White-legged Snake Millipede

On a hot sunny day out with the family, I came across this lovely little myriapod, the White-legged Snake Millipede (Tachypodoiulus niger). In fact Bristol seems to be quite a good area for this species, as I found many of them in and around the city. Almost identical to Cylindroiulus londinensis, the white-legged snake millipede is one of only a few pure black UK millipedes.

 

HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION

Mainly encountered in damp areas, such as leaf litter, moss-covered areas and chalky or limestone soils, the white-legged snake millipede can be found in woodlands, gardens, and clearings. It is common throughout the UK and Europe.

 

Adult white-legged snake millipede

DESCRIPTION

The body of this species is extremely long and narrow, and is comprised of 40 - 55 body segments. The legs are very numerous (around 100 pairs) and, as its name suggests, are white in colour. The head has a small pair of antennae, and the tail segment (telson) is slightly pointed, projecting past the last body segment. In Cylindroiulus londinensis the telson does not extend past the last segment. The white-legged snake millipede (also known as the Black Millipede) has a length of 18 - 35mm. The juveniles are brown in colour with longitudinal stripes (run the length of the body) and can be confused with the Striped Millipede (Ommatoiulus sabulosus). Paler adults may be confused with Julus scandinavius and Ophyliulus pilosus.

 

DIET, BEHAVIOUR AND REPRODUCTION

The main diet of the white-legged snake millipede includes algae, detritus, and sometimes fruit. If threatened one defense mechanism is to coil into a spiral, with its head protectively covered at the centre. Females have been known to live for up to 9 years.

 

Coiled defensive mechanism

OTHER NOTABLE FACTS

The white-legged snake millipede has many predators including the Banded Centipede (Lithobius variegatus) and the Brown Centipede (Lithobius forficatus)

 

STATUS

The IUCN lists the white-legged snake millipede as Least Concern.