Web Analytics

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fascinating Millipedes

Recently A Wandering Mind carried some pictures of the insects mushrooming after the onset of monsoon in Mumbai. Among them there was the scary hoard of centipedes whose one sting would make you weep for hours together. Then I recollected the mild and sober Millipedes, I had photographed while we were at our native place, that is Kerala, during May this year.
See how inquisitive Siddharth  is
On being dropped on the ground
When it was finally released and relieved
One day I found my nephews engaged in some serious exploration in the garden surrounding our ancestral home. They were playing with something, they discovered. Since they were either from Mumbai or Chennai, they were deprived of being closer to nature. While at our home, they had the opportunity of seeing things, their text books talked about. I had a notion that children brought up in cities are devoid of any inquisitiveness but I was proved wrong. Children are  children and they have it ab-initio.

Millipedes, literally means "thousand-legged," although most millipedes do not have  more than 300 legs,are found in all temperate and tropical regions of the world. They rest and hide among leaf fall, soil, or anything rotting for they survive on dead and decaying plant matter. Most species of millipedes are said to be  nocturnally active but in Kerala I found them moving around even during day time. Apart from the ones shown above, I have encountered Millipedes which are pink and dark brown in appearance. Looking them when they are on a move is a real pleasure. They are so majestic.The rhythmic movement of hundreds of legs is worth a watch.

As a means of protection, millipedes have developed unique defense mechanisms for survival. One strategy is to curl up into a spiral. This coil protects the millipede's head and soft underside. Some species of millipedes can also secrete a foul-smelling/terrible tasting fluid through glands located alongside their body, near the legs on each segment. The toxicity of this fluid varies from species to species. For example, the excretions of some species can discolor human skin or irritate the eyes, others are corrosive, and some species even produce cyanide that can repel or kill insect predators.