centipede from India
Location: Tamil Nadu, india
February 12, 2011 1:49 pm
Hello dear bugman, I am back with a few more finds… if you find the time to look at them – lovely!
This looks like a centipede… about 6-8cm long, black-yellow. It was found in dry grassland in Tamil Nadu, India.
Signature: Thanks, Helen


Hi Helen,
This is not a Centipede.  It is a Millipede.  You can tell by looking closely and seeing that there are two pairs of legs per body segment while Centipedes have but one pair per body segment.  Centipedes and Millipedes are in different classes in the same Subphylum, Myriapoda.  According to BugGuide, the word Myriapoda has its origin:  “
From Greek myrias (μυριας) 10,000 (i.e., countless) plus podos foot, leg.”  Millipedes are in the class Diplopoda.

Millipede: 2 pairs of legs per body segment.

Karl provides a species identification
Hi Daniel and Helen:
This millipede looks very similar to the Yellow-spotted millipede (a.k.a. the Almond-scented Millipede or Cyanide Millipede), Harpaphe haydeniana, a native of the Pacific coast of North America that is well represented on the Bugguide site. The internet has a profusion of images suggesting that this species also occurs in India and various other Asian locations, but there is also considerable confusion regarding whether or not this species actually exists in Asia (by introduction I would assume). I did find several references in scientific papers suggesting that it does, at least in India, but I also found sites that indicated it is commonly confused with the Asian species Asiomorpha coarctata. There are other Asian species that also look similar but I suspect it is one of these two (to me H. haydeniana looks like a closer match). I think it probably has been introduced to India, but given the degree of confusion I don’t think I would fully trust any internet image identified as a H. haydeniana from Asia.

Location: India

3 Responses to Millipede from India

  1. This is without a doubt Anoplodesmus, possibly Anoplodesmus saussurii. Asiomorpha is much smaller and not quite of this color, and the paranota are different. Harpahe only occurs in the Pacific northwest of North America, and the paranota are different there as well. It is also from a different family. All online references regarding Harpahe in India are due to amateurs basically Googling “black and yellow millipede”, seeing a very similar and common species from North America, and assuming it’s the only millipede in the world that must look like that. There is far more information available on Harpahe than Anoplodesmus. This black and yellow color scheme is actually a fairly common one amongst polydesmid millipedes.


    I have spotted yellow-spotted millipede Asiomorpha coarctarta from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Does it excrete Hydrogen cyanide gas? This is very much similar to Harpaphae haydeniana-North American species, almond-scented or CYANIDE millipede.

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