Millipedes belong to the subphylum Myriapoda (includes centipedes) which means “many pairs of legs”. Also their class, Diplopoda, means “double foot” which may refer to them having two pairs of legs on each body segment. Most millipedes are brown or black with cylindrical, segmented bodies. They are slow moving with two pairs of legs on each segment. Although it looks like they have a ‘thousand feet’, the number of legs ranges from 30-350 pairs. They cannot bite and when disturbed will roll up into a ball or a flat spiral and emit a foul smelling discharge to deter predators.
Other types of millipedes found in Australia include:
Lissodesmus genus of suborder Dalodesmidae (Tasmanian multipedes), Found in Australia and nearby islands and in southern Victoria. Species include: L. gippslandicus / L. martini / L. otwayensis / L. perporosus.
Spirobolida, suborder of ‘round-backed’ millipedes. Most species are occur in the tropics and many are brightly coloured. They are found along the east coast and north-west coast of Australia. Species include S. bollman.
Polydesmidea, suborder of ‘flat-backed millipedes. These have no eyes and are found in most coastal areas of Australia and Tasmania.
The black Portuguese millipede (Ommatoiulus moreletii) is an introduced species to Australia and is more common in the southern states. These are a major pest, feeding on fruit, roots and seedlings. They are generally found in significant numbers.
Adult size: 25-50mm