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Both centipedes and millipedes are garden and even house-dwelling multiple-limbed arthropods. From a gardener's view point, there are few other similarities.

Centipedes and Millipedes


By —— Bio and Archives June 22, 2017

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Often found in damp gardens, a Victorian poetess elucidated:

The centipede was happy, quite
Until the toad in fun, said,
“Pray which leg goes before which?”
And she laid distracted in the ditch
Figuring how to run

Both centipedes and millipedes are garden and even house-dwelling multiple-limbed arthropods. From a gardener’s view point, there are few other similarities.

Centipedes tend to be a gardener’s friend. Voracious, mainly nocturnal predators, they feast on many pests that succumb to their venomous pincers. Most species to be found in temperate area gardens are but a few millimetres long and will scuttle away on being disturbed.

Millipedes, on the other hand (foot?), discovered under similar conditions, will coil themselves up like tiny watch springs. While they are principally detritovores, feasting on dead and decaying plant matter, they may also resort to emerging seedlings.

Both millipedes and centipedes derive their names from pedis or foot. Despite their name, the 12,000 or so species of millipedes do not each have a thousand feet. The record, in fact, is 750 legs spaced in pairs on each body segment.

This contrasts with centipedes with a single pair of legs to each segment but again not exactly a hundred. Rather, dependent on which of the roughly 3,000 described species they belong to, they may have anywhere from 30 to 354 legs.

All of which inspired a playground query: What goes 99-thump, 99-thump? Answer: A centipede with a wooden leg. Groan.

 



Wes Porter -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Wes Porter is a horticultural consultant and writer based in Toronto. Wes has over 40 years of experience in both temperate and tropical horticulture from three continents.

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