The battle between the multi segmented and multi legs is always fought by the centipedes and millipedes. There is always debate surrounding the two creatures and their abilities and of course, who is the king of the multi legs battle. When looking at this battle you must realize you are pitting two different types of anthropods against each other. The centipede is a chilopoda while the millipede is a diplopoda.
The centipede is a predatory anthropod which has one pair of legs for each of its body’s segments. Centipedes are harmless to human beings to a degree because they don’t carry any diseases and neither do they form nests or webs that are a nuisance to clean up every so often. On the other hand centipedes are poisonous and their venom can cause an allergic reaction which in some people can lead to an anaphylactic shock.
Having said that the centipede is not going to attack you in your sleep or anything nefarious like that. They will only bite when trapped against your skin and as a way out of the situation. Most people believe that because a centipede has the prefix centi- before the pede it must have 100 legs but that it’s not true. A typical centipede can have anything between 30 and 354 legs. But here is an even more interesting fact: centipedes don’t have an even number of legs.
Centipedes can grow up to 12 inches and they all have antennae. They have large jaws with claws at the front of their head and they are also carnivorous.
Millipedes have two pairs of legs for everybody segment and two segments are typically fused together for the two pairs of legs. Remember the centipede has one pair for each segment. Because millipedes are not carnivorous and they won’t even bite you when they are crushed against your skin. However, don’t pick them up because they emit a stinky substance when attacked which can cause an allergic reaction.
The centipede is going to sting in defense but the millipede will only curl up into a tight ball. The prefix milli- in front of the pedes gives people the impression that millipede has thousands of legs but that’s not the case. Even the most leggy (pun intended) millipede that was ever examined has only had 750 legs. The millipede can grow up to 15 inches in length and this is typically the African giant centipede. Some of the species of millipede will omit a scent like almonds which is meant to attract its attacker. Millipedes love a cool moist place which is why you will find some in the house.
The centipede and millipede may look similar from afar but upon closer inspection they are very different. Keep these differences in mind the next time you encounter either one.