Millipedes look like worms, but they aren’t. They have a lot of little legs, hence their name. However, the name designation is not entirely clear. Sometimes only the bipeds are referred to as millipedes, the others as centipedes. Then there are also the lycopods and the less-pedaled ones.
Millipedes belong to the phylum Arthropods, along with insects, crabs, arachnids, and the extinct trilobites. These only exist as fossils. Millipedes are found all over the world.
What they all have in common is that their body consists of a head and a torso. However, these are not separated from each other by a thin neck, as is the case with the bee, for example. It looks more like it all in one piece. The torso is made up of individual body rings called segments.
All millipedes breathe through tracheae. These are fine air channels that lead everywhere through the skin into the body. They lay eggs from which the young hatch. Millipedes like to live in damp places, such as on the forest floor or in compost. They help to form humus, which is fresh soil. They sleep during the day and are active at dusk and at night.
How are the different centipedes different?
Real millipedes have two pairs of legs on each body segment, i.e. two legs on the left and two on the right. That is why they are also called bipeds. But nobody makes it to a thousand feet. The California millipede holds the record at around 750 feet. However, it does not even grow quite four centimeters long. It feeds on plant debris.
Centipedes have only one pair of legs on each body segment. They are hunters. They can strike at lightning speed like snakes and hold onto their prey with their legs. Using their poisonous claws on their heads, they paralyze their prey and wait for it to die. Then they devour their food.
Micropods are only about an inch long. They have no body color but are pale white. They live in the top layer of soil, under cow dung, or under stones. They eat dead or live parts of plants. Micropods can suddenly multiply very quickly and become a nuisance in nurseries.
Lesser feet are tiny, only about two millimeters long. So it takes five animals together for one centimeter. They also live in the top layer of soil. What they eat has not yet been fully researched. Most likely they feed on fungal threads. These are the parts of the mushrooms that lie in the ground, kind of like roots.