The site navigation utilizes arrow, enter, escape, and space bar key commands. Left and right arrows move across top level links and expand / close menus in sub levels. Up and Down arrows will open main level menus and toggle through sub tier links. Enter and space open menus and escape closes them as well. Tab will move on to the next part of the site rather than go through menu items.

The Buzz

What's the Difference?: Centipede vs. Millipede




Is this a centipede or a millipede? Learn how to tell the difference. (Photo via Shutterstock)

Many people don't give a second thought to creepy crawly things in the dirt, but there's a whole ecosystem down there filled with innumerable living things. Among those are centipedes and millipedes, two distinctly different types of creatures that are often confused with one another. 

The names of these arthropods — they are not insects, as commonly thought — may seem to be telling, but both names are misnomers because not all centipedes have 100 legs and no millipedes have 1,000 legs. In fact, many millipedes have less than 100 legs, Mother Nature Network reports. 

Both centipedes and millipedes belong to a group of arthropods called myriapods, which in Greek translates to "countless feet," Live Science reports. And while both types of arthropods have many feet, their legs and feet are the easiest way to tell the difference between a centipede and a millipede.

While centipedes have one pair of legs on every body segment, millipedes have two pairs of legs per segment, Live Science reports. The position of their legs is probably the easiest way to visually distinguish them from one another. Centipedes have legs that point away from their bodies, while millipede legs point down at the ground. Centipede legs are also typically longer than those of a millipede. 

Beyond their appearance, you can also tell a centipede from a millipede by their behavior. If you uncover an unidentified many-legged creature under a log or pile of leaves and it scatters away, that would be a centipede, according to Live Science. If it rolls up into a ball and remains still, it's a millipede.

Even the diets of these two arthropods are different from one another. Centipedes are predators, feasting on smaller arthropods. Millipedes, on the other hand, mostly eat decaying plant matter, Live Science reports.

Both centipedes and millipedes live on every continent except Antarctica. Millipede species are far more numerous, with more than 80,000 different kinds of millipedes compared with 8,000 species of centipedes. Millipedes are most always found in moist habitats, while centipedes can be found in nearly any habitat. 

Centipedes and millipedes can both vary greatly in size. The smallest centipedes can be less than a half-inch long, while the biggest are more than 1 foot long! Millipedes can be tiny — about one-tenth of an inch long — but some species grow to be more than 10 inches long. 

You should avoid handling both centipedes and millipedes, but not for the same reason. Of the two, centipedes pose more risks to humans because they can bite. For most people, the bite causes a mild reaction like that of a bee sting, but for people allergic to insect venom the reaction can be severe, according to the University of Georgia Extension. Millipedes, on the other hand, pose no biting risk, but they can leave behind a bad-smelling secretion on your hands when handled. For some people, the secretion can cause itching, burning or skin irritation.

_______________

Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.

Eyes To the Skies For A Planetary Alignment Not Seen Since 1623

11/25/2020

On the night of the winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will appear closer in the night sky than they have since 1623.

Read More


Myth Buster: Dogs' Mouths Aren't Really Cleaner Than Humans

11/25/2020

Contrary to popular belief, dogs' mouths are just as dirty as humans'. 

Read More


Real or Fake Christmas Tree: Which One Is Better for the Environment?

11/24/2020

Think you’re doing the Earth a favor by buying an artificial Christmas tree rather than a real one? Not so fast with that rationalization.

Read More


Sign up for a Newsletter