Millipedes

OVERVIEW

Millipedes are arthropods. While they may resemble thousand-legged worms, millipedes are, in fact, not worms but arthropods, meaning they are invertebrates with an exoskeleton, a segmented body and jointed appendages.1 Millipedes are some of the oldest creatures to walk on land. Fossilized evidence show that a millipede-like creature was one of the first and largest invertebrates to walk on land at six feet long and one and a half feet wide.2 One particular fossil has been traced back 420 million years and was named Pnueumodesmus newmani for the person who discovered it.
Millipedes are nature’s little recyclers. They are detritivores, meaning they feed on dead plants and animals. The millipedes’ snacking recycles nutrients back into the soil at a much faster rate than plants and animals decomposing naturally. Ranging in size from one-quarter to even 15 inches long, millipedes play a large role in breaking down nature’s waste.

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Biology & Behavior

Millipedes are a common anthropod found in Utah yards and gardens. Millipedes are typically dark brown and wormlike. On close inspection they have numerous small legs. Millipedes feed on decaying plants materials and thrive in moist areas such and lawns. ​Occasionally they will move into homes, sometimes in very large numbers. The arid climate of Utah almost always kills the millipedes within a day or two. After dying, the hardened, curled body of the millipede may persist for a long period.

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