Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Apheloria virginiensis

Image: Marshal Hedin
Hey, look! It's a beautiful, brightly-coloured millipede! You know what that means, right?

That's right. Cyanide! Yaaaay!

Image: Patrick Randall
A. virginiensis is a rather striking and, with a length of at least 5 cm (2 in), fairly large millipede found all around the eastern side of North America.

Like other millipedes the world over, A. virginiensis prefers dark and damp places where the musty air carries the thick scent of moss and fungus, shed leaves and rotting wood.


Video: Isis4211

And, like other millipedes the world over, A. virginiensis feasts on the very same decaying plant matter. They're like vultures for plants, except we don't see it that way because we've never gotten round to taking the plant experience seriously.

Unlike many, though not all, millipedes, and unlike many other creatures who delve into the detritus of the forest, A. virginiensis is rather lovely to look at.

Image: Brian Henderson
There are several subspecies each with slightly differing markings, but they all have a whole lot black edged with vibrant yellow. They may also have a bit of red and perhaps a yellow stripe or two running straight down the middle.

This is, of course, a warning, principally to any nearby predator who might take it in their head to eat a harmless little millipede. For, like numerous other millipedes, A. virginiensis is armed with nasty cyanide compounds to ward off unwanted attention. It's not massively powerful, though if you touch one you should definitely avoid touching your eyes.

Also don't eat one. That's the main thing. A. virginiensis has no venomous sting or bite. They're simply saying, "I don't want you to eat me and, as it happens, neither do you."

4 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

it's beautiful, but thanks for the cyanide tip. :)

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

Yup! Look but don't eat!

elfinelvin said...

Kudos to the guy that got down in the dirt to film this lovely bug. That was pretty neat to see. Thanks for sharing. :)

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

Yeah, it takes quite some effort to get a millipede's eye view on things!

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