Centipedes and millipedes belong to the subphylum of Myriapoda which means “many pairs of legs”. Centipedes are further classified into the class Chilopoda,which refers to their front pincer-like legs, separate from millipedes which belong to the class Diplopoda. The word centipede itself means “hundred- foot” although few species actually have this many legs. Like insects, they are arthropods having a hard exoskeleton and jointed legs.They have long bodies with many segments, each with a single pair of legs. This distinguishes them from millipedes, which have two pairs of legs per body segment. They are fast moving, especially when disturbed. The first pair of legs behind the head are modified claws which contain venom (Chilopoda classification). They can be quite aggressive. The largest species in Australia is Ethmostigmus rubripes which grows to 160mm.

Adult size: 4-160mm

Out and about

They live in the soil and under rocks and logs coming out at night to hunt for prey. The greatest concetration of species is in tropical climates but can be found in temperate regions living in dry as well as moist habitats all over the world apart from Antarctica.

Reproduction and Life cycle

Females lay their eggs in soil under rocks or in logs either singularly or in a group. In some species the female will guard and protect her eggs. Some species of centipedes do not have the total number of body segments or legs when first hatched. These increase with each moult they go through until they reach maturity.

To deter

To control

Plants to repel

Plants to attract


Why they are Beneficial
They live off decaying matter and therefore help with its decomposition and the cycling of nutrients. They are also predators of insects, snails and other invertebrates.