Subphylum Myriapoda – Centipedes & Millipedes

There are 57 species of centipede in Great Britain, and 64 species of millipede. So what is the difference between a millipede and a centipede? A millipede has 2 pairs of legs per body segment where as a centipede has 1 pair. Millipedes feed on decaying plant material and are important recyclers in an ecosystem, where as centipedes are carnivorous which kill their prey with venomous claws.

Centipedes, millipedes and symphylans all come under Myriopoda which translates to ‘many-feet’. Although the impression of these invertebrates is that they possess thousands of feet, they of course do not. One species of millipede has 750 legs, but most have less than 50. Centipedes generally have  between 15 and 101 pairs of legs, although some beyond the UK can have as many as 181. The symphylans, also called garden centipedes, are similar to centipedes but are smaller and whitish, and are often found in greenhouses as well as in soil.

Class Chilopoda – Centipedes

Western Yellow Centipede Haplophilus subterraneus
Western Yellow Centipede
Haplophilus subterraneus
Variegated Centipede Lithobius variegatus
Variegated Centipede
Lithobius (Lithobius) variegatus
Cryptops sp
Schendyla nemorensis
Schendyla nemorensis
Lithobius (Sigibius) microps
Least Lithobius
Lithobius (Sigibius) microps
Brown Centipede
Lithobius (Lithobius) forficatus
Garden Lithobius Lithobius melanops
Garden Lithobius
Lithobius (Lithobius) melanops

Class Diplopoda – Millipedes

White-legged Millipede Tachypodoiulus niger
White-legged Snake Millipede
Tachypodoiulus niger
Blunt-tailed Snake Millipede Cylindroiulus punctatus
Blunt-tailed Snake Millipede
Cylindroiulus punctatus
Polydesmus sp.
Striped Millipede Ommatoiulus sabulosus
Striped Millipede
Ommatoiulus sabulosus
tail-less Cylindroiulus sp.
Pill Millipede Glomeris marginata
Pill Millipede
Glomeris marginata
Cylindroiulus caeruleocinctus
Cylindroiulus caeruleocinctus
Ophiodesmus albonanus

Class Symphyla – Symphylans

Scutigerella sp
Scutigerella agg.

Many thanks to Warren Maguire and Steve Gregory for their expert assistance in identifying and reconfirming species.

For further reference see the links and literature below:

British Myriapod and Isopod Group (BMIG)
Facebook Isopods and Myriapods of Britain and Ireland Group
NBN Atlas

The AIDGAP publication Key to the identification of British Centipedes is also a very good reference guide.