Legs are where the similarities stop
WHILE moving some old, dead branches in my garden the other day, a centipede scurried across the soil looking for shelter. It was a dull orange colour, very fast and always looking for shade and shelter. It’s official name is common lithobius. The difference between a millipede and a centipede is all to do with the number of legs. A millipede has two pairs of legs per body segment. It is quite a slow mover and is a vegetarian. A centipede has one pair of legs per body segment. It also is very active and fast, but centipedes are voracious predators and eat many garden pests and bugs. Both centipedes and millipedes are nocturnal. You are most likely to come across them in the garden if you turn over slabs, rocks, branches or root around near the compost heap. One important aspect to remember about centipedes is that at birth a centipede has only seven pairs of legs, but after a small growing spurt and a couple of moults, it ends up with the usual 15 pairs of legs, with a longer pair of legs at the back of the body.
More information from Owen Leyshon, Romney Marsh Countryside Project, on 01797 367934 or at www.rmcp.co.uk