North American Millipede

Millipedes and insects are both arthropods, but have not shared a common ancestor for over 500 million years. Millipedes have a long body that is supported by numerous legs, two per segment. Most Millipedes are less than 3 centimeters in length. The giant millipedes of the tropics can grow to about 28 cm long (about 11 inches). The Red River Gorge area of Kentucky has the North American Millipede, Narceus americanus, that commonly grows to 8 to 10 cm (slightly shorter than my hand.)

The North American Millipede, like most millipedes feeds on decaying plant material and other detritus. It requires moist environment with rotting logs and other resources. I saw this beauty along a trail on a plant stem. It had been raining most of the day, so the forest was literally dripping. This millipede is about 10 cm long. As I investigated and photographed, it assumed a defensive posture with its head tucked under the coils of its body plates. The orange stripes advertise its unpalatability.

North American Millipede

North American Millipede

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Environment, Taxonomy. Bookmark the permalink.

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