An assortment of millipedes. Thankfully, not to scale. (Photo by Animalparty via Wikipedia)
It’s been a buggy summer here at Caterpickles. I’ve tried to distract The Eight-Year-Old with art, but she keeps coming back to bugs. As you may recall, so far this summer we’ve learned that:
Which left The Eight-Year-Old with a third question: If centipedes and millipedes can have the same number of legs, what’s the difference between them?
I’ll be honest. I didn’t really want to go into great detail on this answer. So I’m just going to give you the highlights.
Centipedes eat meat, most millipedes eat decaying plants
Centipedes are carnivores. Most eat spiders and other small invertebrates. One species, the Amazonian giant centipede, which can grow to 30 cm in length, has been known to eat bats, mice, lizards, and frogs, as well as spiders.
Millipedes on the other hand, eat decaying leaves and other dead plant matter. Very few are predatory.
Scolopendra gigantea, aka the giant centipede who eats bats. Man, I want to run just looking at this picture. (Photo by Katka Nemčoková via Wikipedia)
Centipedes have fangs, millipedes don’t
Because they are predators, centipedes are equipped with venomous fangs, which they use to paralyze their prey.
Millipedes have a more peaceful lifestyle. Although millipedes can wreak havoc in a greenhouse, their plant-loving nature means they can get away with simply oozing noxious chemicals from their pores when they need to defend themselves.
Centipedes are fast, millipedes are slow
Again, because centipedes prey on live things, they move quickly. A millipede’s favorite plant-based snack doesn’t typically get up and run away at the sight of them, so millipedes are relatively slow.
Centipedes have one pair of legs per body segment, millipedes have two
Those horrors aside, the main difference between centipedes and millipedes is the number of feet they have per body segment. Centipedes have one pair of legs per body segment. Millipedes have two pairs of jointed legs on most of their body segments.
And once again, that’s about all I can take of that.