Skip to Content

The Difference Between Millipedes And Centipedes


The millipede and centipede both are classified as arthropods but that is about the only similarity they share. Quite honestly, the differences between the two are so drastic that, once explained, you will never mix them up again.

The centipede sports a long antenna on a body consisting of many segments. There is one pair of legs in each segment. These legs extend from the sides of the centipede and are quite visible, trailing backward behind the body. Their long legs enable them to move very quickly as they run about. The centipede is capable of biting and actually has feeding habits supported by their ability to bite. They are predators, killing and eating their prey.

In comparison, the characteristics and description of the millipede are exactly opposite to that of the centipede. The millipede has short antennae and is equipped with two pairs of legs per body segment except for the first 3 segments, which only have one pair. These legs are not visible and do not trail from the body like that of the centipede. Because of the arrangement of their legs, the millipede is a slow mover. Another notable trait of the millipede is that they do not bite. They obtain their food by scavenging and are not too particular about what they eat

When disturbed, millipedes will often curl into a tight ball much like that of a pill bug. Even though they do not bite, their method of protection is being able to eject fluid that smells bad and causes irritation to one’s skin and eyes. Centipedes will bite humans on occasion. If bitten, people can expect a red bump that swells and itches or stings much like that of a bee sting. However, neither centipedes nor millipedes are considered dangerous to humans or pets. Nor do they transmit diseases to humans. Neither of these arthropods is known to damage food, furniture, or plants like other more harmful pests.

The centipede and millipede each have an unsettling effect on people who see them scurrying around on their basement floor or in their flower gardens. Because of their appearance, people would prefer not to have these arthropods in or around their homes. There are a few suggestions that may discourage them from inhabiting your immediate area.

  • Moisture is needed for survival. Correct any water problems in or around your home that may satisfy their water needs.
  • Remove any moisture-holding ground cover and any organic material that is close to the foundation. These are great attractions to the arthropods.
  • Store firewood away from the house. Inspect for clinging bugs and insects before bringing the wood inside.
  • Any doors or windows that are low to the ground should be properly sealed to eliminate easy entry.

If you've found these or other pests in or around your home, Big Blue Bug Solutions can help. Offering effective home pest control services in Providence and throughout Rhode Island as well as parts of Massachusetts and Eastern Connecticut. Contact us today to learn more.