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Difference Between Centipede and Millipede

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Centipede and Millipede 

The largest phylum of the animal kingdom is Arthropoda. This is more clear from the fact that out of all the species found on earth 78% belongs to phylum Arthropoda. It is the 6th phylum in the animal kingdom and the members of this phylum have jointed appendages (arthro-jointed; pods-appendages). Both centipede and millipede belong to this phylum.


  • Scientific name - Scolopendra

  • Kingdom - Animalia

  • Phylum - Arthropoda

  • Subphylum - Mandibulata

  • Class – Chilopoda


  • Scientific name - Julus

  • Kingdom - Animalia

  • Phylum - Arthropoda

  • Subphylum - Mandibulata

  • Class - Diplopoda

Subphylum- Mandibulata

Phylum Arthropoda is so much vast that it is again divided into 3 subphyla as

  • Trilobitomorpha

  • Chelicerata

  • Mandibulata

Mandibulata is the largest subphylum of Arthropoda. It has 6 classes.

Since millipede and centipede belong to mandibulata we will restrict our discussion to this subphylum only.

General Characteristics Of Organisms Placed In Mandibulata Are-

  • Habitat can be terrestrial/aquatic/volant/ parasite.

  • Respiration by gills/trachea.

  • Compound/simple eyes may be present.

  • Development may include the presence of larva (indirect) or may not (direct).

  • Pair of structures like antenna, mandible, maxilla may be present or may be absent.

Here two classes of mandibulata out of six are discussed to which centipede and millipede belong.

Class - Chilopoda

  • The members of this class are known as centipedes or hundred leggers. Even though they are called a hundred leggers but they have nearly about 30-300 legs.

  • They have a Dorso-ventrally flattened body.

  • These organisms are poisonous to men.

  • They respire through the trachea.

  • Their excretion takes place through Malpighian tubules.

  • They have one pair of antennas, one pair of mandibles, and two pairs of the maxilla.

Examples- Scolopendra/Centipede, 

Alpes grandidieri- feather tail centipede

Lithobius forficatus - stone centipede

Ethmostigmus trigonous - blue ring centipede

Class - Diplopoda

  • There are around 8000 species that are estimated to be in Diplopoda out of which only 3000 are known to us.

  • The members of this class are known as Millipede/thousand leggers.

  • They have a cylindrical body.

  • They are non-poisonous to men

  • Respiration takes place by the trachea.

  • Excretion takes place by Malpighian tubules.

  • They may have simple eyes or can be absent. Compound eyes are absent.

  • One pair of antenna, One pair of mandate tables, and One pair of the maxilla are present on their body.

  • Examples-Millipede/Julus, Octoglena sierra, Anadenobolus monilia, sis, E plus pulchripes, etc.

(Image to be added soon)

Difference Between Centipede and Millipede

After knowing the general characteristics of the class to which these organisms belong, it becomes easy to differentiate between the two organisms. Some people might think both are same but the following table will make the difference more clear -

Centipede V/S Millipedes




Other Names

Hundred leggers

Thousand leggers


Centipede has a flat body

Millipede has a cylindrical body


The average length is from 2mm to 38 cm.

Their average millimeter is from a few millimeters to 30 cm.


Have shades of brown and red. Have dark coloration.

Generally have black/brown color; some species are brightly colored.

Feeding Habits

Centipede is carnivorous and eats small insects.

The millipede is detritivores and eats dead and decayed matter.


They are found in moist habitats like soil, leaf litter, wooden logs, tropics, rainforests, etc.

They are found in gardens and flower beds. They prefer humid places.

Reproductive Ability

Here copulation is not found, female receive the spermatophore and lays around ten to fifty eggs at a time

Male has gonopods which transfer male gametes to female body.10-300eggs are laid at a time.

Body Segments

They have more than 20 segments

They have fifteen or more segments

Effect On Humans

They are venomous and poisonous to man.

They are not poisonous to man but can affect vegetation in fields.

Fun Facts

Do you know that the largest existing species of centipede is the Amazonian centipede - Scolopendra gigantic (30cm in length).

Also, millipedes are the oldest land animals found on earth!

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FAQs on Difference Between Centipede and Millipede

1. Why Millipede Is Known As Thousand Leggers And Centipedes As Hundred Leggers?

Millipede has more than 20 segments and each segment carries two pairs of appendages. Millipedes belong to the class Diplopoda which got its name from two segments(Diplo). This fusion makes two pairs in one segment. As such no species of millipede have exactly a thousand legs. They have approximately 750 legs.

Centipedes name is derived from the Latin name 'cent'' which means a hundred and 'pede' means legs. No centipede has a hundred legs in number. Each segment in centipede carries one pair of appendages and there are around 15 or more segments found in millipede.

2. Is There Any Similarity Between Millipedes And Centipedes Apart From Differences?

Millipedes and Centipedes do have common things like they both belong to phylum Arthropoda, they are multiple leggers, they are found all over the world especially in tropics. They prefer moist/humid habitats. The choice of such habitat is because of their skin which is soft with no hard covering and can lose water easily in a dry environment. Their bodies are segmented. In both centipede and millipedes, respiration takes place through trachea and excretion takes place through Malpighian tubules. Both of them have one pair of mandibles and one pair of the antenna. Centipedes and millipedes lack backbone and exoskeleton.

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