What’s the Difference Between Centipedes and Millipedes?

At first glance, people might confuse centipedes and millipedes. Both animals have segmented bodies and a lot of legs. They live in dark, damp environments. Beyond that, they really are very different.

One of the differences between centipedes and millipedes is in their appearance. Centipedes have long bodies that are rather flat. Their legs seem to stick out to the sides of their body. Centipedes have one pair of legs on almost every body segment.

Some types of centipedes can reach 8″ in length. Most types of centipedes are less than 3″ long when they are full-grown. The common house centipedes are about 1half an inch long.

Millipedes have long, slender bodies. Millipedes look almost tube-shaped. They resemble dark-colored worms. Their legs seem to come out of the bottom of their body. Millipedes have very short legs. There are two pair of legs attached to each body segment.

Millipedes normally grow to 3″-4″ in length, although some occasionally reach as long as 8″. It is common to find millipedes curled up in a coil.

Another difference between centipedes and millipedes is in their diet. Centipedes are predators of insects and spiders. Behind their heads centipedes have a pair of claws. The claws are attached to venom glands. Centipedes use the venom to paralyze their prey. Large centipedes can deliver a painful bite.

Millipedes are scavengers. In the damp environment where millipedes live, their normal food is decaying plant material. Millipedes sometimes damage living plants. Some millipedes will also eat dead insects. Several types of millipedes give off an unpleasant odor. Some millipedes are actually toxic to predators.

Even though centipedes and millipedes are very different, controlling them begins with the same steps. Homeowners should inspect the outside of the home for hiding places and entryways.

Firewood should be stacked on a rack and moved as far from the house as possible. A rake should be used to move mulch and leaves away from the foundation. A clear zone that is 12″-24″ wide will be less attractive to centipedes and millipedes.

Exterior doors should close tightly and damaged weather-stripping should be replaced. Crawl space access doors should close securely. Crawl space vents and ground-level windows should be screened.

An insecticide barrier will help prevent these pests from gathering on the foundation. The sun and weather will break down the insecticide, so it will have to be re-applied periodically. Many people prefer to have pest control professionals make the insecticide applications.