Centipede vs. Millipede: Exploring the Size and Leg Differences

When it comes to distinguishing between centipedes and millipedes, one of the key factors to consider is their size and leg differences. These arthropods may share some similarities, but they exhibit distinct characteristics that set them apart. In this article, we will delve into the size variations and leg disparities between centipedes and millipedes.

Size Differences

Centipedes and millipedes vary significantly in size, with each group encompassing species of different dimensions. Let’s explore their size differences below:

  • Centipedes: Centipedes can range in size from a few millimeters to around 8 inches long. Some species of centipedes, known as giants, can even reach an impressive length of up to 12 inches.
  • Millipedes: On the other hand, millipedes exhibit a wide size range. While some species can be as tiny as one-tenth of an inch long, certain millipede species can grow to be more than 10 inches long.

These size variations highlight the diversity within the centipede and millipede populations, showcasing their ability to adapt to different habitats and environments.

Leg Differences

The number and structure of legs are another distinguishing feature between centipedes and millipedes. Let’s examine the leg differences in more detail:

  • Centipedes: Centipedes have a relatively lower number of legs compared to millipedes. The leg count for centipedes ranges from 15 to 177 legs per body segment, varying depending on the species.
  • Millipedes: In contrast, millipedes possess a significantly higher number of legs. Each body segment of a millipede typically bears multiple pairs of legs. Common species of millipedes exhibit leg counts ranging from 34 to 400 legs.

This disparity in leg numbers contributes to the distinct appearance and locomotion capabilities of centipedes and millipedes.


Apart from differences in size and leg count, centipedes and millipedes also exhibit variations in their overall appearance. These distinctions are primarily attributed to the differences in leg structure. Let’s explore their appearances below:

  • Centipedes: Centipedes possess longer and slender legs that are well-adapted for quick movements and capturing prey. These agile appendages enable centipedes to navigate their surroundings efficiently and swiftly.
  • Millipedes: In contrast, millipedes have shorter and stronger legs. These legs facilitate their ability to burrow and crawl through various substrates. Millipedes’ leg structure allows them to navigate through soil, leaf litter, and other environments with relative ease.

These distinct leg structures enable centipedes and millipedes to thrive in their respective habitats and fulfill their ecological roles.

In conclusion, centipedes and millipedes differ significantly in terms of size and leg characteristics. Centipedes display a wide range of sizes, with some species growing up to 12 inches long, while millipedes exhibit a diverse size spectrum, ranging from tiny to over 10 inches in length. Centipedes have fewer legs compared to millipedes, with their leg counts varying from 15 to 177 legs per body segment. Conversely, millipedes possess a larger number of legs, typically ranging from 34 to 400 legs. Additionally, centipedes have longer and slender legs, whereas millipedes have shorter and stronger legs. These distinctions in size and leg structure contribute to the unique appearances and locomotion abilities of centipedes and millipedes.


  1. “What’s the Difference?: Centipede vs. Millipede” – Forest Preserve District of Will County – Reconnect With Nature. (https://www.reconnectwithnature.org/news-events/the-buzz/what-s-the-difference-centipede-vs-millipede/)
  2. “Millipedes vs. Centipedes” – WebMD. (https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/millipedes-vs-centipedes)
  3. “Millipede vs. Centipede” – Miche Pest Control. (https://www.michepestcontrol.com/blog/post/millipede-vs-centipede)


What is the typical size range of centipedes and millipedes?

Centipedes can vary in size from a few millimeters to around 8 inches long, while millipedes can range from tiny, about one-tenth of an inch long, to over 10 inches in length.

How many legs do centipedes and millipedes have?

Centipedes have fewer legs compared to millipedes. Centipede leg counts range from 15 to 177 legs per body segment, depending on the species. Millipedes, on the other hand, have many more legs, with common species having between 34 and 400 legs.

Are centipedes longer than millipedes?

Centipedes and millipedes can vary in length, but it’s important to note that size ranges exist within each group. Some centipede species can grow up to 8 inches long, while certain millipede species can exceed 10 inches in length.

How do the legs of centipedes and millipedes differ?

Centipedes have longer and slender legs, which are adapted for quick movements and capturing prey. In contrast, millipedes have shorter and stronger legs that allow them to burrow and crawl more easily.

Do centipedes and millipedes have any similarities in appearance?

While centipedes and millipedes share some similarities in terms of their elongated bodies and segmented structures, their leg differences and other physical characteristics set them apart.

Are centipedes and millipedes harmful to humans?

While most centipedes and millipedes are harmless to humans, some species of centipedes can deliver painful bites. However, millipedes do not pose a direct threat to humans and are generally considered nuisance pests.

Where can centipedes and millipedes be found?

Centipedes and millipedes inhabit a wide range of environments, including forests, gardens, and damp areas such as basements or crawl spaces. They prefer dark and moist habitats, as these provide suitable conditions for their survival.

How can I get rid of centipedes and millipedes from my home?

To control centipedes and millipedes, it’s essential to eliminate their preferred habitats and entry points. This includes reducing moisture levels, sealing cracks and crevices, and removing debris from around the foundation. In severe infestations, professional pest control services may be necessary.