Let"s begin with the basics: Millipedes space not worms, nor space they insects. Insects have actually six legs, and also obviously millipedes have numerous more. Exactly how many more?

If girlfriend think the prize is 994, you"d be wrong, my friend.

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It transforms out scientists did not pick the Latin prefix in your name, "milli-," an interpretation 1,000, as a way to convey the precise variety of legs this organisms have. Their colloquial nickname "thousand leggers" is not specific either.

"I guess: v the world who were seeing these things and coming increase with typical names said, "Man that"s a most legs,"" states Derek Hennen, a Ph.D. Candidate in entomology at Virginia technology who studies millipedes. "It"s a bit of confusing, and also it"s the very same with centipedes. It"s just gaining at the reality that castle are an extremely leggy."

Millipedes loss within a phylum of organisms referred to as arthropods, a classification that has invertebrates as diverse as spiders, scorpions and also butterflies. Every arthropods have in typical a difficult exoskeleton, segmented bodies and also jointed legs. What distinguish millipedes is the for each segment of their body, they have actually two pairs of legs, instead of one pair as you would see with, say, centipedes. This gave means to the an ext accurate name offered by scientists: diplopoda, definition "double foot."

Having so countless legs is part of what provides millipedes therefore adaptive. Fossil evidence suggests that millipedes were among the first-ever terrestrial ptcouncil.net, which method they have actually been around for around 400 million years.

Back in the coniferous period, around 300 million years ago, a millipede varieties known as Arthropleura prospered to an substantial 6.6 feet (2 meters) long and also 1.6 feet (0.5 meter) wide. Today, millipedes variety in size from 0.1 inch (3 millimeters) to about 11 inches (0.3 the a meter). For this reason far, scientists have actually discovered around 12,000 types on every continent except Antarctica, but estimate there might be as numerous as 80,000 species.

"Each state has actually some millipedes that take place only there, and also nowhere else," says Hennen that loves them so much he operation a Twitter account (
DearMillipede) top top all things millipede.

Why Millipedes have actually So many Legs

Millipedes feast on sheet litter that, although not rich in nutrients, is plentiful about the world. This method millipedes spend most of your time in soil, under leaves and rocks. And what renders them so efficient at getting approximately in this dense habitat? Their countless mighty legs, of course.

"The collum acts favor a bulldozer, and also having so many legs gives it strength to push and burrow into the dirt," Hennen says.

When millipedes hatch, lock only have actually a few pairs the legs. Then, just like many various other creatures such as crabs and also spiders, they grow through a process called molting. This process involves shedding your exoskeleton and growing a brand-new one. Each time they execute this, millipedes additionally grow a brand-new segment and therefore two new pairs the legs. Some millipedes stop molting once they with adulthood, and also others molt their totality lives – i beg your pardon on mean is around two years.

So, how countless legs carry out millipedes have? It counts on the group, and Hennen says it ranges in between 24 and 750, in ~ most. In fact, most millipede varieties have under 100 legs.


Differences in between Millipedes and Centipedes

Millipedes have actually some protective mechanisms, but they don"t bite or sting. (They have very poor eyesight — some species have no eyes at all — and mostly simply use antennae to discover their way.) A millipede"s finest move when it feels intimidated is to dry in a ball, and also secrete chemicals that ward off predators. The chemistry they secrete vary, yet are exit in such tiny amounts that lock are normally not hazardous come humans. Part research explains how in specific tropical regions, monkeys actually look for out millipedes to use the chemicals they secrete as mosquito repellent.

Centipedes, by contrast, deserve to bite using little fangs the secrete venom. Also then, when a centipede bite can be painful, it generally won"t cause other harmful effects.

Leg wise, centipedes" legs tend to spread out out, if millipedes" legs point downward. Centipedes only have actually one pair of legs every segment, if millipedes have two pairs. If you"re no keen on gaining close enough to check, Hennen states observe the creature"s behavior. If it runs away quickly, it"s likely a centipede. If it just curls up, it"s most likely a millipede.

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Now That"s Illuminating

Scientists have developed new imaging approaches that usage UV irradiate to help them differentiate in between millipede species. This approach works due to the fact that millipede exoskeletons and reproductive organs bright under UV light, as is the case with many other arthropods. Some types of millipedes in California, however, space bioluminescent, which method they light in the dark.