Millipedes

Two pairs of legs per body segment and short clubbed antennae

Six very distinct types (Orders) of millipede occur in Britain.  The four most likely types are described below.  Decide which of these options best fits your millipede.

 

Pill Millipede - Glomeris1) With 12 body segments, 17 or 19 pairs of legs, rolls into a ball (looks like a woodlouse)?

You have an example of a 

Pill Millipede (Glomerida)


Pill Millipedes are short animals with just 12 body segments, bearing 19 pairs of legs.  They are able to roll into a ball, and consequently often confused with the Pill Woodlice (which have just 7 pairs of legs).


There are four species in Britain - but only one is common, Pill Millipede Glomeris marginata

 

 



Flat-back Millipede - Polydesmus2) With 19 or 20 body segments, broad body with flat back, without eyes?

You have an example of a 

Flat-back Millipede (Polydesmida)

Flat-back Millipedes have projections (paranota) on the sides of the body, giving a distinctive flat-backed appearance. Adults have either 19 or 20 body segments (about 30 pairs of legs) and always lack eyes. 

They use their distinctive body shape to bulldoze through compacted leaf-litter.

About 10 species occurring outdoors in Britain.

 


  

Silk Millipede - Nanogona3) With 28 or 30 body segments, may be flay-backed or cylindrical, always with eyes?

You have an example of a

Silk Millipede (Chourdeumatida)

Silk Millipedes are distinct in having in having either 28 or 30 body segments (about 50 pairs of legs).

They are able to spin nests of silk for breeding or moulting. Adults are only found in the depths of winter when most other mini-beasts are inactive.

There are 12 species in Britain.


 

 

  Cylinder Millipede - Julus4) With 35 or more body segments, always cylindrical, often with coloured spots?

You have an example of a 

  Cylinder Millipede (Julida)

Cylinder Millipedes are the familiar long cylindrical millipedes.  They can have 50 or more body segments, bearing 100 or more pairs of legs. 

Brightly coloured spots on the sides of the body are defensive glands that secrete noxious chemicals to deter predators.

About 30 species are known in Britain.

 

 

Not like any of the above or not sure?

Try contacting Buglife or another specialist organisation for help with identification.



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