Centipede vs. Millipede: What is the Difference Between Centipede vs. Millipede?

Centipedes and Millipedes are multi-legged creatures with many legs that are found in dark damp places. But how do you know the difference between the two? Read this article to find out.
Centipede vs Millipede: 7 Differences, Examples, Pros & Cons

Both centipedes and millipedes belong to the multi-legged creature group but have many differences that set them apart. The biggest centipede vs. millipede difference lies in their appearance. A centipede has its legs positioned outwards like claws while the legs of a millipede are positioned directly beneath its body, towards the ground.

Let’s take a closer look at millipede vs. centipede:

BodyBoth centipedes and millipedes have segmented cylindrical bodies
AntennaeCentipedes have longer antennae than millipedes
LegsCentipedes have outward positioned legs while millipedes do not
ClassCentipede class is Chilopoda while the class of millipede is Diplopoda

What is a Centipede?

Centipede is a Chilopoda. It means ‘lip foot’ and defines its mouth-like claws that are paired singularly on every segment of its body. (Ref. 1)

What is a Centipede?

What is a Millipede?

The millipede is a Diplopoda arthropod. It means ‘double foot’ and defines its two pairs of legs on every segment of its body. (Ref. 2)

What is a Millipede?

Pros and Cons of Centipedes and Millipedes 

Centipedes Pros and Cons

Pros of a Centipede

  • Centipedes are helpful to humans in eliminating house pests like roaches, spiders, flies, et al.
  • They save and enrich your garden soil by turning harmful pests into dead organic matter.
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Cons of Centipede

  • Centipedes move fast due to their long legs and cannot be caught quickly to draw out of the home.
  • Some species of centipedes are fatal to humans.
Centipedes Pros and Cons

Millipedes Pros and Cons

Pros of Millipedes

  • Millipedes scavenge on decaying plants and are thus helpful in composting.
  • Millipedes do not bite.

Cons of Millipedes

  • Millipedes move together in groups and can create nuisance once inside your homes.
  • They emit fluid on being touched, which is an irritant for humans if handled with close contact.
Millipedes Pros and Cons

Centipede vs. Millipede Examples

Examples of Different Types of Centipedes

  • Texas Redheaded Centipede
  • Amazonian Giant Centipede
  • Giant Scolopendridae
  • Giant Desert Centipede
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Examples of Different Types of Millipedes

  • American Giant Millipede
  • Desert Millipede
  • Shocking Pink Dragon Millipede
  • Giant African Millipede

Considering the Similarities Between Centipedes and Millipedes

  • Both centipedes and millipedes belong to the group Myriapoda; the multi-legged creature group.
  • Both have segmented cylindrical bodies.
  • Both have poor vision and rely on the vibration, felt through their bodies, for responses.
  • Both use spiracles or tiny holes over their bodies for respiration.
  • Both lack copulatory organs, necessary for reproduction.  
  • Both shed their external skeleton while growing up and grow new bodies and legs each time they molt.
  • Both of them prefer dark environments.

7 Key Differences Between Centipedes and Millipedes That You Need To Know

Basis Centipede Millipede
Pair of legsCentipedes have a single set of legs on each of their segments.Millipede has one pair of legs on the first three segments and two sets of legs thereon.
Leg positioningIts legs are positioned on one side of its body, outwards, like claws.Millipede’s legs are positioned directly beneath its body, towards the ground.
AntennaeCentipedes have long antennae.Millipede has much shorter antennae.
Body shapeCentipedes have a flatter body.Millipedes have a rounder body.
SizeCentipedes can measure anywhere between 0.4 to 12 inches long.Millipedes can range between 0.4 to 10.5 inches.
HabitatCentipedes prefer a dry environment to dwell. However, they can survive in any habitat.Millipedes are found in moist and mushy forest regions.
Response to threatCentipedes bite and run away quickly.Millipedes coil up, freeze, and secrete a smelly toxin in defense.

Comparison Chart

Centipedes and Millipedes are multi-legged creatures with many legs that are found in dark damp places. But how do you know the difference between the two? Read this article to find out.

Comparison Video

Millipedes and Centipedes

Millipede and Centipede FAQs

What’s the Difference Between a Centipede and a Millipede?

The visual difference between centipedes and millipedes is the direction of their legs. Where a centipede’s pair of legs are bent outwards like claws, millipede legs are under their body and carry it through.

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Are Millipedes Carnivores?

No. Millipedes feed on decaying organic matter only.

Which is More Dangerous, a Millipede or a Centipede?

Centipedes are more dangerous than millipedes since a few different types of centipedes are known to cause fatality even to humans. However, all types of millipedes are harmless to humans.

Do Centipedes Eat Millipedes?

No, centipedes do not eat millipedes, generally. But in case they spot a hurt or almost dead millipede, they might eat them. 

Why You Should Never Squish a Centipede?

Centipedes excrete venom when squished. Where it is harmless to most humans, people allergic to insect bites would need medical attention, immediately. Larger centipedes may puncture human skin with their claws. The bee sting-like bite can cause burning, itching, or other similar irritations.

What is the Most Dangerous Centipede?

A giant centipede, scientifically known as Scolopendra Subspinipes, is the most dangerous centipede with its venom strong enough to cause heart attacks, kidney damage, to name a few. Many deaths have been reported owing to the giant centipede’s bite. (Ref. 3)

Why Can’t Centipedes have 100 Legs?

Centipedes do not have an even number of leg sets. And to have 100 legs, a centipede must have 50 pairs of legs. Thus, no centipede can have 100 legs for their pair of legs are always an odd number. 

What do Centipedes Hate?

Centipedes hate strong natural smells like that of peppermint. Peppermint oil not only drives them away but burns them instantly.

What do Millipedes Hate?

Millipedes hate the dominating smells like that of peppermint or tea-tree. The essential oils from these two plants are great repellants for millipedes.

Are Millipedes Faster than Centipedes?

No. Due to their short legs, millipedes are rather slower.

The Final Words

The physical characteristics of a millipede are different from a centipede with the former having their legs positioned downwards while the latter having them positioned outwards. You can observe this physical difference clearly from the images of centipedes and millipedes. Millipede or centipede difference also lies in their class. Millipedes belong to the Diplopoda class whereas the centipede class is Chilopoda. Also, centipedes are dangerous for humans while millipedes are not.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centipede 
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millipede
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scolopendra_subspinipes 
Alex Stantor
Alex Stantor

Alex Stantor is a Sorbonne University (Paris, France) graduate in Philosophy and Data Analysis. Currently, he is an Author and Researcher at Difference 101, he writes articles/blog posts on topics such as "thinking differently" and "the importance of difference". Alex is a passionate advocate of diversity in the workplace and in companies, and diversity and inclusion in corporate communications. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

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