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Centipede Vs Millipede: Differences Between Legged Species Simplified

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Outdoor & NatureLearn more
Outdoor & NatureLearn more
Centipede vs millipede: There are many differences between the two arthropods including the number of legs.

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We often encounter unwanted guests in our house that aren't humans.

If you've ever freaked out at a creepy-looking creature with an uncountable number of legs crawling on the floor, then it's either a centipede or a millipede. They may look similar but aren't the same.

Contrary to what you might believe, centipedes and millipedes aren't insects. They belong to a group of animals called 'Myriapoda'. Centipede belong to a class Chilopoda, while millipedes belong to class Diplopoda, both of which are subclasses of Arthropod. So yes, it's correct to say a millipede and centipede is an Arthropod. These creatures are invertebrates, have exoskeleton and segmented body, and have two pairs of legs on each body segment. Despite the similarities, there are many differences as well. The most noticeable difference between a centipede and millipede is that centipedes move faster while millipedes are slow-moving. Another stark difference is millipedes will curl up and stay motionless when disturbed or threatened while centipedes will run as fast as they can. Continue reading to explore more differences between centipedes and millipedes.

Do you know that a giant centipede can grow as long as 10 in (25.4 cm)? Learn more giant centipede facts. If you're interested about spiders, why not consider reading cobweb vs spider web?

Which is more dangerous: centipede or millipede?

Even though they look creepy, myriapods are not dangerous (at least not to humans). In terms of the diet, there are differences between centipedes and millipedes. Centipedes follow a carnivorous diet and prey on smaller insects, earthworms, and slugs. On the other hand, millipedes are scavengers in their natural habitat. So they mostly consume decaying leaves, woods, and branches.

Of the two, centipedes are more dangerous to humans than millipedes. Since centipedes are predators and feed on other animals, their forcipules contain venom. They bite and inject this venom into their prey or on any animal that poses a danger to them. Although a centipede bite is not fatal to humans, it will leave a red mark behind on the skin with mild to moderate swelling. But the severity will depend on the species that has delivered the bite. There are over 8,000 species of centipedes found across the world and their length can vary between one inch to one foot. The largest one, the Amazonian Giant Centipede, can kill prey that are 15 times bigger than they are.

In the United States, you're unlikely to ever cross path with this species. The ones that are found in US (like bark centipede and cryptopid centipede) are timid and harmless for the most part. Since centipedes are nocturnal, the biting will occur at night times and you may not even notice it. Compared to centipedes, millipedes do not pose a greater threat. They are unable to bite and have no defensive mechanism, except of the foul-smelling liquid they emit when threatened. Millipedes will curl up and hope that their exoskeleton will protect them. But you should be cautious and wash off the liquid as soon as you can as it causes skin irritations or rashes.

Why you should never squish a centipede?

The first reaction of most people upon spotting a centipede on the floor or wall is to walk away to a safe place. Don't squish them no matter what until you see a reduction in bug population.

First and foremost, centipedes kill the bugs inside your house. They are carnivores and prey on insects and bugs. So if your house is teeming with cockroaches, moths, or flies, the centipedes will clean your house by feeding on the pests. The two frontal legs near its head contain the venom. The rest are used to grab or scoop up the bugs, something known as 'lassoing'.They are constant predators and will look for their next prey immediately. If centipedes are in your house or bathroom, it's either because they've sensed pests and want to feed on them or they prefer the moisture in that area. Moreover, they don't carry any fatal disease or build webs or nests in the corner. Centipedes also don't crawl on your bed or damage your furniture. If you want to get rid of centipedes, you need to attack the pests rather than these arthropods. Call in pest control and kill the pests. Centipedes will eventually drive themselves out of the house into the garden. Also, check that there isn't excess moisture in any of the rooms.

Even though centipedes look scary, you should think twice before squishing them. They can serve as pest controllers!

Who would win: millipede vs centipede?

It's highly unlikely that centipedes and millipedes will ever get into a fight. But if situation forces them to face each other, who would have an upper hand and win the fight?

Centipedes are the ones who prey on other smaller creatures. Millipedes are happy to feed on decaying plant matter. So it's centipede who will initiate the attack. When threatened, millipedes will coil into a ball only exposing their exoskeleton. It'll take some serious work for the centipedes to crack open the exoskeleton. If they succeed, they will win the fight. If not, the millipede will live to fight another day.

Who has more legs: a millipede or centipede?

Besides belonging to the arthropod class of animals, there's another thing that's common between centipedes and millipedes: they have lot of legs.

Between centipedes and millipedes, millipedes have more legs. Both arthropods have multiple body segments. Millipedes have a rounded body and two pairs of legs per segment. Centipedes have one pair of legs per body segment. The legs in millipedes are located underneath the respect segments. Centipedes have their one pair of legs positioned on the sides. Since centipedes have one pair for each body segment, they have an odd number of legs. So no species has exactly 100 legs, which is contrary to their name. So if you think a centipede is called centipede because it has 100 legs, then its not. But a millipede has an even number of legs (varying between 40 - 400 legs) since they have two sets of legs per body segment. Even the longest millipede, the Giant African millipede, has got 300-400 legs. When comparing centipedes and millipedes, you'll notice that a millipede has got more pairs of legs for the same number of body segments. So millipedes win in this regard!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for centipede Vs millipede: differences between legged species simplified then why not take a look at Bengal tiger Vs Siberian tiger: fascinating difference facts for kids, or can chickens eat bananas? A healthy fruit treat for your chicks!

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