What’s going on?
OK, this is getting silly (and not a little embarrassing). After our centipede interloper yesterday, today we found a millipede on the bathroom floor. I’m now getting seriously concerned about the ventilation in there as both these species love moist conditions. Not a good sign.
Anyway, this time we’ve got ourselves what looks like a black millipede Tachypodoiulus niger, otherwise known as the “white-legged snake millipede” (which sounds a whole lot more exotic, but it is in fact a very common domestic species). I’ve no idea how it got there. It may have come in on the bottom of someone’s shoe, seeing as how it was dead, but interestingly it was curled up in the classic millipede defence position. Even more interestingly, this species is commonly predated by Lithobius forficatus which could explain yesterday’s visitor. Black millipedes are found throughout the UK and they especially like chalky soil which provides the calcium they need for their segmented exoskeletons.
Millipedes (“1000 feet”) are as inaccurately named as their cousins the centipedes (“100 feet”). No known species has 1000 legs although the very rare Californian Illacme plenipes makes it to about 750 which is the world record (that’s California for you – always has to go one better!). More usually, species have anywhere between 40 and 400, spaced 2 pairs to a segment (unlike centipedes which only have 1 pair per segment). Millipedes and centipedes are fairly closely related, both being classified as “myriapods” (“10,000 feet”) which is even wider off the mark!