How Many Legs Does A Centipede Have? Shocking Facts You Won't Believe

Akinwalere Olaleye
Oct 23, 2023 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Nov 04, 2021
A centipede on green leaf in garden.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.7 Min

Centipedes have a large number of legs, but exactly how many?

Centipede legs are a topic of discussion in many groups. Everyone wonders whether a centipede has 100 legs.

Centipedes are crawling insects that infest people's houses. Not all types of centipedes are found in houses. Different species of centipedes have different habitats. Centipedes belong to the Arthropoda phylum. Arthropods include insects such as centipedes and millipedes.

Centipedes have venom, which they inject into their prey to kill them before eating. This venom is not effective on humans. A house centipede bite is not a cause for concern unless an allergic reaction is observed.

Centipedes move around with the help of many legs; some people believe centipedes have an odd number of legs.

After you have read these interesting facts about this arthropod, do check our other fact files on how many legs do scorpions have and how many legs do millipedes have.

Types Of Centipede

Centipedes are small insects belonging to the Chilopoda class. These are arthropods that have an exoskeleton. The entire body of these insects is segmented.

Centipedes are pests. They like to hide in houses, plants, rocks, and soil. If these pests have infested your house, call pest control services to get rid of them. They will not cause you much harm because the bite of these insects is not venomous for humans, but they will destroy your furniture and clothes.

There are several species of centipedes in the world. The most common are house centipedes, giant desert centipedes, stone centipedes, garden centipedes, and fire centipedes. House centipedes belong to the order Scutigeromorpha. They are found in people's houses. They make nests in damp and dark surroundings. They prey on spiders and other small insects. They are around one inch long and have 15 pairs of legs on average. Some have 30 legs in all!

Giant desert centipede legs have poisonous claws at the front. The centipedes of this species are some of the largest in the world. These centipedes are found in desert regions.

Stone centipedes belong to the order Lithobiomorpha. They are found in soils near stony regions and on stones. They have a color similar to the stones and soil in their surroundings, which hides them from predators.

Garden centipedes are found on plants in gardens. They find their prey on plants.

Fire centipedes are reddish in color. Their rounded bodies and numerous legs make them look very scary. These centipedes are found in subtropical regions.

Number Of Legs In A Centipede

Centipedes are famously known for being insects with many legs.

They have one pair of legs per body segment. The legs just behind the back of the head are used to catch prey, like spiders; that is why they are stronger than all other legs. The last pair of legs behind a centipede's body has sensory features. They act as a pair of antennae. These sensory legs make them aware of their surroundings.

Generally, centipedes have an equal number of legs on each side of their body: the right and left sides.

It is believed that each centipede has 100 legs. This also leads to the belief that centipedes have 50 legs on the right side and 50 legs on the left side of their body. But that is hardly a fact. The number of legs of any centipede differs from species to species.

Centipedes have an odd number of pairs of legs on their body. In centipedes, the number of legs is dependent on the number of body segments. All segments of their bodies have one pair of legs each. They generally have 15-177 pairs of legs. Centipedes of the orders Lithobiomorpha and Scutigeromorpha have 15 pairs of legs and one pair per segment.

Some of the common species of centipedes, along with their number of legs, are as follows: stone centipedes with 15 pairs of legs, giant centipedes with 23 pairs of legs, and house centipedes with 15 pairs of legs.

Do all centipede species have the same number of legs?

Centipedes belong to the subphylum Myriapoda. The subphylum Myriapoda is commonly shared between millipedes and centipedes. These arthropods have many legs attached to their body.

What number of legs centipedes have is dependent on the species. Hence, it is safe to say that all centipede species do not have the same number of legs. Humans have a very common misconception that all centipedes have 100 legs, which means 50 legs on each side. But we have learned that is not the case.

The many legs of centipedes are a huge benefit for them. The number of legs attached to their body allows them to move quickly and with agility. This helps them to get away from predators very quickly. The many pairs of legs also help them to wriggle and take shape according to their surroundings. Because of this ability, they can easily get inside small spaces. This benefits them when it comes to nesting and hiding food.

Centipedes have 15-177 pairs of legs; the exact number is dependent on the kind of centipede. All the members of a single insect species have the same number of legs, but not all species have the same number of legs. Lithobiomorpha centipedes have 15 pairs of legs, and Scutigeromorpha centipedes also have 15 pairs of legs. But this does not mean that centipedes belonging to all orders have the same number of legs.

All centipede species have different numbers of legs.

Millipede Spirostreptida on tree.

Centipede Vs Millipede

People often confuse centipedes and millipedes. They think both are the same thing, but that is not true.

There are distinct differences between centipedes and millipedes. The common factors between millipedes and centipedes are that they are both pests, have many legs, and prey and feed on small insects such as spiders and ants.

Now let's understand how one can distinguish between millipedes and centipedes. The distinct characteristics will easily help you identify centipedes and millipedes.

Centipedes and millipedes both have segments on their bodies. Both centipedes and millipedes have different pairs of legs on their bodies. Millipedes belong to the class Diplopoda, while centipedes belong to the class Chilopoda. There are differences in the diet of both these insects; centipedes are carnivorous and feed on small insects, while millipedes are detritivorous and feed on decaying matter. The head of millipedes is more rounded compared to the head of centipedes.

The feature that will help you to identify millipedes and centipedes is whether they have one pair of legs in each segment or two pairs of legs in each segment on their body.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'How many legs do centipede have?' Then why not take a look at 'How many legs do lobster have?' or 'House centipede facts'.

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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