Millipedes Facts

Millipedes Facts
Millipedes are large and diverse group of worm-like arthropods. There are around 12 000 species of millipedes that can be found all over the world. Millipedes prefer moist, deciduous forests, but they can be also found in evergreen forests, mountains and deserts. Certain species of millipedes are adapted to the life in floodplain areas. They can survive submerged in the water up to 11 months. Most species of millipedes are numerous in the wild. Badplaas black millipede, Ruby-legged black millipede and Zululand black millipede are endangered due to habitat loss and pollution of the air and soil.
Interesting Millipedes Facts:
Millipedes have elongated, circular body that can reach 1 to 12 inches in length.
Most millipedes are black or brown in color. Some species are brightly colored.
Millipedes are known as "thousand leggers". Despite the name, millipedes usually have only few hundred legs (750 legs is the biggest recorded number).
Millipedes have 6 body segments and 3 pairs of legs at birth. They increase number of segments and legs each time they molt. Adult millipedes have more than 20 segments and from 40 to 200 pairs of legs, depending on the species.
Millipedes have two pairs of legs on each body segment (unlike centipedes which have only one pair of legs on each body segment). First body segment lacks legs.
Millipedes are decomposers. They eat plant remains and feces.
Millipedes are nocturnal creatures (active during the night).
Millipedes don't have pinchers, fangs or stingers that can be used against predators. They produce foul smelling chemicals to repel predators and secrete substances which induce burning sensation.
Millipedes have armor-like plates called tergits on dorsal side of the body. When millipedes are in danger, they curl their body into the coil to protect lower, softer body parts.
Main predators of millipedes are assassin bugs, dung beetles, slugs, frogs, meerkats and various birds.
Mating season usually takes place during the spring. Some species of millipedes use chemical substances called "pheromones" to attract opposite sex.
Certain types of millipedes have unusual mating habits. Females are not always ready for mating and they curl their bodies to protect themselves from the males. Males then need to massage their backs (using numerous legs) and sing song to relax females and prepare them for the intercourse.
Male uses modified legs called "gonopods" to transfer packages of sperm into the female' body. Female digs burrow and builds underground nest for the eggs. Depending on the species, female can lay more than hundred eggs. Incubation period usually lasts 30 days.
Millipedes can survive up to 7 years in the wild.
Millipedes exist on the planet at least 428 million years. They are the first organisms that managed to leave the water and to start successful life on the solid ground.

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