Difference Between Centipede and Millipede

Main Difference

The main difference between a centipede and millipede is the position of their legs. The legs of centipedes spread away from the body while that of millipedes point down to the ground. In centipedes, there is one pair of legs on each segment of their body while there are two pairs on each segment in millipedes.

Centipede vs. Millipede

Centipedes and millipedes are arthropods belonging to the subphylum Myriapoda. Their body is divided into a large number of segments. Centipedes belong to the class Chilopoda which means “lip foot” because they have a unique feature called forcipules or venom claws, which is a modification of the first pair of legs which look like mouthparts but they are not true mouthparts, their function is to capture the prey and inject venom into the prey. Millipedes belong to class Diplopoda which means “double foot” as their name millipedes have two pairs of legs per segment of the body. Centipedes are known for their speed and running while millipedes are slow-moving or motionless and they are adapted for burrowing or inhabiting small crevices. Centipedes are carnivores with claws modified into venomous fangs. They are swift predators who prey upon a variety of other invertebrates such as spiders, mollusks, insects and other centipedes. On the other hand millipedes are detritivores, eating dead and decaying plant matter. A few millipedes are carnivores, but they have no venom.

Comparison Chart

Centipede is an arthropod which has a flattened body with many segments and each segment has one pair of legs of which the 1st pair is transformed into forcipules.The millipede is an arthropod which has a cylindrical segmented body and each segment bears two pairs of legs, and unlike centipedes, millipedes have no forcipules.
Centipedes are swift runners.Millipedes are slow-moving.
Centipedes are carnivores.Millipedes are detritivores.
Centipedes are flexible and the body is dorsoventrally flattened.Millipedes are rigid and subcylindrical in shape.
Centipedes have long antennaeMillipedes have short antennae
Waxy Layer
The waxy layer is absent.The waxy layer is present on the exoskeleton.
Venom is present.Venom is absent.
They are capable of stinging or biting their prey.They cannot bite or sting.
Reproductive Behavior
Copulation does not occur.Copulation occurs.

What is Centipede?

Centipedes are arthropods which belong to class Chilopoda under the subphylum Myriapoda. They are elongated metameric creatures with many pairs of legs. The body is divided into two parts, the head, and the segmented trunk. Centipedes have rounded or flattened head. A pair of antennae is present at the anterior margin of the head. These antennae are major sense organs. Centipedes usually lack eyes, but sometimes variable numbers of ocelli are present which form compound eyes. They are used only for discerning light and dark and have no true vision. Mouthparts are also present at the underside of the head. The segmented trunk consists of 15 or more segments. Each segment has one pair of jointed legs. Centipedes have a varying number of legs; they can have 30 to 354 legs. Interestingly, centipedes always have an odd number of pairs of legs. It means that no centipede naturally has exactly 100 legs.

The size of centipedes can range from few millimeters to 12 inches depending on the species. They can be found in different habitats. They prefer to live in moist habitats under rocks, leaf litter, logs or rotting wood. They are rarely present in hot and desert regions. Centipedes breathe through a tracheal system; spiracles are present on each body segment. Malpighian tubules are present for the excretion of waste products. In reproduction, copulation does not occur and male deposits sperms as spermatophore which is taken up by a female and inserted it into her genitals. Egg-laying occurs in the soil and young ones are produced. Centipedes are mostly nocturnal so that humans rarely see them. They can be dangerous to humans because of their painful bite. In defense mechanism, centipedes release toxic and harmful chemicals that can cause damage to their predators.

What is Millipede?

Millipedes are arthropods which belong to class Diplopoda under the subphylum Myriapoda. The name “millipede” is derived from Latin word which means “a thousand feet,” but no species has 1000 legs. The maximum number of legs can reach up to 750. Millipedes have an elongated cylindrical body which is composed of a large number of metameric segments. The 1st segment is without legs, 2nd, 3rd and 4th body segments have one pair of legs and after that, each segment consists of two pairs of legs. One pair of antennae is present at the anterior margin of the head which is used as a sensory organ. Millipedes have simple eyes called ocelli.

The size of millipedes ranges from 2 mm to 14 inches in length depending upon the species. Like centipedes, millipedes also breathe through spiracles which are connected to a system of tracheae. For the excretion of waste products, malpighian tubules are present. Reproduction involves copulation. Males have modified legs which are used to transfer sperms to the females during mating. The position of gonopods is different among different species of millipedes. Millipedes curl their body into a tight coil to protect themselves from the predators. They cannot move away rapidly from predators because they are slow-moving. They also secrete poisonous and irritating toxic chemicals to deter their predators.

Key Differences

  1. Centipedes belong to class Chilopoda while millipedes belong to Diplopoda.
  2. Centipedes are carnivores whereas millipedes are detritivores.
  3. Centipedes are fast-moving, on the other hand, millipedes are slow-moving.
  4. Centipedes have forcipules, on the flip side, millipedes do not have poisonous legs or forcipules.

Comparison Video

YouTube video


Centipedes and millipedes show some similarities, but they are two different species of the phylum Arthropoda. Millipedes have more legs than that of centipedes. Feeding behavior is also different. Centipedes can move quickly because of their fast speed while millipedes are slow-moving and they can not catch their prey quickly.

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