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Millipedes and Centipedes: Find out How These Little Creatures are Beneficial.

Have you ever wondered what those odd, multi-legged, kind of creepy things are? Are they centipedes or millipedes? And most importantly, do they bite? Read on to learn more about two underrated ‘bugs’.

Curled up Millipede image

Curled up Millipede

These wiggling and crawling creatures are arthropods. Centipedes and millipedes both have many legs and body sections. The centipede has more of a flat body with a pair of legs per section while the millipede is more rounded on top (similar to an earthworm) and has two sets of legs per section. The centipede if feeling threatened can run quickly with its long legs. In contrast, the millipede has relatively short legs that do not make for fast dashing; instead, they coil up exposing their tough body sections for protection. 

Red Centipede image


You may be wondering if either of these arthropods is good for anything, other than eliciting the willies? The answer is yes! The centipede helps to get rid of other pests within and outside your home. Some of the pests are cockroaches, silver fish, bed bugs, carpet beetles and ants. The millipede requires a moist environment; therefore, they generally cannot survive in the home.  Millipedes persistent presence in a home may indicate a moisture problem as well as a food source of rotting wood. You may have found evidence of dried up millipedes on your carpet; they kind of look like skinny cheerios.  The millipede breaks down organic matter, which releases beneficial nutrients into the soil. This is a great reason to let them be.  

Millipedes do not bite. Centipedes possibly can bite, but it is unusual as their jaws are weak. In the unlikely chance that one does bite it would be similar to a mild bee sting.

 Interesting Facts:

  • centipedes have anywhere from 30 to 345 legs
  • millipedes have 750 legs
  • to help keep the millipedes and centipedes from gathering, clean the leaf litter away from around your home  
  • allow the ground to dry between watering
  • use dehumidifiers and fans in damp basements to keep it millipede free
  • Bonus interesting fact: Apparently millipedes make excellent pets (and just in time for your next birthday gift)


-Article by Flora McLeod