Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What Do You Know About Millipedes?



This millipede and another were on our screen porch when I realized that I didn’t really know much about them.  So I took a couple of pictures and did a little Googling and here is what I came up with.

Millipedes (Diplopoda) are not insects but, like insects, spiders, and crustaceans are members of the arthropod phylum. They have two main body parts: a head with antennae and a body, which is segmented and has legs attached to each segment. As the millipede grows, it molts, and with each molt, a new segment with more legs is grown until it finally reaches maturity. 100_2246While millipede means “thousand legs,” the average has a mere 80 to 750 legs, varying by species ---and there are estimated to be 10,000 species. (I’d definitely be tripping over my own feet!) Millipedes live all around the world but in the southern hemisphere they may reach a length of 40 centimeters, which is about 15.7 inches! (That is downright Jurassic, don’t you think?)  Some of the bigger ones are sold as pets. (Really? Those are probably the same people that buy those giant hissing cockroaches from Madagascar.)Pill bugs, often collected by children, are a kind of millipede.


Millipedes are mostly nocturnal and feed on detritus. They are eaten by centipedes, spiders, insects, birds, small mammals and rodents. They lay eggs--- up to 1,000 at a time, but usually only 500.  (Doesn’t that make you tired to think about it!)

Millipedes do not have a poisonous bite, but may protect themselves by offensive odors produced by stink glands; some produce highly irritating compounds that can injure the skin or eyes of attackers; and some can roll up into a ball or spiral for protection.

So now you know what I know about millipedes.


The end!



Floridacracker said...

That was great!
I think I recall that the noxious chemical defense they use has a cyanide compound in it.

Very cleverly done!

Ava said...

Good morning! Floridacracker sent us over from his blog to see thing millicreature!

Great post! I used to carry around and play with pill bugs all the time when I was a kid. I'm sitting here smiling just thinking about them. You know, I haven't seen one for a long time. They used to be everywhere.

robin andrea said...

Great information on these creatures. I find them dead very often in my garage, and have often thought of doing a little research to see what their life cycle is all about. I'm glad FC directed us here to read this.