Polydesmida Click to enlarge image
Polydesmid millipede, Polydesmida Image: Mike Gray
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Order
    Polydesmida
    Class
    Diplopoda
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    2-12 cm

Introduction

Polydesmid millipedes make up the largest group of millipedes with 2,700 known species worldwide

Identification

Adult polydesmid millipedes have between 18 and 21 segments. Each segment contains two pairs of legs and wing-like projections, giving them a hairy, flattened appearance. They have many pores along their body that produce hydrocyanide, formic acid and other irritants used for defence. Most species release the liquid slowly, but some can discharge it as a spray.

Habitat

Polydesmid millipedes live in forests.

Distribution

Polydesmid millipedes are found throughout Australia.

Feeding and diet

Polydesmid millipedes are typically blind, living in the leaf litter and feeding on decaying vegetation. Many species are the favourite food of funnel-web spiders.