Are you planning to keep a millipede as a pet? Here is how to care for a millipede, including how to house, feed, breed, and take care of its health.
For nature lovers, millipedes make great low-maintenance pets. This is more so if you are looking for simple pets that don’t need too much involvement, cleaning, bathing, feeding, or exercising like dogs or cats, millipedes are a great choice.
Taking care of a millipede is easy since they mostly feed on dead and decaying plant matter.
If you are planning to get a millipede as a pet, this article will be worth your time. I guess you’re probably excited about your potential new pet, so why not dive right into it?
Types of Millipedes for Pets
As you might be aware, it’s important to choose the right species when keeping any creature as a pet.
While there are over 12,000 species of millipedes, not all of them are equally suitable for keeping as pets.
Some species are also capable of secreting toxins that can cause irritation and make the skin burn or itch. Some of the best millipede species to keep as pets are as follows.
These brightly-colored millipedes look very beautiful, which makes them one of the most popular choices among those seeking to keep millipedes as pets.
Unlike others, their bodies have alternative stripes of bright green and black. Bumblebee millipedes are strong and hardy, which makes them easy to keep.
If you’re planning to keep millipedes in a vivarium, scarlet millipedes are a good choice. Their rusty red color contrasts very well against green environments.
Although originally native to Malaysia and Indonesia, they have now become very common in the US, especially in Florida.
Smokey Oak Millipedes
This species of millipedes is native to the southeastern part of the US. It can grow up to a length of four inches and mostly feeds on decaying matter.
Also known as the smokey ghost millipede, it’s of a dull grayish brown color with a touch of red at both ends.
If you’re fascinated by large creepy crawlies, you may go for the giant millipede. However, you should keep in mind that these millipedes can grow up to 13 inches long with a diameter similar to a golf ball!
One of their subspecies, the giant African millipede, happens to be the world’s largest millipede (about 15 inches long).
You should consider getting giant millipedes only if you have enough space for a vivarium big enough to house them.
Giant millipedes are quite docile and tolerant of being handled. However, they might curl into a tight spiral and excrete a hydrogen cyanide-based chemical when frightened.
It’s always a good idea to wash your hands after handling a giant millipede.
One of the best things about keeping millipedes as pets is that they don’t require very complicated or expensive housing.
Aquariums or other similar containers suffice for this purpose. Remember to choose a container size based on the number of millipedes you’re planning to keep inside it.
Generally speaking, the container should be at least thrice as long as all their lengths are combined.
What species you are choosing also matters when selecting the housing container since the sizes vary from one species to another.
If you’re planning to keep giant millipedes, you need a 10-to-15-gallon aquarium for just two of them.
Your millipede container should also be wide enough to provide them with adequate wiggle room.
While you need to make sure there aren’t any openings large enough for the millipedes to escape, always remember to leave tiny holes for ventilation.
Place the tank somewhere safe from loud noises and bright lights.
When decorating the interior, add objects that millipedes can use as hiding spots when scared, such as a plastic dome, small rocks, or a broken vase.
When housing millipedes of multiple species, make sure not to keep two different species in the same container, as they might fight for resources and dominance.
Don’t forget to add a substrate to the container – it’s crucial for the survival of your millipedes.
The substrate provides them with food and moisture while acting as a surface they can dig into when needed.
You can always buy suitable substrates at pet shops that offer insect-oriented supplies. You can also make your own substrate by mixing soil, leaf litter, and wood.
A wet mix of bark and fresh moss can also work. Ideally, each substrate layer must be at least 5 inches thick.
You need to replenish the calcium content in the substrate using calcium supplements.
Temperature and Humidity
When keeping millipedes as pets, it’s important to maintain the right temperature gradient and humidity level inside the container.
Remember, millipedes cannot survive in the absence of adequate moisture.
A temperature between 72°F and 78°F is ideal for most millipedes, though you can raise it as high as 85 degrees.
You can use a heating mat to fix the right temperature. The humidity levels should be between 60% and 70%, and the substrate has to be moist at all times.
You’ll have to mist the container with water to boost moisture levels at regular intervals.
Food and Water
Keeping your millipedes fed isn’t too hard since the substrate itself is a food source for them.
The decaying plant matter in the substrate should sate most of their hunger.
However, you should throw in bits of fruits and vegetables for variety. Apples, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, bananas, melons, and carrots are particularly good choices.
Remember to slide the fruits and veggies very thin, as millipedes have weak mouthparts.
They won’t always eat all the food, and there might be leftovers. Remove all the uneaten food every morning to prevent it from rotting.
Providing water for your millipedes isn’t much hassle, as they can drink directly from standing water.
Apart from misting regularly, also put a shallow water bowl in the container.
Put a small stone they can use to climb in and out so that they don’t fall into the water.
Make sure the water you provide isn’t chlorinated. Invertebrates are particularly sensitive to chlorine, and this applies to millipedes too.
Taking Care & Common Health Problems
One of the challenges of keeping invertebrates like millipedes as pets are that we don’t know much about their health problems yet.
Even highly experienced veterinarians specializing in exotic animals cannot provide thorough care for millipedes.
Hence, you should focus on taking proper care of them to avoid health problems altogether.
Feeding a millipede properly and providing it with a suitable environment is usually enough to keep it happy and healthy.
A healthy millipede would eat regularly and always look round and full.
If you notice a lack of appetite in one of your millipedes or if its shell looks too dry, it’s probably unwell.
Other signs of health problems include lethargic behavior and the growth of fungus on their shell.
Dehydration can cause millipedes to grow shriveled and become lethargic, while fungi are visible as fuzzy white patches.
You may contact a veterinarian in these cases, but bear in mind that fungal infections might be lethal and usually occur when a millipede is already in poor health.
Millipedes share a symbiotic relationship with mites living on their shells. These mites help to keep them clean. However, some mites are parasitic, and therefore you might need to remove them.
Millipedes reproduce in large numbers and multiply rather fast. However, it’s quite hard to identify their sex, which makes it difficult to pair them up for breeding.
You can check the seventh segment of their bodies for legs – males have a specialized pair of legs in this segment that they usually conceal in a pouch.
If you find the identification too hard, just get several millipedes and put them together. Some of them will most likely breed with the others.
Female millipedes build underground chambers to lay their eggs.
Since millipedes are usually docile and harmless, they’re quite safe to keep. However, avoid startling or scaring them as it might cause them to secrete toxins.
Some species of millipedes can also spit out a dye that would take some time to fade from your skin.
Always wash your hands after handling millipedes to avoid ingesting their toxins unknowingly or touching your eyes with them.
If you allow children to handle millipedes, don’t leave them unsupervised while they’re at it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I keep a millipede as a pet?
Yes, millipedes make great pets for those who love creepy crawlies. If you’re afraid of millipedes and other critters, getting one can help you get over your fears.
If you have children at home, keeping a millipede as a pet will help grow their love for nature and animals in general.
However, make sure you get the right species. Some millipedes can throw toxic venom at you, and while you can still keep them as pets, you need to be careful around them.
Do millipedes need a water dish?
Millipedes consume most of the necessary moisture from their food and their environment through their skin.
However, sometimes the moisture amount isn’t adequate, and they need to drink water separately. This is why you should put a small, shallow dish of water in the container.
What is the lifespan of a millipede?
These arthropods have quite a long lifespan – an average millipede can live up to 11 years if you take good care of them.
You can help them live a long life by keeping them healthy and well-fed. Moreover, make sure that their tank is always at the right temperature and humidity levels.
What do millipedes eat indoors?
Millipedes mostly survive on decaying plant matter, which you can replicate indoors using substrate in the container.
Besides that, you should also provide them with small slices of fruit and veggies. Make sure your millipedes are getting a balanced diet with all the necessary nutrients.
As long as you care for them properly, you can easily get them to live a healthy life and breed more baby millipedes.
As you can see, caring for a millipede is very simple. I hope reading this article has shown you the ropes of keeping a millipede as a pet and taking care of it.
Over the years, readers have shared with us emails about millipedes and how they have taken care of them as pets. Read through below to learn from their experiences.
Letter 1 – Millipedes
Unknown Bug in VA
I’ve seen these around in the past, but this year they are everywhere, and by the hundreds. I’ve attached some photos. Sorry for the size, but I wanted you to get as much detail as possible. Great site.
You have millipedes. These are distinguished from centipedes since they have two pairs of legs on each segment. They are relatively benign creatures that can get very numerous, as you well know, when it is warm and damp. They sometimes eat new seedlings, but mostly they eat decaying matter and help to break down debris.
Letter 2 – Millipedes
I went hiking in feather falls near oraville in northern California on Sunday October 30th, 2007. I came upon a log cut off with tons of pinkesh red insects in a cluster on them. It was damp and starting to get dark outside at the time I found them. Got any idea of what they might be? Thanks,
Shawn J. Ledet
This is a cluster of Millipedes. When we searched BugGuide for a species, we found images of Brachycybe lecontii with the description: “One frequently finds clusters with several sizes and age-classes under bark on decaying logs & stumps” that is credited to Dr. Rowland Shelley. The submissions to BugGuide came from Louisiana, Georgia and Tennessee, not the Pacific Northwest, so we did more research. There is reference on BugGuide that the species is covered in books on the Pacific Northwest.
Update: (01/20/2008) Millipede IDs
Here are ids. for the millipedes on the millipede page. Most are quite old; don’t people submit new ones more often than this? 10/30/07 . Cluster from Calif. They are probably Brachycybe rosea Murray (order Platydesmida: family Andrognathidae).
North Carolina State Museum of Natural Science
Letter 3 – Millipedes NOT Mating
Common VA millipedes mating
Tons of these have been crawling around my house lately. They were so small that I couldn’t tell how many legs-per-segment they had until we got this photo of a mating pair. They’re not as showy as many other bugs on the site, but they’re still pretty neat. Thanks,
Your photo has the distinction of being the only photo we have received of mating Millipedes.
Update: (01/20/2008) Millipede IDs
Here are ids. for the millipedes on the millipede page. Most are quite old; don’t people submit new ones more often than this? 6/26/06 Oxidus gracilis (Koch). They are not, however, mating as the posture is totally wrong; they would have to have ventral surfaces together to be mating.
North Carolina State Museum of Natural Science
Letter 4 – Millipede from Canada: Tropical Import
I sent an email about a week ago and have seen a few updates on your site, but nothing about my little bug. I will attach pictures again, in case you didn’t get the first email, and if you did sorry to bug you…pardon the pun. he was found crawling across my dining room floor in december (-25 degrees Celsius outside). the best i have come to identifying him is that he is a millipede, not common to Canada, (at least I don’t think so). with some help from my biology teacher we figure he may be of the order chordeumida. He’s about two inches long, black and yellow banded, and has around 28 body segments, and pinkish legs. he greatly resembles the photo sent in in October, by Andre Boutin-Maloney, who also lives in Saskatchewan. I’ve got him set up in a terrarium with lots of humidity and veggies to eat, and he’s doing well, but I’d really like to know more specifically what type of pet it is I have taken in. thanks for any help you can offer,
Sorry for the delay. One of our favorite sources for identification BugGuide, does not mention the order Chordeumida. Similar looking Millipedes are put in the order Spirobolida and BugGuide says there are about 35 species north of Mexico. We were never able to positively identify Andre’s Millipede and sadly, we are unable to give you anything more specific. Try a museum of natural history.
Update: (01/20/2008) Millipede IDs
1/11/06 . An introduced representative of the tropical family Rhinocricidae (Spirobolida), introduced to Canada where it cannot survive outdoors in winter.
North Carolina State Museum of Natural Science
Letter 5 – Probably a Millipede
Is this a centipede larva?
My 7 year old bug lover son, found 2 of these centipede-like creatures the other day. We have looked online and can’t find it anywhere. Can you help us? We live in Santa Cruz County, CA if that helps locate the species. It is the bug in the middle.
Your specimens look more like some species of millipede, but not a species we are able to identify.
Update: (01/20/2008) Millipede IDs
11/12/04 . Sta. Cruz Co., Calif. Xystocheir dissecta taibona Chamberlin (Polydesmida: Xystodesmidae)
North Carolina State Museum of Natural Science
Letter 6 – Millipedes
I have been searching the web to see if I could find out what these weird, ugly bugs are that we have seen in our house. Alex wrote to you on 6/2/02 and describe the exact things we have. These bugs were NOT on the links you had attached. We live in Raleigh, NC. The bugs are FAST! I mean you see them and then they are gone. I thought is was some form of millipede or centipede, but I haven’t been able to close enough to one to find out. They have MORE than 8 legs and the legs are at least two jointed because they hold the bug up off the ground like a spider more than a centipede or millipede. They are between 2 and 4 inches long. The legs are slender and black and I honestly haven’t seen too much of the body except that it is thin, almost like it is only there to attach the legs. Thanks for any help you can give us.
I have contacted our local Museum of Natural History, and the entomologist I spoke with is also stumped. However, he did foreward this contact person in your area who might be able to assist in your identification. The really confusing part of your description is the size of your creature. 4-5 inches is huge, not for the tropics, but for the continental U.S. at least. The only possibility I have if your description is accurate, is that somehow you have acquired an exotic import that is happy with its new environment, and that is reproducing and moving with you from house to house, perhaps when you pack. Has either you or your roommate been to the Amazon, Sub-Saharan Africa, or Tropical Asia? Something fitting your description could originate in any of those places. Please keep us informed if you ever get a proper identification, or better yet, send us a photo of the creature if possible. You might also want to write to www.cryptozoology.com because those folk specialize in strange sightings. Here is the reply I got from Brian at the Natural History Museum:
Thanks for sending the letters. There is a guy in North Carolina who specializes in Millipedes named Rowland Shelley. He’s at the North Carolina State Museum (at least as of 1998) P.O.Box 27647, Raleigh 27611. Unfortunately I don’t have a phone number or e-mail but perhaps a website for this college will list his number(s) or someone there can forward these messages to him, etc… That’s all I could come up with for now! GOOD LUCK!! Brian Harris ___________________________________
Brian P. Harris
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Letter 7 – Millipedes
Dear Mr. Marlos,
Having recently moved from an apartment on the mean sidewalks of Beverly Hills to a guest house in the rural splendor of Van Nuys, I have had plenty of opportunities to observe the local wildlife: Specifically in my new home. Just the other night, my cat (The Princess of Piss) directed my attention to my kitchen floor. Imagine my surprise when I found the object of her fascination crawling sluggishly across it: a long, black bug with multiple tiny legs. It looked like a cross between a cockroach and a caterpillar. Any idea what it could have been?
Yours in Insectia,
Just how long is long? In bug identification, size does matter. I am guessing that the long, black bug with multiple tiny legs was a millipede, which translates as “thousand feet” from Latin. Though a thousand is something of an exaggeration, they are in possession of many appendages, nevertheless, they move remarkably slowly, and sluggish is a very appropriate description. Several small species live in the Los Angeles basin, but two closely related species, Hiltonius pulchrus and Tylobolus claremontus, sometimes exceed three inches in length. A third species, Atopetholus californicus is slightly smaller. Millepedes are arthropods. Local species have shiny, cylindrical, segmented bodies that are black, dark grey or brown in color. When disturbed, millepedes will curl up like a watch spring. They often exude foul smelling fluids as a repelling defense mechanism. Some can even produce cyanide fumes. They prefer moist conditions and are prone to nocturnal wandering. They eat humus, rotting leaves and rotting wood, and are not a threat to life, limb nor property.
Dear What’s that Bug?
My house is being overrun by millipedes… they are 1 to 3 inches long and red to reddish brown in color. There are hundreds of them which I find crawling all over my counters, up and down my walls, and covering my floors. I was assuming that they were coming in through the cracks around windows and doors but I think they may be getting into my home through my A/C vents. I’ve been finding them in small rooms and closets that are nowhere near a door or window. Please help me rid my home of these and prevent further infestation!!!
Where is your house? Do you live stateside, Southern California in particular, or in some faraway exotic place?
Millipedes belong to the class Diplopoda which means double footed, referring to the two close-set pairs of legs on each apparent segment (each segment actually consists of two coalesced true segments) of these worm-like arthropods. Millipedes prefer moist conditions, and they abound in damp litter and under rocks, logs, and loose bark, however, in their nocturnal wandering, they may wander into your cool, dark home, especially if the conditions outdoors are dry and hot. They are common after rains. Though they are harmless and nonaggressive, they have the ability to exude noxious fumes and fluids as a defense mechanism. The odor has been compared to iodine, quinine and chlorine, and some species are reputed to produce cyanide fumes. I would suggest a dehumifier for your home and shutting off the air conditioner, both of which will make your home less hospitable for the unwanted guests. One final thought: Certain years see a preponderance of certain species, whose life cycle peaks and then declines. This will go down in your diary as “the year of the millipedes,” and can perhaps fuel your literary endeavors. Make the most of a bad situation.
What’s That Bug?
I live in central South Carolina. Very humid weather. My apartment is a bright dry place as opposed to the humid warm weather outside. That is the reason I was confused. Seems to me that these little guys would much prefer the weather outside to that of my home. I did notice a strange smell when I returned from my short vacation last week but It wasn’t all that horrible so I just chalked it up to the place being closed up for a few days. Hope my ‘year of the millipedes’ ends soon…
Thank you for the further clarification. The fact that you live in humid South Carolina, a temperate rain forest, would help to explain why you have vast quantities of millipedes in your immediate vicinity to begin with. Sadly, not much is known about the biology of these interesting creatures. There is a tropical species, Oxidus gracilis, which goes by the common name Greenhouse Millipede. During the warm months, enormous swarms of them may develop in beds filled with potting soil, and it is possible that your infestation could be multiplying in your potted plants. The smell you noted could also have some bearing. As the critters eat decaying organic material, namely humus, rotting leaves, wood and bark, it is possible that wood used in the construction of your building could be providing them with a food source. Encyclopaedia Britannica states that “for some unexplained reason millipedes occasionally move in large numbers, sometimes even in broad daylight. On one occasion in Alsace a train was stopped because the dead and crushed bodies of migrating diplopods made the rails slippery.” On a humorous final note, the encyclopaedia also states that “no credence should be given to the occasional reports that millipedes have been found living parasitically in the human bowel.” Keep us posted as to the final outcome of your Year of the Millipede.
What’s That Bug
Letter 8 – Millipede from Syria
April 10, 2010
this is the second group of pics , from the mountains of tartous.
this worm produced a very disgusting smelly liquid,as i tried to poke it.
native people here call it “the mother of all snakes”.what is it?
thank you bug people…i have been very demanding lately.
Hi again WAEL,
This is an easy identification, provided we don’t need to go to the species level. This is not a worm, but a Millipede in the class Diplopoda. Your letter contains the observation regarding the “smelly liquid” which is released as a defense mechanism. According to BugGuide: “many emit poisonous or foul-smelling substances” and Charles Hogue, in his book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin indicates that cyanide is a component of this substance. One of your photos also depicts a second defense mechanism, coiling into a ball. Thanks so much for providing the excellent local name of “the mother of all snakes.”
Letter 9 – Millipede from Kenya
Location: Maasai Mara, Kenya
December 21, 2010 6:28 am
I’ve got a few more for you to identify.
All from Maasai Mara in Kenya
– Picture two: Obviously a millipede of some sort. I just thought his body shape was interesting. not completely round like normal.
Hi again Zarek,
Thanks for supply visual proof to our readership that Millipedes from Kenya share many similar physical attributes with Millipedes from elsewhere in the world.
Letter 10 – Millipede from Turkey
a species of Melaphe!!
Location: Historic City of Troy, Turkey
July 22, 2011 8:30 am
I was going to ask what this guy was-I saw him in the city of Troy in Turkey this May. But, I found I didn’t need to ask thanks to ”LESVIAN MILLIPEDES”
Posted by danielj July 7th, 2004 at 12:00 am and ”TURKISH MILLIPEDE”
Posted by danielj April 18th, 2006 at 12:00 am. Your research is appreciated! Now I can tell my deviant watchers what it is =D
Signature: Thanks much!
We are happy to hear you were able to self identify your Trojan Millipede as a species in the genus Melaphe from the family Xystodesmidae, and please send our best to your deviant watchers.
Letter 11 – Millipedes
Flat Orange on Oak wood
Location: Grass Valley, CA
November 1, 2011 6:46 pm
We have these all over the oak wood outside our home. I have not been able to find out what it is. They only seem to be on the oak that is on the ground.
Signature: Brandi Minium
These are Millipedes that feed on decaying organic matter and possibly the fungus that grows on decaying wood. We believe we have identified them as Brachycybe rosea based on BugGuide.
Letter 12 – MIllipede from China
Subject: What is this
Location: 3 Gorges Dam, China
May 28, 2013 6:14 am
Please can you identify?
This is a Millipede in the class Diplopoda, and a very pretty one at that. Most Millipedes feed on decaying plant matter. We are postdating your submission to go live during our absence from the office in early June.
Letter 13 – Possibly Lappet Moth Caterpillar from South Africa and Millipede Exoskeleton
Subject: Stunning and Curious Grasshopper
Location: Marloth Park, South Africa
April 18, 2014 3:49 am
… And would it, by any chance, leave a hard yellow, white and black striped “shell” when it dies? I recently found one on the ground that looks similar to his body. But we’ve also seen a lot of furry yellow black and white striped caterpillars that I’ve been unable to identify (last pic)
I appreciate your help! Thank you!
Tomorrow I’ll go outside and see if I can find that “skin” and take a photo. It looks like it has little feet attached to it.Almost like what a millipede would have but it’s striped – yellow, black, white.
Sat, Apr 19, 2014 at 5:27 AM
I took two photos of the caterpillar “shell” thingy. It has lost a lot of color since I last saw it. It’s now become a dull grayish, and it’s falling apart. All the little rings are coming loose. I wonder if it’s not the shell of the caterpillar we’ve been seeing around here (3rd pic). Should I be posting this on your site? I’ll gladly do so.
No pressure about getting back with me. I imagine you all receive tons of emails.
The exoskeleton is unrelated to either the caterpillar or the grasshopper. This is a millipede exoskeleton.
Goodness. Thank you! I’m working on my next blog post. I will send you an email when it’s published. Hopefully it will help drive some traffic to your site, but then again, maybe you have too much traffic already!
Thank you, kindly, Mr. Marlos!
Hi again Kenda,
The caterpillar might be a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae, though we were unable to locate a matching image on ISpot. The Millipede might have fallen prey to Millipede Assassin Bugs or a Glowworm.
Oh wow. I didn’t even realize you were working on this one! Thank you. We’ve seen about 6 of these caterpillars around the house (3 coming inside), and they are moving fast. I’ve taken them all out and watched 2 climb the outside wall and disappear in the rafters. I figured they were looking for a place to hang and pupate, but they disappeared.
Thank you again, SO much for your help!
Letter 14 – Millipede query from very confused “reader”
Subject: What’s this bug?
June 30, 2014 7:42 pm
Hello, I found this millipede in my yard and I cannot seem to find out what kind if millipede it is. I have all ready tried to find out what type of millipede this is but no website has told me………so I hope you can give my the answer!?
Signature: From lia
Since the images you attached were pilfered from our website and since there is already a posting with considerable information on this Flat Backed Millipede, we are unclear what additional information you desire. We do not have the necessary skills to identify the millipede in the image beyond the very broad order Polydesmida, the Flat Backed Millipedes, but another distinct possibility is Apheloria virginiensis which we found on BugGuide and contains the identical information we have already posted on the submission where you downloaded the image: “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”
Letter 15 – Millipede, possibly Euryurus leachii
Subject: Mysterious Centipede
Location: Northwest Tennessee/ Henry County/ Springville
March 21, 2015 1:43 pm
Hey there Bugman!
I’m currently doing habitat research in pill bugs for my animal behavior class and came across this little fella during my observations. I’ve never seen a centipede with this coloration around my area. I’m too interested to wait till I get back to college to ask our entomologist. Please help!
Signature: Russ M.
This is not a Centipede, but a Millipede which has two pairs of legs on each body segment. We believe it may be Euryurus leachii based on this image we found on BugGuide. The information page on BugGuide states: “This is Euryurus leachii (Gray), a very colorful representative of the endemic North American family Euryuridae (Polydesmida). There are 2 genera in this family, Auturus & Euryurus, and the species occurring in Indiana is E. leachii. These are among the very few North American millipeds that one can deliberately try to find, because they occur almost exclusively in association with decaying hardwood logs & stumps near water sources ()creeks, seepages, etc.). They are rarely found in just leaf litter and almost never in association with pines. I’ll bet the log they found it under was an oak or another hardwood. (Dr Rowland Shelley).” There are no reported sightings from Tennessee on BugGuide, but there are sightings from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and nearby Kentucky.
Letter 16 – Millipede is Iron Worm
Subject: Unidentified Millipede
Location: South Carolina, USA
November 10, 2015 11:53 am
I have looked everywhere but I can’t seem to identify this millipede. Can you help?
We quickly identified your Millipede as a North American Millipede, Narceus americanus-annularis-complex, thanks to images posted to BugGuide. According to BugGuide, it is: “Usually dark reddish-brown with red edges on each segment. The most commonly-seen large millipede in its range.” Our favorite bit of information on BugGuide is that this Millipede is commonly called an “Iron Worm.”
Letter 17 – Possibly Greenhouse Millipede Infestation
Subject: Can you help me identify this bug?
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
June 22, 2016 5:36 am
I find so many of these around and in my house during the summer months. They’re maybe an inch and half long and dark brown with many legs. They have to antennae sticking out from the front (at least that’s what I think they are). I don’t know how they keep getting in or what I can do to keep them out.
Your image is not of the highest quality, but this appears to be a Greenhouse Millipede, Oxidus gracilis, based on this BugGuide image. According to BugGuide: “Native to Asia, introduced to North America and found throughout the lower 48 states and southern Canada.”
Letter 18 – Millipede from Bermuda
Subject: Leggy in the mid Atlantic
Geographic location of the bug: St George’s, Bermuda
Time: 04:06 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Dearest Bugman,
I was hoping you could kindly identify this creepy crawler I spotted while in vacation in Bermuda. Caterpillar? Centipede? You know more intel that I could ever hope for.
How you want your letter signed : Melanie on the Irish Chain
Dear Melanie on the Irish Chain,
This is neither a Caterpillar nor a Centipede. It is a Millipede. The word Centipede has Latin roots and means 100 legs. Similarly Millipede is Latin for 1000 legs. Though the leg count is not accurate regarding the numerical values, the name difference is due to Centipedes having a single pair of legs per body segment while the Millipedes have two pairs of legs per body segment. Millipedes do not bite, however, some species can give off a noxious gas that contains cyanide. You may read about this on Cool Green Science where it states: “Cyanide is so toxic to most living organisms that it was once thought that cyanide millipedes were running the risk of killing themselves each time released this secretion; that they must close off the openings that they use to breathe in order to survive. But scientists found that the millipedes are immune to cyanide — able to process it and convert it into harmless chemicals.”