Sat, May 2, 2009 at 12:02 PM
Dear Identifiers of Insects,
This time I’m writing about a huge millipede that keeps attempting to cross a heavily-trafficked footpath; I’ve rescued him twice, and am wondering what type he is. Sort of looks like a picture I found online of ”black and yellow millipede” or ”Harpaphe” genus, but the legs on that were black, not yellow.
This fella is a good three inches long, and rather hefty as far as bugs go! Certainly the largest millipede I’ve ever seen.
Thanks! Hope you find the photo interesting!
Dear R. Thompson,
Your submission to our website did not use our newly formatted form that requests a location, so we have no idea where this Millipede was found. This also means that you have written to our site before. We hope you write back with your location. We believe you are correct that your Yellow Spotted Millipede is in the genus Harpaphe, probably Harpaphe haydeniana, The following remarks are according to BugGuide: “this particular millipede secretes a dark fluid that has an odor similar to the almond extract used in cooking. Apparently this is a defensive manuveur. Millipedes also curl up in tight coils when threatened. (1) Caution: Many millipedes with bright color patterns secrete a compound containing cyanide. Wash your hands after handling them and do not allow children to pick them up. ‘Millipedes are entirely non-toxic to humans and can be picked up by hand. Some secretions discolor the skin, but this wears away in a few days without lasting effect. Some large, cylindrical, tropical species squirt their defensive secretions up to a half meter (2-3 feet) and can blind chickens and dogs. Their fluids are painful if they get into the eyes, and persons working with tropical millipedes should be suitably cautious.’ ~Rowland Shelley Harpaphe is in the tribe Xystodesmini.”
Sorry about that – the location of the millipede is Chapel Hill, NC.
I didn’t pick him up with my hands, but let him crawl onto a stick.
Thanks for the info!
Excellent. An eastern species is Sigmoria trimaculata, and it has yellow legs. You can also see photos of this species posted to BugGuide and there are reports of representatives of the genus from North Carolina.
Update: April 13, 2017
Based on new research and a new submission, we now believe this is Apheloria tigana, thanks to BugGuide where it states: “‘Apheloria tigana is the dominant xystodesmid millipede in central North Carolina, particularly the “Triangle” (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill region). Individuals typically have yellow paranota (lateral segmental expansions on the dorsa), a yellow middorsal spot on the anterior margin of the collum or 1st segment, and yellow middorsal spots on the caudalmost 3-5 segments. In central NC south of the Deep/Cape Fear Rivers there is a different and undescribed species with yellow middorsal splotches on essentially every segment.’ – Roland Shelley, North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences.”