Centipede vs. Milllipede | Pest Control Tucson

Centipedes vs. Millipedes

Centipedes vs. Millipedes – The Duel in the Desert

Here are some similarities and differences between the arthropods:

Centipedes – arthropods with elongated bodies and one pair of legs per segment. They range in size from less than an inch to several inches. The giant desert centipede is usually 6 to 8 inches, while the common desert centipede is 4 to 5 inches. The larger giant desert centipede is orange with a black head and tail. This warning coloration advertises the centipede as dangerous. The smaller, brown and tan, common desert centipede is less so. While painful, neither bite is especially dangerous to humans.

Millipedes – arthropods with long, cylindrical bodies and 2 pairs of legs on each segment. New segments and pairs of legs are added each time the millipede sheds. Since it continues to grow and shed throughout its lifetime. The common millipede in southern Arizona is a dark reddish brown, but millipedes in other areas may be tan to golden brown. Most desert millipedes are 4 to 5 inches.

C– Centipedes are found throughout the world, in temperate and, more abundantly, in tropical areas. The Giant and common desert species are found throughout the southern United States and into Mexico.

M-Millipedes have Millipedes are found world-wide except in the polar regions, but are more abundant in tropical climates.


C– Centipedes use a paired pincer-like appendages to inject venom into their prey. Yes, the bite is actually a pinch. Centipedes are fast-moving predators that feed on any small creatures they can catch mostly insects, but occasionally other arthropods, lizards, and even small rodents. Centipedes in the desert are strictly nocturnal and spend their days underground or concealed from the sun. They lack the waxy layer in their cuticle that other arthropods have, and are therefore more prone to desiccation (drying out) than are other terrestrial arthropods.

M- Millipedes are detritivores, foraging for decaying organic material (in the desert, generally in sandy washes). They are nocturnal and prefer humid environments, often appearing on roads after soaking summer thunderstorms. They are good burrowers and spend most of their time underground. If disturbed, the millipede rolls into a coil. If further threatened, it exudes foul-tasting chemicals from openings along the sides of its body. These noxious substances are the millipede’s only defense, since it doesn’t bite.


C– Centipede mothers care for their eggs, coiling around them and grooming them. This grooming is thought to protect against mold and bacteria. Once the young hatch, the mother tends them as she did the eggs, until they disperse a few days later.

M– Millipedes are egg layers that do not care for their eggs or young. The eggs are laid underground or in some other concealed area. Millipedes can live 10 years or more.

So there you have it. You now know the centipede, the millipede and their differences. This will help you identify and take proper action if there is an encounter.

As always, Essential Pest Control is here if you need us.

Some info sourced from www.desertmuseum.org/books/

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