The millipedes belong to the arthropod group, which implies that they have pairs of jointed legs. They also have divided bodies and short heads; their different legs are their most obvious element. Some uncommon species may have 750 legs and most species are found in the region of legs 80 and 400. The name centipede derives from the Latin word meaning a thousand legs, although no known centipede has 1000 legs. The African centipede Goliath (Archispirostreptus gigas) is one of the largest centipedes, growing up to 11 inches in length. Millipede have two sets of legs connected to each part of its body. There are about 12,000 species of millipedes that have been identified, grouped in orders 16 and about families 140.
The centipedes are detritivores (creatures that consume the demolition of natural material and in doing so add to the disintegration and the nutrient cycle). Most centipedes eat rotting leaves and other dead vegetable substances mixed with the soil. They play a significant role in the decomposition of vegetable waste, and it is estimated that each species consumes between 1% and 11% of all leaf waste. The centipedes fragment the leaf waste in the intestine and expel them like pellets, bacteria, fungi and algae, which help the decomposition of organic matter. Some centipedes are herbivores and feed on living plants, and occasionally some species become serious crop pests. The centipedes in the order of Polyxenida consume algae found in the bark of trees, while the Platydesmida eat mushrooms. There are some species of millipedes that are omnivorous, while some are carnivores that consume earthworms, insects and snails. Some species have specialized mouth organs that pierce the plants and suck the sap of the plant.
Having a lot of short legs makes the centipedes a bit slow, their limbs and body walking in an undulating movement. Most species are excellent diggers, and they are able to efficiently guide their direction underground. They can strengthen their passages by renewing the particles around it. The millipedes have a hard exoskeleton that protects them from predators. Each time weakened, they bend into a ball to guarantee the protection of the most vulnerable lower part. Numerous species also discharge toxic fluid emissions through tiny pores at the edges of their bodies as optional protection.
Distinction between Centipede and Centipede
Most people cannot distinguish between centipedes and centipedes. The two share some similarities, for example both belong to the group of myriapods and share the features including an elongated body with segmented bodies. The two also have post-natal organs and a single pair of antennas. The millipedes have short antennae that are elbow-shaped and are used to probe the substrate. They also have a pair of versatile jaws and a single pair of maxilla that is fused into a lip. The centipedes, on the other hand, have a long antenna that looks like a wire and a small pair of jaws. They also have a pair of large poisonous claws and two pairs of jaws.