The Difference Between Millipede and Centipede

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Often times we are asked the question, what is the difference between millipede and centipede. We have the answer for you! Both of these arthropods in the subphylum Myriapoda means, many legs. Although there are differences between these pests, they both like damp conditions to thrive, which can be on the inside or outside of the home.

How can you tell the difference between millipede and centipede?

Millipedes have two legs per body segment and are typically have a body shaped like a cylinder or rod. Centipedes have one leg per body segment and their bodies are often flat.

Do millipedes really have a thousand legs?

No. Most millipedes have from 40-400 legs with the maximum number of legs reaching 750. Most centipedes have from 30-50 legs with one order of centipedes always having much more legs reaching up to 350 legs.

Why do millipedes and centipedes have so many legs?

Millipedes and centipedes are metameric animals, meaning that their body is divided into segments most of which are completely identical. Insects are thought to have evolved from metameric animals after specializing body segments for specific functions such as the head for sensation and the thorax for locomotion.

How do they get around with so many legs?

Millipedes move their legs in a wave-like undulation along their body propelling themselves forward (or backward!) against the substrate. This method of movement rather slow it is great for burrowing into the ground, a task that millipedes excel at.

Centipedes are able to attain rapid speeds by undulating their body slightly while walking. Centipede legs also grow in length towards the end of the body, which allows legs a bigger gait by avoiding the leg immediately in front.

Where do millipedes and centipedes live?

Millipedes and centipedes don’t have the waxy cuticle of insects so they must stay away from extreme sunlight to avoid desiccation. They typically require moist microhabitats in landscaping like under rocks or in leaf litter. Both millipedes and centipedes will dry our and die without moisture. Often times these critters will be found in damp environments around the home like the basement, kitchen and bathroom.

What do they eat?

Almost all millipedes are detritivores eating decaying plant material and are important in recycling nutrients. Centipedes are strictly predators and their first pair of legs has been modified into poison claws for grasping and paralyzing prey.

If centipedes or millipedes are becoming a nuisance in your home, contact your Saratoga NY exterminator for an inspection and treatment of your pest control problem. We hope the information above from your Saratoga pest control professionals can help you tell the difference between millipedes and centipedes. Thomas Pest Services provides pest control services to Saratoga County homes and businesses along with Albany County, Columbia County, Renneselear County, Schenectday, Fulton, Warren and Washington.


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