How Many Legs Does A Centipede Have 1

How Many Legs Does A Centipede Have?

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Last Updated on April 9, 2022 by

Centipedes are very common in the United States and many other parts of the world. They come in many sizes, and are probably one of the world’s least favorite insects.

If you’ve ever seen one of these things close up, you would likely agree! 

A question that gets stuck in many people’s minds revolves around the legs of centipedes. Exactly how many legs do these leggy things have?

We’ve all probably seen one scurrying across the earth, but they move so fast you definitely couldn’t get a good look. 

Well, if you’re curious about it, all you need to do is stick around and find out. Here, we will be going over everything you need to know about centipedes, including how many legs they have.


What Are Centipedes?

Centipedes are arthropods. This means that they have segmented bodies, hard exoskeletons, and jointed legs. Their bodies are covered by segmented exoskeletons called segments.

Centipedes are one of the most venomous animals on earth. They are not insects, but rather arthropods.

The name “centipede” comes from the Latin word for a hundred, because they have 100 pairs of legs.

Their bodies consist of two parts: the head, which has eyes, antennae, and mouth parts; and the body, which consists of many segments. 

The first segment is the cephalothorax, which contains the head and thorax. The second segment is the abdomen, which contains the rest of the body. The last segment is called the pygidium, which is the tail.

Why Do They Have So Many Legs?

Like spiders and scorpions, centipedes use their long bodies to catch prey. In order to do this, they must be able to move quickly.

Since they only have eight legs, they have to attach more than once in order to make sure they don’t fall. 

When they walk or run, they spread their legs apart as much as possible, which allows them to cover ground faster.

Some species also have poison glands located near their mouths, which they can spray at predators. These poisons cause paralysis and eventually kill their victims.


The size of a centipede varies greatly depending on the species. There are some species that are small enough to fit inside your hand, while others are large enough to reach up to three feet long.

Most species can grow between four inches and six inches in length.


Centipedes are found throughout the globe. They are usually associated with humid areas, such as forests and rainforests.


Centipedes are nocturnal creatures. That means that they spend most of their time sleeping during the day. During the night, however, they become active and search for food.

They eat mostly insects and worms, although they may also consume plants, fruits, and even small rodents. They are known for being extremely territorial.

If there is another centipede nearby, they will often try to chase it away. 

How Many Types Of Centipedes Are There?

There are hundreds of different types of centipedes. Each type has its own unique characteristics. For example, some species have poisonous bites, while others are harmless.

Overall, centipedes are very beneficial to humans because they help control pests like ants and termites. There are thought to be about 8,000 types of centipedes around the world.

Difference Between Centipedes And Millipedes

While both centipedes and millipedes are arthropods, they are very different. Centipedes are dorsoventrally flattened, while millipedes are not.

Furthermore, centipedes are very flexible and belong to the class known as Chilopoda, whereas millipedes belong to the class Diplopoda.

Millipedes are more rigid than centipedes, and have a subcylindrical shape, meaning they are more rounded. 

You will notice that centipedes and millipedes look very different, even to the untrained eye. Both types of creatures are made up of many segments, but one of the biggest differences are their legs. 

Centipedes all have one pair of legs on every segment. Millipedes, on the other hand, have two pairs of legs on every segment they have.

This means that millipedes have many more legs than most centipedes do.

Common Centipedes In The United States

How Many Legs Does A Centipede Have 1

There are some centipedes that can frequently be found throughout the United States. These centipedes can look very different, and inhabit differing climates and landscapes.

You may find that some species of centipedes stick to particular areas of the country, while others are found almost everywhere. Here is a list of common American centipedes:

The House Centipede

The house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata)is native to North America, though it is thought to originate from the Mediterranean.

It lives primarily in houses, where it feeds mainly termites, cockroaches, spiders, ants, and spiders, among other things.

The house centipede is considered an invasive pest, so if you see one, you should contact your local exterminator immediately.

These creatures have 15 pairs of legs, so in total, they have 30 legs. They are able to administer their venom through their forcipules, which are maxillipeds.

These creatures have very long legs, unlike many other types of centipedes. Their body length ranges between 1 – 1 1/2  inches.

Giant Desert Centipede 

The giant desert centipede (Scolopendra hero), is native to the deserts of California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.

It was first described in 1853 by Girard. It can be found in a number of North American states, as well as Mexico.

These creatures spend most of their time underground or under rocks, making them difficult to study.

However, scientists believe that this centipede eats earthworms, slugs, snails, and maybe even grasshoppers.

This centipede can grow up to 8 inches in captivity, making it a very large specimen. The giant desert centipede has between 21-23 pairs of legs. This adds up to between 42 and 46 legs all together.

Like all other centipedes, these creatures are venomous and can inject venom into unsuspecting prey using their forcipules. 

Final Thoughts

Centipedes can have anywhere from as few as 10 legs, to up to 300 all together. The number of legs depends on the species of centipede, as well as their size.

Overall, these creatures are not well-loved by many. From their creepy crawly look to the venom they carry, they are often something that people like to stay away from.

If you see a centipede somewhere, do not try to befriend it. You might get more than you bargained for! 

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