Despite the commonly believed (and commonly circulated) belief, millipedes don’t actually have a thousand legs. Of the many thousand millipede species that exist worldwide, around 1000 live in the United States and Canada alone. Keep reading to learn about five species of millipedes, from the largest in the world to the largest in the United States.

What is a millipede?

As stated before, around 1000 millipede species live in the United States alone. Before we go into species of millipedes though, let’s look at the class as a whole. You may be wondering what a millipede is if it isn’t an insect, since insects famously have only six legs and millipedes can have 100 times that amount. Millipedes are arthropods, specifically myriapods. Other arthropods include centipedes, insects, spiders and scorpions, and crustacea ns including crabs. Centipedes are also myriapods, and while similar to Millipedes, there are many differences. For one thing, centipedes have two legs per segment while millipedes have four legs per body segment. Millipedes also typically have round, cylindrical bodies, as opposed to a centipede’s flat body. And, while centipedes are predators and feed on a variety of arthropods; millipedes feed on organic matter and help break down organic matter in the soil.

Millipede Species

Giant African millipede

The giant African millipede is the largest of all millipedes—growing anywhere from four inches to around a foot in length. It usually has about 300 to 400 legs. The giant African millipede is found, as you might be able to guess, in Africa. Specifically, it makes itself at home in Africa’s rain forests. They have a rounded body, and are usually brown or black in color.

Shocking pink dragon millipede

Unlike other millipedes that have rounded or flat body segments, dragon millipedes are known for their spiky appendages. One of the most distinct looking of this group is the shocking pink dragon millipede. This millipede is not its bright color by chance—the shocking pink dragon millipede can be toxic to predators, with glands that produce the poisonous hydrogen cyanide. The shocking pink dragon millipede can only be found in northern Thai land.

North American millipede, also called American giant millipede

The North American millipede is found across the United States, with some subspecies being more likely to be found in certain areas than in others. The North American millipede is sometimes commonly referred to as the American giant millipede because of its large size, growing up to around 4 inches in length. They’re usually black in color, though sometimes the edges of their body segments may be colored. Another interesting fact? The longest living North American millipede on record lived for 11 years! < /p>

Sierra luminous millipede

The Sierra luminous millipede, a blind millipede species found in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, has a trait that makes it stand apart from other North American millipedes. It is bioluminescent. That means that it has the ability to glow naturally. While there are other bug s that exhibit this trait, the Sierra luminous millipede is the only known millipede to exhibit bioluminescence. Like some other millipede species, the Sierra luminous millipede can produce cyanide by glands in its body if it feels threatened.

Greenhouse millipede

The millipedes might only live for a few days indoors. Mostly they’ll be found in the yard where they can feed on decaying organic matter, such as leaves