Centipedes can easily be distinguished from millipedes by counting the number of pairs of legs arising from most body segments: millipedes have two pairs, while centipedes bear one pair per segment, with the first pair of legs being modified into fangs. Centipedes are generally flattened and have a pair of well developed antennae on the head. Some centipedes, such as the house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata Linnaeus), have long legs and are capable of running rapidly.
The largest centipedes, Scolopendra spp. (Scolopendromorpha: Scolopendridae) may grow to be about 6 inches long. Millipede bodies are rounded or somewhat flattened. Legs are short and movement is slow, with movement of legs appearing wave-like. Most species are less than 1 ½ inch long, although one species, Narceus americanus (Beauvois) (Order Spirobolida), in west Texas grows up to 4 inches long.
Centipedes have flat, elongated and segmented bodies that contain a couple of legs for each segment. They are found in several patterns and colors but most commonly found are brown and reddish orange.
Centipedes are primitive arthropods, relatives of the insects. The name “centipede” literally means 100 legs, and indeed some kinds of centipedes have nearly 100 legs.
They are identified by their long, segmented body with each segment bearing one pair of legs. Centipedes are predators. They feed on any small crawling organisms they can catch. Scutigera is one common genus with very long legs that move in a rippling motion. Scolopendra is the giant centipede, a large (up to 8” long) and fast species with a reportedly painful bite.