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What Do Millipedes Eat?

Category: Arthropods.

A millipede has a body that is made up of numerous parts and the first four parts of a millipede’s body are the thoracic parts which each bear a single pair of legs. The stomach part of the millipede has two sets of legs. When a millipede wants to get rid of an enemy, they simply roll into a defensive ball, and many millipedes can do one of three different things to get rid of the enemy. The second way that a millipede gets rid of an enemy is to give out a poisonous gas or a foul odor. Some of the millipede are adapted to become powerful burrowers that will burrow into the ground to get away from enemies as well as bad weather.

Archispirostreptus gigas, a giant African millipede, feeding on a fruit. © Bill Bumgarner.

What do they eat?

There are over ten thousand different types of millipede in the world and they are detritivores, which means they live off decaying plants and animal matter found the moist microhabitats. They will moisturize the food with their secretions and they will scrape the food in with their jaw. Millipedes will get the moisture that they need from the green grass, green leaves, and the soft roots of the living plants that they eat.

Not all eat decaying matters

Narceus americanus, an adult American giant millipede, feeding on a cucumber. © Matt Reinbold.

Most millipedes are herbivorous and will feed on decomposing vegetation or organic matter that is mixed with the top soil. A few species of millipedes are considered to be omnivorous or carnivorous which means they will prey on small insects, young centipedes and earthworms . Some species of millipede have piercing mouth parts that allow them to feed on the plant juices.

Their digestive system

The digestive part of the millipede is simply a tube with two pairs of salivary glands to help digest the food that millipede is lucky enough to find. Many millipedes will moisten their food with their saliva.

Where are they found?

Millipedes prefer to live outside, since they need a lot of moisture, and enjoy living in damp areas. They will be found living in gardens and flowerbeds. They will live under mulch, dead leaves, and grass clippings.

They are a minor pest

They are considered to be minor pest in either a garden or a greenhouse, because they can cause severe damage to emergent seedlings. Signs of the damage that they can cause are the stripping of outer leaves of a young plant stem, and they can also cause irregular damage to leaves and the plant itself.


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