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Millipedes

Mulch munchers

Millipedes, which are “looked down upon”, contribute to conservation by breaking down wood and leaves and increasing soil mineralisation. They also can be a boon to farmers in search of alternatives to chemicals.

 

A Spirobolid bulldozer millipede, Eucentrobolus maindroni, from the southern Western Ghats region.
A Spirobolid bulldozer millipede, Eucentrobolus maindroni, from the southern Western Ghats region.Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Bulldozer millipede with blue-green legs from the Eastern Ghats.
Bulldozer millipede with blue-green legs from the Eastern Ghats.Photo: Geetha Iyer
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A giant pill millipede  of the order Sphaerotheriida from southern Western Ghats.
A giant pill millipede of the order Sphaerotheriida from southern Western Ghats. Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Giant pill millipede beginning to open.
Giant pill millipede beginning to open.Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Giant millipede of the family Zephroniidae from north-eastern India. Pill millipedes roll into a ball when a threat is preceived.
Giant millipede of the family Zephroniidae from north-eastern India. Pill millipedes roll into a ball when a threat is preceived.Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Plate millipede, Anoplodesmus species, from Suchindrum, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu. They are the most diverse Indian species.
Plate millipede, Anoplodesmus species, from Suchindrum, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu. They are the most diverse Indian species. Photo: Geetha Iyer
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A millipede of the order Spirostreptida from the family. Harpagophoridae.
A millipede of the order Spirostreptida from the family. Harpagophoridae. Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Millipedes belong to the class Diplopoda. The term describes them accurately as they have two (diplo) pairs of legs (poda) in each segment of their body.
Millipedes belong to the class Diplopoda. The term describes them accurately as they have two (diplo) pairs of legs (poda) in each segment of their body.Photo: Geetha Iyer
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A giant pill millipede belonging to the Arthrosphaera species rolled into a ball.
A giant pill millipede belonging to the Arthrosphaera species rolled into a ball. Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Arthrosphaera species beginning its roll to close. A locking mechanism ensures that they cannot be prised open unless you harm them. This is also a protective mechanism to reduce water loss by reducing the surface area exposed to air.
Arthrosphaera species beginning its roll to close. A locking mechanism ensures that they cannot be prised open unless you harm them. This is also a protective mechanism to reduce water loss by reducing the surface area exposed to air. Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Pink-legged millipede belonging to the Aulacobolus species from southern Western Ghats.
Pink-legged millipede belonging to the Aulacobolus species from southern Western Ghats.Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Millipedes prefer environments with constant to high moisture levels and moderate temperatures. They are therefore abundantly distributed in the tropical and subtropical regions.
Millipedes prefer environments with constant to high moisture levels and moderate temperatures. They are therefore abundantly distributed in the tropical and subtropical regions.Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Red and black giant pill millipede from southern Western Ghats.
Red and black giant pill millipede from southern Western Ghats.Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Eumillipes persephone, a female with 1,306 legs, from Australia. Image by Dr Paul Marek (Wikipedia).
Eumillipes persephone, a female with 1,306 legs, from Australia. Image by Dr Paul Marek (Wikipedia).
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Flat-backed millipede of the Paradoxosomatidae species.
Flat-backed millipede of the Paradoxosomatidae species.Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Trigoniulus corallinus from the Kanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary.
Trigoniulus corallinus from the Kanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Centipede. Centipedes belong to the order Chilopoda. Unlike millipedes, they have only one pair of legs in a segment.
Centipede. Centipedes belong to the order Chilopoda. Unlike millipedes, they have only one pair of legs in a segment. Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Centipedes are carnivorous, and their bite carries a venom that can harm humans.
Centipedes are carnivorous, and their bite carries a venom that can harm humans. Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Spirostreptids range in size from the largest millipedes to the smallest. They are adapted to live in various types of biomes—rain forests, grasslands, deserts and caves.
Spirostreptids range in size from the largest millipedes to the smallest. They are adapted to live in various types of biomes—rain forests, grasslands, deserts and caves. Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Trigoniulus corallinus, a pantropical Spirobolid millipede common across India.
Trigoniulus corallinus, a pantropical Spirobolid millipede common across India.Photo: Geetha Iyer
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A black bulldozer, Aulacobolus species, from Kanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary.
A black bulldozer, Aulacobolus species, from Kanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary.Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Litter splitters or plate millipedes from Suchindram.
Litter splitters or plate millipedes from Suchindram.Photo: Geetha Iyer
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While most millipedes are predominantly forest-floor/soil dwellers, some of them climb trees to reside in crevices to feed and escape the heat.
While most millipedes are predominantly forest-floor/soil dwellers, some of them climb trees to reside in crevices to feed and escape the heat.Photo: Geetha Iyer
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Wedge or litter splitter, Chondromorpha species, Suchindrum.
Wedge or litter splitter, Chondromorpha species, Suchindrum.Photo: Geetha Iyer
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