Millipede Vs Centipede : What’s the difference?

Why was the centipede dropped from the insect football team?

He took too long to put his boots on!   

And it would really take a long time put 100’s of boots! 

All of you must have seen some wriggling creatures with hundreds of legs running around the floor, on your room or on the garden of your house. You may also know that we call those insect-y looking creature Millipede or Centipede? But have you ever really been certain that if its a Millipede or a Centipede?  If not then I’ll try to explain the different between them.

The thing that makes them similar is exactly what differentiates them. The most peculiar character or appearance both of them share is a long elongated vermiform body with hundreds of legs. But that is what makes them easier to identify as well.

Both Millipedes and Centipedes belong to the Phylum Arthropoda and Sub-Phylum- Myriapoda. But, they belong to different classes, Millipede belong to the class Diplopoda and Centipedes belong to the class Chilopoda. Most people think of Millipedes and Centipedes as insects, but they are not Insects, Insects have 3 pairs of Legs and 3 body segments but Millipedes and Centipedes have hundreds of Legs and many body segments. (And also Spiders are not insects)

Centipedes are the more flattened and flexible ones with one pair of legs per body segments. The name Centipede means “100 legs“, but they usually have about 15 to 170 pairs of legs. Apart from that, a feature unique to Centipedes is the presence of Forcipules, a modified pincer like foreleg which also holds the venom of Centipedes (Venom: Not fatal to humans). On the head, Centipedes have relatively large antenna. Centipedes are fast runners. On the basis of diet, Centipedes are Carnivores.

Millipedes are the sub-cylindrical ones with two pairs of legs per body segments (Hence Diplopoda, Diplo- two, Poda- Legs) . The name Millipede  means (Latin) “Thousands of feet, but no species with 1000 legs have been recorded so far (Most so far: 750 legs in Illacme plenipes). No forcipules are found in Millipedes. The Millipedes are not venomous but most species have a gland that can cause allergies. The antenna are relatively small. Millipedes are slow walkers On the basis of diet, Millipedes are primarily Detrivores with few known species being herbivores.

Both Centipede and Millipede are found in similar habitat which includes stony crevices, fallen leaves and under the stones, Millipedes mostly prefer decayed vegetation.


Millipede (Photo: Coolclicks )
Centipede (Photo source : University of Nebraska) 



For more on differences between other animals, read my blog on : Are they Same?  (

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