The Difference Between Centipedes & Millipedes


Centipedes and millipedes are both types of nuisance pests. These insects live most of their lives outside but will at times find their way inside where they can be annoying to deal with and difficult to get rid of.

What do centipedes look like?

Centipedes have a flat, long segmented body that is yellowish-gray to dark brown in color. They have long, sensitive antennae. Depending on their exact species they may have dark stripes or other dark markings on their body. Their name means “hundred leggers,” but in reality, their number of legs usually ranges anywhere between 15 and 177 pairs. Their many legs allow centipedes to move very quickly. The first pairs of limbs are called maxillipeds. These specialized limbs end in sharp claws and contain venom glands. Centipedes are carnivores and use their maxillipeds to catch and paralyze their prey.

What do millipedes look like?

The name millipede means "thousand legs," but typically millipedes only grow large enough to have between 30 and 90 legs. Millipedes move much slower than the centipedes and their segmented body is a bit more ridged. Millipedes also have a worm-like body and they are usually black or brown in color. Some species may have red or orange mottled patterns on their bodies. Millipedes are scavengers and feed mostly on decaying organic matter.

Are centipedes and millipedes dangerous?

Centipedes and millipedes both invade homes in large numbers but are not considered to be dangerous pests. However, these are pests you should avoid contact with as much as possible. Millipedes have the ability to spray a “toxic” foul-smelling fluid as a means of defense. If you get this fluid on your skin immediately wash it off to prevent a skin reaction. Additionally, centipedes have the potential to deliver painful (think bee sting) bites to people. The good news is that the venom injected at the bite site is not strong enough to cause serious health problems in people. 

Why do I have a centipede and millipede problem?

Both centipedes and millipedes live outside and are often found in areas that are next to the foundations of homes and other buildings. Both centipedes and millipedes often accidentally find their way into homes through cracks in the foundation or underneath basement doors. Both centipedes and millipedes have high moisture needs and may intentionally move inside during periods of excessively hot or dry weather.

Where will I find centipedes and millipedes?

Both centipedes and millipedes live outside in dark, quiet, moist areas. Out in nature, common nesting spots include underneath mulch, stones, landscaping ties, fallen trees, piles of leaves and grass, and under trash cans or compost bins. Millipedes are known for burrowing into the soil. Centipedes and millipedes that find their way indoors usually take up residence inside damp dark areas like basements, crawl spaces, and underneath sinks in kitchens and bathrooms.

How can I prevent centipedes and millipedes in the future?

To stop centipedes and millipedes from choosing your home and property to nest and breed on, our 'Bugsperts' offer the following prevention tips:

  • Repair cracks, crevices, and gaps found in the foundation of your home.
  • Install door sweeps on basement doors.
  • Create a barrier between your home and any mulch, soil, or grass.
  • Remove piles of leaves, grass, sticks, fallen trees or tree limbs, and other organic debris from your property.
  • Keep garbage cans, compost bins, and woodpiles up off the ground and away from the outside of your home.
  • Place dehumidifiers in basement areas and make sure that crawl spaces are properly ventilated.
  • Fix any leaky pipes and fixtures to reduce excess moisture.

How do I get rid of centipedes and millipedes?

To find, eliminate, and accurately identify the centipedes and/or millipedes that are living and nesting on your property or in your home, contact a professional pest control expert. At Bill Clark Pest Control, our highly trained 'Bugsperts' receive continuous education, and are up-to-date with the latest information and industry trends. To eliminate pantry pests, our professionals can provide thorough inspections and treatment through our residential pest control programs. For exceptional centipedes and millipede control in Southeast Texas, reach out to Bill Clark Pest Control.


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