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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Two by two

Early this morning we were searching for millipedes for Eric's class.  It rained all night, so it seemed like looking under the logs in the backyard might be productive (millipedes like humidity).

I turned a medium-sized log and was surprised to see clusters of small pink millipedes (ranging from 5-20 mm long) — I'd never seen a pink millipede before!  They were quite striking against the dark, damp beneath-a-log setting.  Beautiful, pale pink, and somehow soft looking when viewed from the kneeling height of a human.

After reviewing a few references, I think it might be Gosodesmus claremonti (although I'm open to insight from those more experienced with millipedes!).

Notice that this millipede has a flat back rather than the cylindrical shape of other millipedes.  It has a narrow body (a few millimeters wide).  Each tergum (segment) has two rows of prominent tubercles, or bumps (see below).

The segments have prominent paranotal flanges, sort of like flattened wingnuts.  They probably help to protect the legs (remember that millipedes have two legs/segment, hence their Class name = Diplopoda).

Note the small head, fuzzy face, and pair of simple antennae.

Sometimes I shake my head at how unaware I am about what's around us.  This is my eighth year in this house, and who knew there were amazing pink millipedes in the backyard?!

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