“What’s the difference between a centipede and a millipede?”

An assortment of millipedes. Thankfully, not to scale. (Photo by Animalparty via Wikipedia)

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)

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.

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About Shala Howell

Writer of things ranging from optical network switching white papers to genetic testing patient education materials to historical fiction set in an 1880s asylum. When I’m not scratching my head over pesky characters who refuse to do things how I want them done or dreaming of my next book (which will of course be much easier to write than the current one), my writerly self can be found blogging about life with a very curious Nine-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, or musing about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.wordpress.com.
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2 Responses to “What’s the difference between a centipede and a millipede?”

  1. bobraxton says:

    I stand enlightened. Thank you.

    Like

  2. Pingback: “Are there bugs that get on other bugs?” | CATERPICKLES

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