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8 Key Differences Between Centipedes and Millipedes

Centipedes and Millipedes: Differences in Appearance, Behavior, and Harm

Centipedes and millipedes are often mistaken for each other due to their similarities in appearance and habitat. However, these creatures have notable differences in behavior, habitat, and the potential harm they can inflict on humans and pets.

In this article, we will explore these differences to help you understand these fascinating critters better. Centipedes vs.

Millipedes: Differences in Appearance

The primary difference between centipedes and millipedes lies in their body shape and the number of legs they possess. Centipedes have long, flattened bodies with multiple segments and long legs protruding from each side.

The number of legs they have depends on the species. For instance, a house centipede has 15 pairs of legs, while a giant centipede has 21 or more pairs of legs.

The legs are thin and possess sharp claws that they use to grip and hunt their prey. On the other hand, millipedes have cylindrical-shaped bodies with many segments, but their legs are shorter than those of centipedes.

Each body segment of a millipede has two pairs of legs, giving them a gentle, wavy motion when they move. They possess no claws, and their legs are used primarily for support and locomotion.

Differences in Behavior and Habitat

Another significant difference between centipedes and millipedes is their behavior and habitat. Centipedes are primarily carnivorous and are known for hunting other insects, spiders, and small animals.

They hunt by injecting venom through their front legs that paralyzes their prey so that they can feed on them. In contrast, millipedes are scavengers and detritivores that chew on dead leaves and other plant matter.

They do not hunt, but instead, they crawl slowly through damp environments, feeding on anything edible they come across. They also possess defensive glands that can deter predators by exuding a toxic chemical that is foul-smelling and unpleasant to taste.

Both centipedes and millipedes tend to prefer damp places and can be found in bathrooms, closets, basements, or attics. Centipedes are more commonly found indoors, while millipedes tend to thrive outdoors, where they can find food and shelter.

Differences in Harm to Humans and Pets

Both centipedes and millipedes have venomous bites, but the severity of the venom and the resulting harm differs between them. Centipedes can bite humans and pets and, in some cases, cause an allergic reaction that may lead to symptoms like swelling, redness, and pain at the bite site.

In severe cases, the venom may cause problems like fever, nausea, and muscle weakness. Some centipede species, like the giant centipede, possess potent neurotoxins that can be lethal to some animals, including humans.

Their venom contains proteins that cause severe pain, swelling, and numbness that can last for several hours or days. Millipedes, on the other hand, are generally harmless to humans and pets.

They do have glands that contain cyanide, which they release as a defensive mechanism when they feel attacked. Although the cyanide released is not enough to harm humans, it can cause eye irritation, skin redness, and other mild symptoms.

Centipede Identification and Behavior

Now that weve covered the major differences between centipedes and millipedes let’s focus on centipedes to explain their physical characteristics, diet, habitat, and behavior.

Physical Characteristics

Centipedes are elongated creatures with long antennae on their heads, which they use to detect movement and vibration. Their long legs are highly mobile, allowing them to navigate through small spaces and move quickly when chasing their prey.

Most types of house centipedes range from yellowish-brown to reddish-brown and have three dark stripes that run down their backs. However, some species have distinct markings and colors that help them blend in with their surroundings.

For instance, the common stone centipede has a dark brown body with light brown stripes that give it a camouflage look.

Carnivorous Diet

As mentioned earlier, centipedes are carnivorous and hunt other insects and arthropods. They move quickly by undulating their legs in a wave-like pattern, which allows them to pounce on their prey and inject their venom.

Their diet primarily consists of insects, spiders, crickets, and silverfish. They can also eat other centipedes and small animals like lizards, birds, and rodents.

Habitat and Behavior

Centipedes thrive in damp, dark places where they can find food and shelter. They are most commonly found in bathrooms, basements, laundry rooms, and other areas with high humidity.

They like to hide in small crevices, behind baseboards, or in cabinets. Centipedes are active during the night and will crawl out of their hiding places to hunt their prey.

They are fast, agile, and silent, allowing them to catch their prey by surprise. They will use their front legs to inject their venom, paralyzing their prey, and then use their other legs to carry it back to their hiding place to eat.


In conclusion, understanding the differences between centipedes and millipedes is crucial to appreciate their unique characteristics, habitat, and behavior. While both creatures share common features, they have distinct physical and behavioral differences that set them apart.

Therefore, its essential to identify which of these creatures you’re dealing with when attempting to get rid of them or avoid them. We hope this article has provided you with valuable insights and knowledge about these intriguing creatures.

Millipede Identification and Behavior

Millipedes are fascinating creatures with numerous legs, cylindrical bodies, and fascinating behaviors. In this section, we will explore the physical characteristics, diet, and habitat, and behavior of millipedes.

Physical Characteristics

Millipedes have a unique physical appearance with numerous pairs of legs. Their bodies are long and cylindrical, typically ranging from 3/4 inch to 4 inches in length.

Some of the larger species, like the giant African millipede, can even grow up to 11 inches long. Millipedes come in various colors, such as black, brown, red, and white.

They possess hard exoskeletons that provide protection and support for their bodies. One of the most notable physical features of millipedes is the numerous leg pairs that cover their bodies.

Each segment of a millipede’s body has two pairs of legs, with some mature adults having more than 400 legs.

Detritivorous Diet

Millipedes are detritivores and feed primarily on decaying plant matter, live plants, and dead animals. They have unique mouthparts that help them eat food, including strong jaws that can grind live plant material, fungi, and other organic matter.

Some species of millipedes have digestive enzymes in their gut that allow them to break down cellulose and other complex molecules found in decaying plant matter. This helps them to extract more nutrients from their food and survive when their food supply is limited.

Habitat and Behavior

Millipedes prefer to live in moist places such as greenhouses, basements, and other lower floors with high humidity levels. They are also found in woodlands, meadows, and gardens where they can find decaying organic matter to feed on.

Millipedes typically burrow into the soil or hide under leaves, logs, and other debris during the day to avoid predators. They become active at night when they come out to feed, mate, and lay eggs.

Millipedes have various behaviors used to protect themselves from predators. These include curling up into a tight ball when disturbed, releasing a noxious fluid when threatened, and secreting hydrogen cyanide.

Centipede and

Millipede Life Cycle

Like all arthropods, centipedes and millipedes go through a life cycle that includes an egg stage, nymph stage, and an adult stage. In this section, we will explore the life cycle of both centipedes and millipedes.

Centipede Life Cycle

Centipedes lay eggs in soil or other damp areas. The eggs hatch into nymphs, which resemble miniature versions of adult centipedes with fewer leg pairs.

The number of leg pairs increases as the nymph grows and molts several times before reaching its final form as an adult. Centipedes have the ability to regenerate lost limbs and can molt up to ten times during their lifetime.

Their average lifespan in the wild is between three to seven years, but they can live longer in captivity.

Millipede Life Cycle

Millipedes also lay eggs in soil, and the eggs hatch into nymphs that grow and molt several times before reaching adulthood. As with centipedes, the number of segments and legs increase at each stage of the life cycle.

Millipedes have a longer lifespan than centipedes. Some species can live up to 10 years in the wild, while others can live over 15 years in captivity.


In conclusion, understanding the characteristics, habitat, and behavior of centipedes and millipedes can be essential to protect yourself and your pets from harm. Additionally, learning about their life cycles can help us understand their role in the ecosystem and how we can help protect them.

By leaving them be in their natural habitats and taking precautions to avoid their bites or toxic secretions, we can coexist with these fascinating creatures.

Centipede and Millipede Infestations

Centipedes and millipedes can become a nuisance when they infest homes and other structures. In this section, we will explore the signs of infestation and prevention and control measures.

Signs of Infestation

One of the most apparent signs of a centipede or millipede infestation is seeing the creatures themselves. These creatures are nocturnal and are usually seen at night when they come out to hunt or feed.

Centipedes are attracted to other insects, while millipedes are drawn to decaying plant matter and live plants. Another sign of infestation is visible damage to the structure, such as chew marks or burrow holes in wooden structures or fabrics.

Millipedes can cause damage to live plants, causing them to die or wilt.

Prevention and Control Measures

Preventing centipede and millipede infestations is essential to avoid damage to your home and protect yourself and your pets from harm. Here are some prevention and control measures to consider:


Caulking and Sealing: Centipedes and millipedes can enter homes through small cracks and gaps. Sealing these entry points with caulking or weather-stripping can prevent them from entering.

2. Dehumidifiers and Fans: Centipedes and millipedes prefer moist environments.

Reducing indoor humidity levels with a dehumidifier or using fans to promote air circulation can eliminate areas of moisture and make your home less attractive to these pests. 3.

Cleaning and Decluttering: Removing clutter, debris, and unnecessary items from your home can eliminate hiding places for centipedes and millipedes. Frequent cleaning and vacuuming can also help remove any eggs, larvae, or food sources.

4. Removal of Hiding Places: Centipedes and millipedes like to hide in dark, damp places like basements, crawl spaces, and attics.

Removing clutter and debris that provides hiding places can reduce the chances of infestation.

Treatment of Centipede and Millipede Bites

Centipede and millipede bites are not usually life-threatening, but they can be painful and uncomfortable. In this section, we will explore the symptoms of bites and treatment and care.

Symptoms of Bite

Centipede and millipede bites can cause various symptoms. These include pain, itching, swelling, redness, numbness, blistering, headache, elevated heart rate, difficulty breathing, throat swelling, hives, and drowsiness.

The severity of the symptoms depends on the species of the centipede or millipede and the person’s sensitivity to their venom. In some cases, people may experience an allergic reaction to the venom, which may require emergency medical attention.

Treatment and Care

If you are bitten by a centipede or millipede, the first thing to do is to clean the bite site with soap and water. This can help reduce the risk of infection.

Applying a cold compress to the bite can also help reduce swelling and pain. Taking over-the-counter pain medications and antihistamines can also help relieve itching, swelling, and other symptoms.

However, if you experience severe or persistent symptoms, it’s essential to seek medical attention immediately. If you experience difficulty breathing, throat swelling, hives, drowsiness, or other severe symptoms, call poison control or go to the emergency room immediately.

They will provide you with the appropriate treatment, such as antivenom or other medications, to manage the symptoms effectively.


Centipedes and millipedes are fascinating creatures that play an essential role in the ecosystem. However, infestations can cause damage to your home and put yourself and your pets in harm’s way.

Knowing how to identify the signs of infestation and implementing preventive measures can help keep them out of your home. If you or someone you know is bitten by a centipede or millipede, it’s essential to seek medical attention immediately to reduce the risk of complications.

By understanding how to prevent and manage infestations, you can coexist with these creatures in a safe and healthy manner.

Miscellaneous Information

In this section, we will provide some additional information on centipedes and millipedes, including leg movements, common types, and Terminix services for control.

Centipede and Millipede Leg Movements

Centipedes and millipedes have distinct leg movements that allow them to navigate their environment. The legs on each side of their body move together in a coordinated and synchronized manner, creating a wave-like displacement or oscillation.

As centipedes move, they avoid stepping on the limb in front of them, which helps them move quickly and smoothly. Millipedes, on the other hand, alternate their leg movement on each side of the body to create a wave-like motion that propels them forward.

Common Types of Centipedes and Millipedes

Centipedes and millipedes come in various types, each with unique physical characteristics and behaviors. Some of the most common types are:

Desert Centipedes – These centipedes are found in the deserts of the southwestern United States and are usually dark brown in color.

They are larger than most centipedes, with the ability to grow up to 9 inches in length. House Centipedes – These centipedes are commonly found in homes, particularly in damp areas like bathrooms and basements.

They are yellowish-brown and have long, flattened bodies with many legs. Garden Millipedes – These millipedes are found in gardens and other outdoor areas.

They are brown or black and have a smooth and shiny exoskeleton. They feed on decaying plant matter and can be beneficial to soil health.

Terminix Services for Centipede and Millipede Control

Terminix offers a range of services to help homeowners control centipedes and millipedes infestations. The first step is an examination of the home to identify the source and extent of the infestation.

Based on the findings, Terminix experts will recommend the most appropriate treatment plan. Treatment may involve using insecticidal sprays, dusts, or baits, or other methods.

Terminix also offers a re-treatment policy to ensure that the infestation is completely resolved. In addition to treatment, Terminix can provide ongoing protection against centipedes and millipedes to prevent future infestations.

This includes identifying potential entry points and providing recommendations for

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