What Are the Characteristics of a Millipede

What Are the Characteristics of a Millipede?

Millipedes are arthropods of the class Diplopoda, meaning double foot. Millipedes possess elongated, segmented bodies with two leg pairs per segment. These arthropods are detritivores that feed on decomposing organic material.

Millipedes have long bodies with short antennae and short legs that are vertically in line with their bodies. This compact body shape enables them to plow through soil and detritus. Most millipedes are largely black, dark brown or grey with bolder shades of red, purple or yellow on their segments and legs. Small holes, or spiracles, on each segment allow them to breathe; millipede spiracles are most efficient in moist environments.

Millipedes inhabit nearly every habitat that includes dark, moist areas. They are commonly found under logs, in leaf litter and in compost. These areas provide a rich supply of decaying organic material – a millipede’s primary food source. As detritivores, millipedes help to break down nutrients such as nitrogen and return them to the soil.

Millipedes are not capable of biting in defense. Instead, they cope with threats by curling into a ball and secreting toxic or unpalatable substances through their exoskeletons. The secretions of a few species contain cyanide and several tropical millipedes can even project toxin at a predator’s eyes.

Millipedes are often confused with centipedes because of their overall shape and number of legs. However, millipedes always have two leg pairs per segment, while centipedes only have one. Further, centipedes are venomous and capable of delivering a sometimes painful bite.



Identification, images, and how to prevent infestation


  • Colour Dark brown, grey, or tan.
  • Size From 2.5 cm up to 15 cm long.
  • Description Have one pair of long, thin, very fast legs per body segment. Also have two antennae, flattened bodies and a bristly appearance. The body sometimes has darker strips or markings on the back.
  • Notes Most centipedes found in Canada have about 15 pairs of legs, while others in the tropics can have hundreds.

Quick Links

  • How to identify Centipedes
  • Signs of an infestation
  • How to prevent Centipedes invading
  • Life Cycle
  • Commonly Asked Questions

How to identify Centipedes

Centipedes are segmented arthropods and their leg count typically ranges anywhere from 30 to nearly 400 limbs. Each of their body segments has a pair of legs slightly longer than the pair before it, which helps the pests move quickly.

Signs of an infestation

As they do not typically leave lasting signs of infestation, damage buildings, or contaminate food, centipede infestations may go unnoticed for some time. The best way to determine if centipedes are present is to look for them at night when they’re most active. Homeowners might also find molted exoskeletons given a present infestation. Dark, secluded areas in basements, under cabinets, and collections of firewood are common places for centipedes to congregate.

How to prevent Centipedes invading

Look for molted exoskeletons, Prevent other insects invading, Keep your home clean and sanitary, Cover exterior vents and holes, Seal cracked pipes and loose/worn outdoor seals, Seal crevices and cracks in walls, Remove brush, firewood, and mulch, Keep mulch and flower beds free of weeds, well aerated and do not overwater.

Life Cycle

Females lay eggs in underground nests. When young centipedes hatch, they look like smaller versions of adults, though they have fewer legs. Immature centipedes grow additional body segments and legs as they age, going through several developmental molts before reaching adulthood.

Commonly Asked Questions

Why do I have centipedes?

There are more than 70 species of centipedes in Canada, and while most do not interact with humans, house centipedes commonly invade homes to escape dry conditions outdoors or cold weather.

Centipedes congregate where there are large amounts of insects and seek out dark, damp places with plenty of small crevices and cracks, like basements, garages, and mulched gardens.

They prey on other household pests, including spiders, beetles, moth larvae, ants, and worms, but will also prey on other centipedes. As predators, they ambush and then disable their prey by catching them in poisonous claws.

How worried should I be about centipedes?

Although they possess venom potent enough to paralyze and kill insects, centipedes do not bite humans unless grabbed or accidentally stepped on, and their venom is not toxic enough to be dangerous. However, their presence is unsightly and they are considered a nuisance.

Due to the persistent nature of centipedes, their ability to navigate very small cracks, and the fact their presence may indicate an insect problem, it is essential to get the help of a professional pest control service to eradicate them and any other infestations.

Centipede infestations in homes may indicate the presence of underlying insect problems.

What is the difference between centipedes and millipedes?

Though centipedes and millipedes seem the same, the pests share few common traits. A centipede has a flat body with a single pair of long legs per segment. Millipedes are longer and have rounded bodies with each body segment bearing two pairs of short legs. A millipede has a distinctly different appearance and far more legs than a centipede. Commonly found in garden soil, millipedes are dark coloured with rounded bodies. They have two pairs of legs on each body segment rather than the centipede’s single set. Depending on the species, a millipede can have up to 400 legs.

In addition, millipedes vs. centipedes cause different problems for homeowners because their diets differ. Millipedes feed on decaying matter. These garden pests live in the soil, attacking roots and stripping stems on young plants causing plant damage. Some millipede species also secrete a fluid that irritates skin and leaves an odour.

On the other hand, centipedes gather in dark, dank spaces like basements and bathrooms. They feed on insects, so their presence may indicate a more serious infestation is afoot. Also, their darting movements and disturbing appearance tend to cause panic.

Since both pests prefer humidity, homeowners should reduce moisture levels to keep millipedes and centipedes away.


Kivsyak millipede. Description, features, species, lifestyle and habitat of Kivsyak

Kivsyaki — terrestrial invertebrates living in many places in the world. There are also individual subspecies that have differences in the volume and shades of the body. Their length often reaches thirty centimeters, but in nature there are smaller individuals.

Most often they (e.g. Crimean Kivsyaki) are observed in the forest, in a place where there are a lot of mushrooms, berries, branches, flowers, fallen leaves and the like. They can be seen everywhere except in places with terrible cold, for example, in Antarctica. Gray diplopods are characteristic of forests and south-latitudinal oak forests. Kivsyaki in the photo They look very menacing, but some people even start these creatures and call them their favorites.


Giant kivsyak — one of the most interesting subspecies. The number of their legs reaches seven hundred pieces. They look like a huge worm. A typical Africa habitat is a place where there are many varieties of this subspecies.

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On the head of the diplopod there are small antennae, segments, and olfactory and tactile organs. The millipede itself is a single organism, protected by strong «armor», which is quite hard to the touch (this in turn helps the insect avoid damage). Shades are yellowish, brownish.

In nature, there are still individuals with very dark “armor” and even with an interesting “pattern” on it. Kivsyak African has reddish, yellowish and bluish tones. This species is the largest, originally from East Africa. Females are slightly smaller than males. Over the year, their length increases by 0.5 decimeters. Calm, non-aggressive.

Millipedes have other “armor” colors, for example, olive nibble. His body shimmers with dark (a combination of green and gray) shades. Segments are clearly delineated. Lives in southern Africa. Eggs are laid in a dunghill. They live in the wild up to 7 years, in captivity this number can increase several times. Less shy than the rest, therefore, less likely to emit an odorous liquid.

Rainbow nod carries an interesting name for a reason. It is characterized by grayish and black shades of the shell, a red line is located on the body. The length of the insect is up to twelve centimeters. This species more often lives in Thailand, in Vietnam. It feeds on fallen leaves, lives in them. With hunger bites.


Environment millipede kivsyaka the environment includes a considerable number of various living organisms. All life passes precisely in the forest litter, in the earth he pulls out moves. The fact that a kivsyak has many legs is not always able to help him avoid the threat in the form of a dangerous predator, because he is very slow.

By nature, you can understand that she is a phlegmatic person. And this is a consequence of the fact that she has no dangerous opponents in nature. The only creatures that bother them are parasitic ticks. To protect and repel predators, they emit a fetid odor and wrap themselves in a dense lump. Favorite pastime is to dig into the ground and slowly numb.

The smell emitted by millipedes helps not only themselves, but also some other animals. As evidence, we can say about the lemur, who, when danger occurs, scares the nod and rubs his body with its odorous secretions. So he manages to escape from opponents.

Many are of the opinion that how nasty the smell of a nibble is directly depends on its color. For example, white diplopods smell really very unpleasant. However, this does not stop people who are passionate about exoticism, and they are often interested in breeding such nods at home.

However, often amateurs keep African nods in their hands, similar to ordinary snakes, except with numerous legs. The box or something similar, where they will live, should be made of plastic or glass. They are unpretentious in leaving. The content of nibs It has a number of disadvantages.

The main one is excessive timidity, as a result of which millipedes curl up in a tight ring and emit a nasty smell. Gloves are recommended before taking millipedes in your hands. After all, the discharge easily stains clothes. They are very peaceful, calm, but uncommunicative. The price of one kivsyak reaches about six hundred rubles.

Kivsyakov is often called glutton, because in one month they absorb a bucket of feed. Their diet consists of mushrooms, rotten shoots, bark and so on. However, when caring for a millipede in the apartment, you don’t have to worry about her diet, because she is omnivorous. It eats both meat products and dairy (cottage cheese). Some people feed their pets fruits, vegetables, and any other plant foods.

A noteworthy fact about diplopods is that they often eat chalk. This is due to the content of calcium and vitamins in the composition (they strengthen the shell). Chalk can be replaced with shell eggs. Do not give too much food, otherwise mold will form on the leftovers. Therefore, they should be removed immediately.

A dung heap is considered to be a favorite breeding ground, because of which many summer residents often find these invertebrates in the ground. If you do not take any measures to combat them, then soon they will begin to bite the roots, as a result of which the plants simply cease to grow normally due to lack of nutrients. It is not always possible to see such small pests, because their length is a maximum of one and a half centimeters.

As said earlier, the color of the shell of millipedes depends on their variety. They are black, white, olive, yellow, brown. On their bodies there is a large number of warts and rare bristles, each segment contains two pairs of legs.

Quite often kivsyaki fall on tubers along with manure. That is why, before buying any fertilizer, it is recommended to carefully examine it and check for the presence of these small pests and their larvae.

In order to prevent the appearance of unexpected “guests” in his area, the gardener should periodically clean the soil and greenhouses (remove plant debris), and also cultivate the soil annually using chemical and thermal methods.

Reproduction and longevity

In nature, the female usually lays up to 70 eggs in the ground (right where she lives). Larvae of this species practically do not differ in appearance from their parents, except that they have fewer legs. When colds come, they and adults prefer to dig deep into the soil with optimal moisture. And so they survive the winter.

To distinguish millipedes by sex, it should be remembered that males have homopods (similar to extra limbs) that are located inside the segment of the head (its inner part). This information is especially important for those who are going to breed invertebrates at home.

In order for the female to precisely lay her eggs, it is necessary to provide all the necessary conditions for this — a varied food, optimal humidity, and proper care. If all the points are correctly followed, the millipede will live at least ten years.

Benefit and harm

Kivsyaki have obvious harm when they live in areas of gardeners. They damage the roots, thereby preventing the seedlings from developing normally. Sometimes small pests get into flower pots. To get rid of them, you need to put the pot in the water for a couple of hours, wait until all the millipedes come out, and collect.

You can’t plant a compost pile in pots, it’s useless. It is better to use complex fertilizer for top dressing. Against garden nibs, nibble humus is often used. It is also worth mentioning the benefits that kivsyaki in the country can bring. They are able to «recycle» compost waste and make nutritious soil out of them.

With a strong aversion to such a neighborhood, a person can take advantage of certain chemicals, such as Karate, Aktofit and others. But for a more effective result, it is best to add chloride salts.

How to get rid of nibble?

The appearance of these millipedes in large quantities will not bring any benefit in the form of processing rotting organic matter for the garden. Also, together with the worms, they form fertile humus, but again only in small groups.

The mass reproduction of these pests means that soon beetroots, bushes of raspberries and tomatoes, potatoes and other crops will appear on the site. In order to avoid such meetings and keep your crop intact, you need to understand how to get rid of kivsyak.

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It is interesting! When diplopods begin to move, the forelimbs are first connected, and then everything else is already connected. You can notice a kind of wave.

In areas, large individuals are usually not found. In most cases, they live in Africa, America or Asia (tropical latitudes). Giant millipedes are rarely seen on the territory of Russia, but medium ones are very common.

Throughout the year, these creatures are able to process a lot of plant debris that has already begun to rot, turning them into nutrient soil (for this it is necessary to dig a compost hole).

The most common type of millipede nodules of the middle strip is gray-steel (in length reaches more than thirty millimeters). In second place — sand (black shell with two longitudinal stripes of orange color).

Mating of two individuals occurs only at temperatures above +25, there should also be high humidity. Nest building materials — excrement and pieces of soil. Small larvae look like smaller copies of adults, but with a difference in the number of legs. The growth process is accompanied by periodic molting, which contribute to the appearance of additional pairs of legs.

Should I fight with a nod?

By their nature, nods are vegetarians, but if a person keeps them at home, then you can feed them anything, without going to extremes, of course. Invertebrates move from the site inside the house if there is high humidity on the street, which provokes the accelerated reproduction of individuals. Houses usually settle in the kitchen or bathroom, as there is water. They scare with their appearance when they crawl along the ceiling.

They are active at night, because in the afternoon the sun negatively affects the shells, drying them. Do not tolerate infections or diseases, do not bite people and pets. Very shy, and in any danger turn into a tight circle and emit fetid odors to protect the abdomen. They don’t carry any danger to people, unless their clothes or hands can get dirty.

Few people can please the appearance of millipedes in the house, especially the impressionable owners. In such cases, many are wondering how to eliminate them. Insecticides are not very effective against pests, so the use of special traps will be the best solution. They should be laid out in the evening. To attract nibblers, they put any damp rag, pieces of potatoes there. For greater effect, you can use the «Repair» (food bait, insecticide).

Sometimes pests settle in pots with indoor plants, and thereby greatly upset the owners. Kivsyaki appear there, because in any pot organics are necessarily present. This can happen if you use unprocessed soil from the site.

Important! Before making garden soil in a pot for indoor plants, it is recommended to pour boiling water over it.

If you regularly pour tea leaves into pots, then this will only accelerate the process of reproduction of pests. Fallen buds and leaves that were not removed on time also contribute to this. After kivsyaki eat all the rot, they switch to flowers.

If the plant is small, then it should be carefully dug up and a pot of soil should be placed in the water for a while. If it is impossible to use this method, it is better to use one of the popular insecticides — Karate Zeon or Aktofit.

How to recognize a pest?

Gardeners do not always understand what is the true cause of damage to plants and vegetables. Usually, after centipedes gnawing at the roots, there remain cavities that darken over time.

If there are a lot of them, then the plant will dry. Sometimes they damage strawberries — not the bush itself, but berries, in which parts gnaw out and even leave larvae. They prefer to tear cavities in zucchini, melon, potatoes, beets, tomatoes and carrots.


Millipede or Centipede?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a Millipede and a Centipede? Is there a difference? Here are some answers to those questions.

Nickname – “thousand leggers”

PestWorld.org reports that “millipedes are sometimes called “thousand-leggers” because of their many pairs of legs, but they can actually have anywhere from 30 – 90+ pairs of legs, depending on the species. The leggiest is Illacme plenipes, which can have more than 333 pairs of legs”.

A group of arthropods that are characterized by having two pairs of jointed legs on most body segments is called a millipede. They are known scientifically as the class Diplopoda. Millipedes can give off an ill-smelling fluid through openings along the sides of their bodies which can be toxic to small animals and pets. It can cause small blisters on humans.

Blackish or brownish with some red, orange patterns.

Long, cyclindrical and wormlike.

4 to 5 inches size.

They have antennae

Nickname – “hundred legs”

“Centipedes (Class Chilopoda) are fast-moving, venomous, predatory, terrestrial arthropods that have long bodies and many jointed legs. Centipedes are found primarily in tropical climates; however, they are also widely distributed in temperate zones. Despite their name ‘centipede’ (which means ‘100 legs’), all centipedes do not have 100 legs. Centipedes are invertebrates meaning ‘without a backbone or spinal column’,” explains Animal Corner.

Blackish or brownish with some red, orange patterns.

Elongated metameric creatures with one pair of legs per body segment

6 to 8 inches” in size.

They have antennae

Pestwiki.com shares some surprising facts and Centipedes and Millipedes:

  • The centipedes were known as hundred legs and millipede were called as thousand legs.
  • It has been said that millipedes were the first insects on the ground. Scientists have proved it by the fossils present 400 million of years ago. Because of this, the scientists have made more researchers on millipedes. Even centipedes are said to be found 300 million years ago which means they both shows evolutionary importance.
  • They both can live up to 7 to 9 years depending upon species to species.
  • They both have segmented bodies, and they both can change their shapes into spiral and straight form quickly.
  • They both comes into the spiral shape to protect themselves from any danger when they are not attacking their enemies.
  • They both have tiny breathing holes that can only be seen with a magnifying glass.
  • People prefer to eat millipedes than centipedes. Both insects are a food source because they are nutritious.
  • They consist of hydrogen cyanide, and some of the most dangerous species consist of hydrochloric acid which will burn the body of small insects.

Millipedes and Centipedes have these things in common:

  • They both consist of segmented bodies with many pairs of legs.
  • Both consist of toxic and highly chemical compounds that can cause severe burns and even kill small insects.
  • They both have a pair of antennae that they use for smelling and eating.
  • Both consist of holes as respiratory organs that are known as spiracles.
  • Many species of centipedes and millipedes have same colors.
  • They are both elongated and segmented insects.
  • They both reproduce through sexual reproduction.
  • They belong to the same group of arthropods.
  • They both lay their eggs in the soil.
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Millipedes and Centipedes have the following differences according to Pestwiki.com:

1. Differences in classification

The classification of millipedes and centipedes are same because they both are the part of phylum arthropods. Although all the insects are part of the same phylum, still they differ in many characteristics. Centipedes and millipedes also differ in their classification. For instance, their bodies have many segments with many pairs of legs. In other insects, there any only few parts with 3 to 4 pair of legs.

2. Differences in anatomy and appearance

  • The Centipedes have long, segmented and exoskeletal bodies. The millipedes have elongated, segmented but flattened bodies.
  • The centipede’s total legs can vary from 20 to 350 in different species. In, millipedes the number of legs can reach up to 750.
  • Centipedes have two venomous legs that they use during defense mechanism, but millipedes do not consist of poisonous legs.
  • In centipedes, there is only one pair of legs in each segment, but in millipedes, there is two pair of legs in each segment.
  • Centipedes and millipedes both have antennae for feeding and smelling. Centipede’s antennae are longer than millipedes.
  • You can easily see the legs of centipedes because they extend them from the body but in millipedes, the legs are extended towards the body.
  • In millipedes, the first three segments consist of only one pair of legs like the centipedes but have multiple pairs after the 3rd segment.

3. Differences in defensive strategies

They both have different defensive strategies:

Centipedes belong to the group of Arthropods that bites predators and releases toxic and harmful chemical compounds with their bites that can cause severe burns and even death in some insects. In humans, the bite marks will take months to disappear, and these toxic chemical compounds can cause severe burns and allergic reactions.

They possess toxic compounds that they use as their defense mechanism. They consist of different compounds, and these compounds can cause chemical burns. They are highly active at the time of the attack and can easily win from other insects who do not pay attention or know their unique possesses of toxic compounds. These toxic compounds can be very harmful if they get in touch with humans. They can cause burns and severe allergic reactions. Sometimes when they both encounters with the human body or they pass from any human part, it can cause severe allergy, and your skin can start to get red and bumpy. The solution to these severe reactions is taking a bath with cold water and using antiseptic soaps that can prevent the further reaction of the body. Also, use antiseptic lotions to prevent any further allergic side effects on the body.

4. Differences in mobility

The centipedes can move faster than the millipedes because of its longer legs. They can quickly bite their prey because of their rapid movement. The millipedes are; however, slow walkers and they cannot catch their prey so fast. That’s why they can live on wood and plants. The centipedes can comfortably achieve long distances, but the millipedes do not prefer to move long distances. In the rainy season, they walk the most to save themselves from the water or to get drowned.

5. Differences in reproduction

Centipedes and millipedes both produce through sexual reproduction. In centipedes, the male left their sperm bundles near the females so that they can easily impregnate themselves or infuse the sperms inside to produce new offspring. However, in millipedes, the male and female both join for mating. They start mating at the age of two, and they mate during the whole year. They mate the most when they find the suitable environment for their new offspring. Sometimes, the male millipedes give massages o the females to make their interest in mating. Both centipedes and millipedes lay their eggs in the soil where the eggs are kept for months. They lay their egg with their feces to protect them. They prefer laying eggs in the soil so that the new offspring cannot face any environmental hazards. The soil provides them with food and moisture. The new insects live on small insects for food.

6. Differences in diet and foraging

They both differ when we talk about diet and feeding. Centipedes can search in long distances for food and shelter because of their fast mobility. They are highly carnivorous and looks for their prey. They kill their prey by biting them. Their bite injects highly toxic compounds that kill their prey. They also have a pair of legs that they use to attack their prey which consists of venoms that they through on the prey. Millipedes can live either on small insects, plants, and woods. They are slow in mobility, and they do not prefer long distances searching for food and shelter. That’s why they seek refuges in homes when there is a high rainfall. They enter homes and eats wood. They can live for several months in a place if not disturbed. They can also live in soil where they get their food from small ants and insects that they can quickly catch. Their food source also plants, and they get nourishment from roots, stem, leaves, fruits and seeds. They are mainly detritivores.

7. Differences in habitat

Centipedes are the kind of insects that can die without moist environment. They prefer to live in moist soil and can also live in damp areas. Millipedes are however capable of living in every situation. If they face non-ecofriendly situations, they can change their habitat. They move into the houses and live in the basements or under the furniture or anywhere where they can easily hide them. In forests, the centipedes also live near dark places mostly under the rock, and that’s how their fossils were found because they love to live under rocks. Some of the millipede’s species can live under the deep water but some of them cannot. They can live for months under soil and water. They are also present in the cracks of the walls from where they make their way into the houses. They both share soil and damp areas as the same habitat. And they can live for months inside the soil living on other insects like spiders, ladybugs, ants and small cockroaches.

If you see any evidence of unwanted insects in your home or business, contact a pest control company immediately to take care of the issue.

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