What’s the Difference? Millipedes and Centipedes

Millipedes and centipedes…you probably know them as those insects with all the legs. What are the real differences between centipedes and millipedes? Do you know? Before we get to the differences, let’s note a few similarities.

Both centipedes and millipedes are considered arthropods. In other words, they are invertebrates that have an exoskeleton and a segmented body. They are related to scorpions, crabs, lobsters, and shrimp. Both of these creatures also extend their body segments by molting.

So, if you see something with lots of legs crawling around, how do know which one it is?


  • Known as “hundred leggers”; typically have less than 31 pairs of legs
  • Flattened, elongated, exoskeletal body
  • 2 long, segmented antennae
  • 2 modified, venomous legs that is uses to capture and kill prey
  • Single pair of legs on each trunk segment
  • Uses 2 modified legs on last segment and 2 modified venomous legs on first segment for defense
  • Long legs
  • Moves quickly
  • Predator – feeds on insects, spiders, birds, and reptiles
  • Male deposits sperm bundles and female finds them and impregnates herself
  • Can bite – can be painful, but not usually fatal


  • Known as “thousand leggers” typically have fewer than 100 pairs of legs
  • Rounded, elongated, exoskeletal body
  • 2 short, segmented antennae
  • No venomous legs
  • 2 pairs of legs per segment
  • Uses glands to produce a hydrogen cyanide gas to discourage predators; will also curl up when poked
  • Short legs
  • Moves slowly
  • Scavenger and herbivore – feeds on decaying vegetation
  • Male and female join for mating
  • Do not bite