Subject: Orange/yellow Millipede with green legs?
Geographic location of the bug: Alamo, CA
Time: 10:25 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Found this in our neighborhood creek after a rain with my 3 year old. Despite tireless google image searching I cannot find a millipede or centipede anywhere that looks like this!
How you want your letter signed: Bri “mom” Schrader
Dear Bri “mom” Schrader,
It appears that this individual has two pairs of legs per body segment, which means it is a Millipede. Centipedes have a single pair of legs per body segment. If you found it in the creek, if might be drowned and dead, which may have changed its coloration. We searched the internet for California Millipedes and we found this interesting article on Myrmecos Blog that profiles a glow in the dark Millipede species, Motyxia sequoiae, and that states: “One nocturnal genus in this family, Motyxia, known only from California, does not display conspicuous coloration. These millipedes do something even more remarkable—they produce a green bioluminescent glow at a dominant wavelength of 500 nm by way of a biological source of light in their exoskeleton. Scientists have speculated that the emitted light could be a sexual signal to attract mates, or an aposematic warning glow to announce the presence of a cyanide-based chemical defense.” There are also images on Anotheca so we are relatively confident we have identified your species. We will be featuring your submission as our Bug of the Month for March 2018.
Thank you for your response! My husband sent my picture, but he got the story a little wrong. My daughter found it under a log near the creek in our yard. It was very much alive. Threw me for a loop. Have never seen a millipede that color!
Thanks again! So cool to know what it is!