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Centipedes vs. Millipedes

For many of us, our first introduction to centipedes and millipedes is in a video game. However, if we came face to face with these arthropods, would you be able to tell them apart? Though they are alike, they have traits that set them apart from one another. We’ve gathered information to help you spot the differences between centipedes and millipedes.

Millipede vs Centipede Infograhpic

Myriapods 101

Myriapods, like centipedes and millipedes, get their name from the Greek word myriapoda which means countless feet. These arthropods are known for their many legs. However, they don’t always hatch with all of their legs in place. Some centipedes and millipedes continue to grow new segments throughout their life. Their many legs aren’t the only characteristic they share. They have a similar body structure that includes their head and a segmented body. They also have antennae. There are about 8,000 species of centipedes and 80,000 species of millipedes worldwide.



Though centipedes and millipedes have a similar shape, there are distinct differences in their appearance. Centipedes have an elongated, flat body. They range in color from yellow to dark brown. However, the most common colors are brown or reddish-orange. They have claw-like structures that carry venom. Though they are typically associated with having 100 legs, they can actually have 15-177 pairs of legs. Each segment has one pair of legs. Centipedes have a waxy layer on their exoskeleton. These arthropods can grow between 1 centimeter and 12 inches. Millipedes come in a variety of colors including yellow, blue, and purple, but they are usually brown. Some species of millipedes can actually be bioluminescent. Millipedes are long and slender, and each segment has two pairs of legs. They can have anywhere from 30 to over 90 pairs of legs.



One of the best ways to tell these arthropods apart is by their behavior. Centipedes feed on insects and smaller arthropods while millipedes eat decaying organic matter. Centipedes are quick and will leave when approached. Millipedes take a different approach to danger. They curl up and remain motionless while secreting a toxic chemical. Centipedes and millipedes are both active at night which sometimes makes it harder to spot them. Despite having multiple eyes, centipedes and millipedes have poor eyesight. Centipedes track prey through other senses including touch and smell.



Centipedes and millipedes can be found on every continent except Antarctica. They live on land and typically prefer moist areas. Centipedes can be found in a variety of habitats and they like areas that are damp and dark. A few species can handle living in dryer environments and some of the larger centipede species are found in deserts. Millipedes need to live in areas with moisture. They are known for living in deciduous forests because these areas have moist soil and plenty of leaf litter to live in. Some species of millipedes can be found in grasslands. Centipedes and millipedes can end up in your yard and home. Centipedes like to hang out in basements, bathrooms, and even closets. Millipedes can be spotted outside in gardens and flowerbeds. When they make their way inside, they often hide in crawlspaces.



While centipedes and millipedes can be an annoyance, they aren’t typically dangerous. Millipedes don’t bite or sting. They can usually be handled as long as hands are washed after touching them. They are known to secrete toxic chemicals, but these chemicals are released in small quantities. Centipedes can bite, and if large enough, will pierce human skin. Their bites aren’t dangerous, but they can cause pain similar to a wasp sting. It’s best not to touch these arthropods. Millipedes are also known to travel in groups, which can make their presence more annoying. Spotting millipedes or centipedes is the most telling sign of an infestation.


Yard Bug Spray and Home Bug Spray

Though they aren’t threatening, you still won’t want them hanging around your house and yard. There are a few things you can do to keep these pests from invading. Since they prefer to live in damp areas, reducing the moisture in your home and yard can help keep them away. If you spot centipedes or millipedes, they can be removed by vacuuming the infested area. If you’re dealing with an infestation, using pesticides can help. Plant-based pesticides are not only effective at controlling a pest problem, they are also more family and environmentally-friendly. To protect your home, Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Yard Bug Spray, is a great solution. If these pests have made their way inside, Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Home Bug Spray will help to protect your home.

Centipedes and millipedes share several characteristics, but they still have distinct differences. Taking a closer look at their appearance as well as their behaviors can help you identify them. Though they aren’t dangerous, they can still become unwanted guests in your home. If you’re dealing with a pest problem, we want to help! Check out our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Pest Control products.

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