Thursday, February 17, 2011

Millipedes

Habits developed in our formative years often stay with us for life and as a kid I could never resist turning over logs and stones to see what lurked underneath - and now, over half a century later, I still can't. I found these two millipedes under a rotting beech log yesterday. The first is the flat-backed millipede Polydesmus complanatus, which superficially looks like a centipede but if you look closely you can convince yourself that it has the millipede's trademark two-pairs-of-legs-per-segment. Flat-backed millipedes have a reputation for being fond of strawberries, which doesn't endear them to gardeners.

The second is the aptly-named snake millipede Cylindroiulus punctatus, coiled up like a serpent.

There is a wondertful YouTube sequence of rather more spectacular species of millipede featured in David Attenborough's Life in the Undergrowth series here.

10 comments:

  1. It has taken me over 50 years to get into turning logs and stones over! Just finding out what i've missed out on all these years. More posts on what you find please Phil. There is so much to learn and in my case, so little time. Any info. appreciated.

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  2. Nice shots. I am also turning up millipedes all the time. I enjoyed the walk in your last post.

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  3. Hi John - thanks - will be doing quite a bit of this in the next few weeks as I have some project students working on these small animals. Cheers,Phil

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  4. Hi lotusleaf, I find the way that millipedes move, with the rhythmic wave that travels along their row of legs, absolutely hypnotic....

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  5. I know a little lad who will love looking for those this weekend.
    Enjoyed the walk down from Salters Gate - last few years i seen Black Grouse up there, they seem to be having a positive change in fortunes.

    Phil, can you tell me what this old Hawthorn stump is playing host to ?http://www.flickr.com/photos/16718162@N06/5456323396/

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  6. Hi Stevie, I think it's an exceptionally fine specimen of silverleaf fungus Chondrostereum purpureum, which infects trees like hawthorn and fruit trees in the rose family, notably plums.It's an extremely variable fungus - if you Google Images the Latin name you'll see what I mean!

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  7. As you by now well understand.....I'm a dumb cluck. Thanks for this I'll look for the two legs per segment.......even I can count to two.
    PS is that two to port and two to starboard?
    Regarding Stevies comment there are Black Grouse as you come off Tan Hill. The keepers are feeding them but not with a view to including them in the Red grouse shoots!!! Apparently they stop near the tree line. So are easily segregated by the beaters.

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  8. Hi Stevie, I saw a black grouse up there (on a fence post!) last year - thought it was just a one-off, but maybe not. Saw a couple between Hamsterley and Woodland last year too...

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  9. Yep Adrian, two each side per segment. I think I recall reading somewhere that black grouse have a suicidal tendency to circle back over the guns when they're flushed.........

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  10. Many thanks Phil for id & info.

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