Millipede Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

If you see a creature with hundreds of legs crawling on your wall, don't be afraid! It might be a millipede. Millipedes might look scary, but they won't bite or sting you. Learn about millipedes, what they eat and where they live.

How Many Legs Do Millipedes Have?

Imagine what life would be like if you had 100 legs. You would never find a pair of pants that fit you, and your parents would go broke buying you shoes! Millipedes are bug-like animals with a lot of legs.

A Millipede
millipede

The word millipede comes from the Latin language and means '1,000 feet,' but most millipedes don't have that many feet. Most have about 40 to 400 legs. When they walk, they look like they are walking in waves because all their legs move together in a smooth motion.

What Do Millipedes Look Like?

Many millipedes are black or brown, but some are more colorful. They look like bugs, but they are actually invertebrates, a type of animal that lacks a backbone. Their most noticeable feature is their many legs, and when you look close, you notice that their bodies are divided into segments. Most of these segments have two sets of legs. These double-legged segments make them different than their cousins, the centipedes, which only have one set of legs per segment.

Millipedes have narrow bodies that vary in length from 1-5 inches long. Their bodies aren't soft and squishy like worms. Instead, they have a hard outer shell called an exoskeleton.

How Millipedes Live and Grow

No matter where you live in the world, there are likely millipedes nearby. If you go on a millipede hunt, the best place to look is under a pile of decaying leaves, logs or rocks, because millipedes like dark, moist places. In your home, you might find them hiding in your dark, damp basement.

A Group of Millipedes
millipede group

But in spring, millipedes head outdoors to lay their eggs in the ground. This is how they reproduce. When the baby millipedes hatch, they only have three pairs of legs. As they grow, they molt, which means they shed their exoskeletons. Each time they molt, they grow more body segments and more legs. The millipede eats the exoskeleton after molting, which might sound gross but provides essential nutrients. Millipedes live for 7-10 years.

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