedes employ defensive secretions in order to protect themselves from predators. These secretions are produced by their segmental defensive glands. A millipede will also curl its body as a defense mechanism.

While centipedes sometimes bite humans, it is rare that their venom will produce a severe reaction. However, small children and those with other insect allergies should be watched carefully following a centipede bite. In the event of bite-related medical concerns, a medical professional should be contacted at once.

Differences in Habitat

Centipedes and millipedes prefer moist, protected outdoor habitats such as rotting logs, leaves, bark and the undersides of stones.

What Are Centipedes and Millipedes Classified As?

Although they resemble insects, centipedes and millipedes both are classified as arthropods. Insects have three body segments. Centipedes and millipedes have many segments. Insects have three pair of legs but centipedes have one pair of legs on each body segment. Millipedes have two pair of legs per body segment.

If you have problems with millipedes or centipedes, consult a pest control professional.

Centipede Illustration Millipede Illustration How Many Legs Does a Centipede Have?


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