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

Known as “thousand leggers”

typically have fewer than 100 pairs of legs

Flattened, elongated, exoskeletal bodyRounded, elongated, exoskeletal body
2 long, segmented antennae2 short, segmented antennae
2 modified, venomous legs that is uses to capture and kill preyNo venomous legs
Single pair of legs on each trunk segment2 pairs of legs per segment
Uses 2 modified legs on last segment

and 2 modified venomous legs on first segment for defense

Uses glands to produce a hydrogen cyanide

gas to discourage predators;  will also curl up when poked

Long legsShort legs
Moves quicklyMoves slowly
Predator – feeds on insects, spiders, birds, and reptilesScavenger and herbivore – feeds on decaying vegetation
Male deposits sperm bundles and female finds them and impregnates herselfMale and female join for mating
Can bite – can be painful, but not usually fatalDo not bite