Centipedes are not insects but belong with the insects in the phylum arthropoda. All arthropods have bodies made of many parts or segments. They also have an exoskeleton, which is a hard covering on the outside of their bodies that functions like a skeleton. Arthropod means jointed legs or appendages. Appendages of arthropods may be modified for feeling, feeding, walking, and sometimes swimming.
Centipede means “hundred feet”, but centipedes actually have between 15 to over one hundred pairs of legs. Centipedes have one pair of legs on each segment. When a centipede moves backwards, its last pair of legs is used just like feelers.
The legs of the first body segment are actually claws. These claws contain toxins, or poisons, and are used to attack and capture prey. They feed on prey such as insects. Although all centipedes are terrestrial, meaning they live on land, they require moist environments. Centipedes alternate the movement of the legs on opposite sides of the body like insects do. Centipedes are often confused with millipedes because they look similar. Centipedes have poisonous bites. Millipedes do not.