Communal Apheloria virginiensis

wastedwoodsman

Arachnosquire
Joined
May 27, 2013
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145
So I have conducted a couple trades to require a few of these beauties and I must say I really enjoy them! They are the strangest millipedes I have owned. I have several color morphs of these together including the yellow and black ones with the yellow spots along to side ridges(Apheloria virginiensis Montana?) , The black and red ones with yellow legs, and the Apheloria virginiensis corrugate flat millipedes set up in a 10 gallon tank. I will take photos of them and upload them as I go along this process. A few of these have died off randomly but most of them are fairly stable and seem happy.

Behaviors so far:
I have seen a lot of these guys all color forms hooked up. They do tend to clump together in the same area or dig into little surface burrows together. Sometimes there's 5-6 in the same hole. They also tend to lay on their backs. Has anyone else seen this behavior? I get up in the morning see one belly up and think its dead but when I pop the top their legs set up in a flurry of motion as they very quickly turn over and make a run for the nearest hidey hole. Out of the week or so that I have had these millipedes I can't say I have seen them eat anything yet. This doesn't bother me much as all my millipedes go long periods (A matter of months without even touching their food) Interestingly, I have seen the mostly black color forms with yellow spots mating with the black and red ones... Is that normal? Does this seem like it would result in the Apheloria virginiensis corrugata? I am not sure why they are breeding with different colors but I did get a few pics! I will post later this evening. I am hoping to have good success with these guys. Has anyone else had any luck with these? Or maybe have any input/advice/observations to add? I have read a few threads on these but I thought a new thread could be made with what I have been finding out so I can also keep a track record of success/failures with these guys so I know what to change or what to keep doing on the results of this new adventure. Thanks a bunch
 

wastedwoodsman

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Joined
May 27, 2013
Messages
145
Some Photos

Alright guys and gals I have the opportunity to upload a few of my photos showing these guys. They are one of my all time favorites! They are seemingly tough to keep but i am having some luck so far! Anyway i apologize as my pictures aren't the best but they are at least pictures none the less! I hope you enjoy them!

First off we have a very alive individual laying on its back.... What a strange behavior.
belly up.jpg

Here's a close up of the corrugata sp
corrugata closeup.jpg

Here's a lovely corrugata couple... I have seen many lol
corrugata  mates.jpg

Here's a group of all color forms.
Communal.jpg

I never expected this (yes the red one is paired with the yellow one!) as i was reading somewhere that said the color forms didn't pair up? I could be wrong though.... Clearly lol
Red and Yellow pair.jpg
 

theconmacieist

Arachnosquire
Old Timer
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Jan 31, 2009
Messages
79
These are beautiful. My yard is overrun with the red sided color form. I never thought to keep them because of their horrible defense mechanism.
 

wastedwoodsman

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Joined
May 27, 2013
Messages
145
These are by far one of my all time favorites! My only regret is that i don't have a few more of each color form as i have had a few die in transit and 1 that fell in my water dish and drown. I since then downsized the water dish and got rid of that problem. I am having fairly good streak of luck with them so far. Time will ultimately tell!
 

oldmanofthesea

Arachnoknight
Joined
Apr 3, 2012
Messages
185
They are awesome looking. Good luck with them. Please keep us updated. Thanx again for the post and pics. ron
 

wastedwoodsman

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May 27, 2013
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145
Woke up this morning to say, no random deaths today! Which is awesome! They are fairly active and of course I had one laying belly up again though for no reason except that maybe it felt like it!
 

Leonie

Arachnopeon
Joined
Mar 20, 2015
Messages
34
Very cool! They look amazing. I've never seen these with my own eyes unfortunately. Funny behavior btw, no idea why they would lie on their backs..
 

wastedwoodsman

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May 27, 2013
Messages
145
Yea me either. I am wondering if they are rubbing cyanide off their exoskeletons as I notice they lay on their sides a lot too. I read somewhere on one of the post on this site that they aren't immune to their own cyanide or others cyanide and it might make sense that they try to clean themselves of it? if that's the case then cleaner substrate will be called for rather quickly as the cyanide is transferred to the substrate and another unsuspecting millipede might walk by and sample the contaminated soil. Might be another cause for random deaths? Might be to soon to know yet! I will keep observing and updating this thread as often a possible!
 

theconmacieist

Arachnosquire
Old Timer
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Jan 31, 2009
Messages
79
Yea me either. I am wondering if they are rubbing cyanide off their exoskeletons as I notice they lay on their sides a lot too. I read somewhere on one of the post on this site that they aren't immune to their own cyanide or others cyanide and it might make sense that they try to clean themselves of it? if that's the case then cleaner substrate will be called for rather quickly as the cyanide is transferred to the substrate and another unsuspecting millipede might walk by and sample the contaminated soil. Might be another cause for random deaths? Might be to soon to know yet! I will keep observing and updating this thread as often a possible!
A few years ago before I knew what these could excrete I collected a few in a jar...they definitely can kill themselves and others if stressed. Good luck with this project!
 

wastedwoodsman

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May 27, 2013
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145
That's so good to know! It didn't dawn on me as much! I did a small test in 2 containers. The 1st container contained 2 millipedes in close proximity and the 2nd container also contained 2 in close proximity. In Jar one I handled one millipede and it smelled like cherries then placed it back in its container. Both millipedes died. In container 2 I left them in their normal controlled environment that I made for them, not handling either millipede and they are still doing great. They even paired up! I still think it very strange that they can kill themselves from a substance they can make and excrete in their bodies! These millipedes do way better if you only handle them a little bit and gradually get them used to you and make sure to wipe them off gently before placing them back in their container to remove the cyanide. The best way of handling them without stress is to let them crawl on you without forcing them to do so! They are fairly loveable and don't seem to excrete often!
 

zonbonzovi

Creeping beneath you
Staff member
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Oct 20, 2008
Messages
3,346
This is going to sound strange in light of where they're from but...keep them cool. I think that temperatures hitting a relatively low peak have been a major reason why captive conditions have failed in keeping polydesmids. In the three separate occasions I've tried to get reproduction I've been able to get slightly more success each time, i.e., egg production...hatching...molting. The one thing that I can think of that has changed each time was temperature. The first time, I just didn't have a clue what I was doing and I think the enclosure was sitting too close to an are prone to collecting heat when the sun was out. The second time, the substrate wasn't deep enough to allow for temp gradient and the millipedes expired in the middle of summer(I attributed this to short life span at the time). The third time I had to move and had an inkling that temps may be important as I had decent reproduction in a temp controlled environment. The new place after that didn't have any means by which I could do this and all quickly expired. What does this long story suggest? I think they need to be kept no warmer than 65-70 and that's pushing it. In the short term I think small spikes may be OK. Even the areas where I've collected polys in the south were under dense coverage from deciduous trees and much cooler than surrounding areas...enough that fallen leaves, rotting logs, etc. retained moisture after days of no rain. Of course, may be off base. I have some other ideas which I'll share laters...
 

wastedwoodsman

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Joined
May 27, 2013
Messages
145
This is going to sound strange in light of where they're from but...keep them cool. I think that temperatures hitting a relatively low peak have been a major reason why captive conditions have failed in keeping polydesmids. In the three separate occasions I've tried to get reproduction I've been able to get slightly more success each time, i.e., egg production...hatching...molting. The one thing that I can think of that has changed each time was temperature. The first time, I just didn't have a clue what I was doing and I think the enclosure was sitting too close to an are prone to collecting heat when the sun was out. The second time, the substrate wasn't deep enough to allow for temp gradient and the millipedes expired in the middle of summer(I attributed this to short life span at the time). The third time I had to move and had an inkling that temps may be important as I had decent reproduction in a temp controlled environment. The new place after that didn't have any means by which I could do this and all quickly expired. What does this long story suggest? I think they need to be kept no warmer than 65-70 and that's pushing it. In the short term I think small spikes may be OK. Even the areas where I've collected polys in the south were under dense coverage from deciduous trees and much cooler than surrounding areas...enough that fallen leaves, rotting logs, etc. retained moisture after days of no rain. Of course, may be off base. I have some other ideas which I'll share laters...
Thanks so much! Have yours ever laid on their backs or sides? It also might be an effective way for them to "cool off" as I have been keeping them at about 75-80 this whole time! I will put them in a cooler place ASAP. I will put them next to my springtail culture which usually sits at about 68-73 degrees on a day/night basis. I am hoping this helps a lot. Do you have the corrugata color forms or just the ones in your photo zonbonzovi? Also they Florence under blacklights which is too cool! I will post a photo of that later today just for fun!
 

zonbonzovi

Creeping beneath you
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Oct 20, 2008
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3,346
Strange, I've never had them lay on their backs. Again, the temps are just a guess but I don't think it will hurt them. I really want you to have success with these! I had those with the orange fringe and yellow bands. They were housed with a Xystocheir sp., Harpaphe haydeniana and others. All were active and tolerant of one one another. During the cooler months they very quite active and ate more than I thought they would. I noticed very small molting chambers attached to the log and glass early on and not long after the tiny offspring.

A couple of things...I noticed very few offspring on the surface and I've never seen any from Harpaphe in the wild. However, they were abundant in the lower levels of substrate and in the softer parts of the log. They seem to thrive in those areas that resemble feces and has been well broken down. In order to create these areas and keep the substrate from becoming firm I buried partly decomposed hardwoods and leaves liberally so that there would be gaps stratified layers like in a decomposing wood pile. The firm places to create molt chambers is crucial as is the soft areas for offspring to hide and eat, in my opinion. I was very careful not to leave standing water or large water droplets anywhere as it has been reported that offspring may not be able break surface tension and drown. The sub was 5+ inches in most places and well layered so gaps could easily be seen through the glass.

A couple curious things...I've never seen aggregations of Harpaphe in the wild...they are almost always single even if in large numbers locally. Polydesmids in the south, in my limited searches, are together in groups? The same has been said of Xystocheir in CA.
 

wastedwoodsman

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May 27, 2013
Messages
145
Strange. I love these millipedes and i want to actually keep them successfully as well! They are seemingly more active now that i placed them under my desk by the cool vents of the floor. I have also seen them eating my substrate. Still seeing them all lay on their backs a lot though. I will have to get a short video of them doing it one of these near days. What species of trees do you usually add for them zon? I am currently using oak. I don't see my millies dig... ever. I did poke "pits" into the substrate and they pile in there in large groups. I will have to do as you suggest and put layers in some substrate and then leaf layers for gaps. I current;y dont have any wooden chunks in there aside from the oak, hickory, and aspen wood chips i chopped myself and added. They must like my substrate mixture so far as i have been noticing them chowing down on the soil itself. Thyanks a bunch for the advice i greatly appreciate it! I did mix in leaves into the substrate but i only put small pieces into the substrate. I will get pictures of mines strange bahaviors. Noticed them really grouping together.
 

wastedwoodsman

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May 27, 2013
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145
Here's a picture of a few of my millipedes under my blacklight flashlight! They are pretty cool to look!
Group.jpg
 

BohemianBugGuy

Arachnopeon
Joined
Aug 5, 2022
Messages
1
Hello I just started keeping these and others together, have you had any more luck? I've had one die recently and I'm trying to figure out what happened. If being honest think it could have been cyanide contamination. I read that they was immune and never even thought of being cautious of the secretion for them. I keep mine on a self that stays around 75F. i do have moss in their enclose in the hopes some lose ground cover that also helps keep the humidity up to prevent drying out would be of some benefit. Any suggestions/ updates on your collection?
 
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