T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Millipedes

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Myriapoda
Class: Diplopoda
Subclasses: Penicillata, Chilognatha
Diversity: 16 orders, c. 12,000 species
Common name: Millipedes, Maori weri mano.

The millipedes are easily recognizable. Most of them are slow-moving, elongate animals with a cylindrical or flattened segmented body (trunk), a rounded head and a large number of short walking legs. Common species have between 36 and 400 legs.   The cuticle of most millipedes is calcified and rather hard, and the body is relatively inflexible.
Millipedes are detritivores and slow moving. Most millipedes eat decaying leaves and other dead plant matter, moisturising the food with secretions and then scraping it in with the jaws. However they can also be a minor garden pest, especially in greenhouses where they can cause severe damage to emergent seedlings. Signs of millipede damage include the stripping of the outer layers of a young plant stem and irregular damage to leaves.

  An An assortment of millipedes (class Diplopoda). Photographs not to scale.
Top row: Epanerchodus curtigonopus (Polydesmida, Polydesmidae); Brachycybe lecontii (Platydesmida, Andrognathidae).
Second row: Sagmatostreptus strongylopygus (Spirostreptida, Spirostreptidae).
Third row: Ammodesmus granum (Polydesmida, Ammodesmidae); Aponedyopus montanus (Polydesmida, Paradoxosomatidae); Glomeris sublimbata (Glomerida, Glomeridae)
Fourth row: Titanophyllum spiliarum (Julida, Julidae); Unknown species (Spirobolida)
Bottom: Unknown species (Julida, Nemasomatidae)  

To see  photos of New Zealand millepedes visit http://soilbugs.massey.ac.nz/gallery/millipedes.html