|Copyright: krishnagopal Kodoth (dugulk)
|Date Taken: 2005-06-07|
|More Photo Info: [view]|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2005-06-21 4:33|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Millipedes. (The shot was sharpened in PS)|
Many legs, but fairly slow-moving . . . . . .
Millipedes (Diplopoda) have elongate bodies, much like their close relatives the centipedes (Chilopoda), but differ from centipedes in having two pairs of legs on most body segments instead of just one pair. All millipedes are relatively slow-moving herbivores, feeding mainly on dead and decaying plant matter. However, they sometimes eat living plants, especially seeds and young seedlings, and often extend the wounds on roots, tubers, bulbs and corms that have been caused by other plant-feeding invertebrates like slugs and insect grubs. The garden plants most commonly attacked are pea and bean seeds and seedlings, strawberry fruits, potato tubers, carrots, cucumbers and the bulbs of lilies, daffodils and tulips.
Millipedes breed in spring and summer. The females lay 50-100 eggs in small chambers that they excavate in the surface layers of the soil, and the eggs hatch after about 2-3 weeks. Young millipedes resemble the adults but are much smaller and have fewer body segments. As they grow they moult periodically and the number of segments increases until they reach the full adult complement. Adults become inactive in the soil during the winter and may live for 2-3 years.
Many millipedes have a glandular opening on either side of each body segment, from which they can discharge a smelly, brown fluid when disturbed or attacked. This fluid contains irritant chemicals called quinones and provides a method of defence to discourage would-be predators. In pale, newly moulted specimens and in some pale coloured species, e.g., the spotted millipede (Blaniulus), these defence glands may show through the cuticle as reddish-brown spots along each side of the body.
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