Black millipede

There are said to be almost 10,000 species of millipedes and some entomologists or biologists believe that there are as many as 70,000 additional species that are still unidentified. They are arthropods which means it is an invertebrate animal that has an exoskeleton, joint appendages, and a segmented body and these include spiders, scorpions, shrimp, lobsters, other insects and etc. They are the earliest known species to colonize land during the Silurian period which was millions of years ago.

Biology: Life Cycle, Physical Characteristics, Habitats, and Behavior

Millipedes look extremely similar to centipedes; however, they have 2 legs per segment of the body. Usually, they will be brownish black in color. Although their names describe a thousand legged insect, the species of millipedes with the greatest number of legs have up to 750 legs and the typical millipedes only have about 100-300 legs. The typical millipede will have a calcified exoskeleton and are long and cylinder in shape. Overall, the male and female millipedes will look identical apart from their length. Male millipedes will have longer legs than females which are primarily used to grasp the female during mating periods.


Females lay anywhere between 10 eggs to 300 eggs at one time. The eggs are deposited in moist areas and sometimes nests made of dried feces are constructed around the eggs. Once they hatch, the young millipede will have only three pairs of legs and up to four segments that are legless. As they molt, they will add more segments to their bodies and start to develop more legs. Some species of millipedes are parthogenic, which means they will produce very little or even no male millipedes (created only for the sole purpose of mating and reproduction).

Because millipedes move very slowly, they have developed some defense techniques that help them to protect themselves in hard environments. Rather than bite their predators, when attacked, millipedes will coil up like their cousins, the pill bugs. Some species of millipedes also emit poisonous liquid secretions from their pores and some of the bigger species can even squirt the secretions onto their predator. Other techniques found on some of the more exotic species include jumping, glowing in the dark and creating a mutualistic relationship with other insects like ants and termites.

Millipedes will be found in moist areas like under rocks, rotting logs, and leaf matters. They will feed off of damp, decaying matter and are beneficial in ecological cycles. They are usually restricted to these areas and when they are found in the home, they usually entered the home accidentally and will not be able to survive because of the dry environment.

Millipedes as Pests
Millipedes are typically harmless and cause little or no damage to homes. However, when they invade in large numbers, they may cause damage to shrubbery and vegetation.  Millipedes are gentle enough to be held and secretions may cause discoloration to the skin, however, the color fades in a few days without a lasting effect.  If secretions are squirted in the eyes, it may have a stinging effect and can blind the eyes of small animals like dogs and rodents, however, they do not bite and are not nearly as aggressive as some other pests.

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Date: Wednesday, 13. January 2010 13:47
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