Millipedes: North American Natives

Harlequin

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I collect and culture native North American millipede species from the wild, and I've developed an appreciation for them. There are many fascinating species that often go unnoticed right in our own back yards.

I'd like to start a thread dedicated to showing and discussing native species and their care, with emphasis on those that are not readily available in the pet trade. I encourage everyone to post pictures, discuss, ask/answer questions, and help me build this thread. Thanks!
 

Harlequin

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Here are some of the species I'm currently working with. These are natives of the Arkansas highlands.

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Auturus evides, not happy because I moved the piece of apple they were eating from the underside

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Abacion tesselatum, sleeping on a pad of fungus

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Another, munching on some rotten wood

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Eurymerodesmus sp. (probably angularis or birdi)

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Apheloria virginiensis reducta, just chilling because they know nothing will mess with their heavy duty biochemical weaponry

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Pseudopolydesmus pinetorum, in a mating embrace

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Another perspective of them

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And another, after the mating
 
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Hisserdude

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Very interesting, we need more native millipedes in the hobby. How are those Apheloria doing? I know those are very sensitive.
 

Harlequin

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Very interesting, we need more native millipedes in the hobby. How are those Apheloria doing? I know those are very sensitive.
Yes, they do seem to stress worse than the other millipedes I keep. When I collected the first one, the female, I had her in a cup with not much but leaf debris and wood pieces. I got really concerned because she did nothing but try to climb out day and night. I made a new environment for her, the one in the photo, that has a moist coir substrate with leaf debris and wood pieces, and she immediately calmed down and began eating foods I offered. Since then, I've collected two males, and they all seem happy so far, though the males haven't shown much attraction toward the female yet.

One thing I've noticed is that they need to be misted every day or so because they drink directly from the droplets. In the wild, I always find them in really moist forested areas, so high moisture may be a big thing with them. I've read that they're a difficult species, so I'm watching them carefully. At this point, they're still a work in progress, so we'll see how it goes.
 

grimmjowls

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I collected a few the other day, but haven't found time to attempt to ID them. or take photos. I think I'll share them here when I find the time!
 

Hisserdude

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Yes, they do seem to stress worse than the other millipedes I keep. When I collected the first one, the female, I had her in a cup with not much but leaf debris and wood pieces. I got really concerned because she did nothing but try to climb out day and night. I made a new environment for her, the one in the photo, that has a moist coir substrate with leaf debris and wood pieces, and she immediately calmed down and began eating foods I offered. Since then, I've collected two males, and they all seem happy so far, though the males haven't shown much attraction toward the female yet.

One thing I've noticed is that they need to be misted every day or so because they drink directly from the droplets. In the wild, I always find them in really moist forested areas, so high moisture may be a big thing with them. I've read that they're a difficult species, so I'm watching them carefully. At this point, they're still a work in progress, so we'll see how it goes.
Very interesting, do keep us updated on how they do! :)
 

ErinM31

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Here is one of my Eurymerodesmus melacis millipedes, native to central and southern Texas:
I think they are doing better now that I switched them to almost exclusively decaying hardwood with some sphagnum moss (they seem to like it) and a thin layer of coir on the bottom to help me monitor moisture. They did not do well at all in a a setup fashioned after the environment I found them in, which is more like the "typical" millipede damp soil-like substrate with lots of decaying wood and leaves. On that note, I also always find them one at at time, while I think most millipedes tend to congregate. All these makes me think I have yet to see their true habitat in the wild (and those I find under wet leaves are out for a stroll or something). I will keep looking in rotting wood but in the mean time, hope those I have continue to do well in the habitat I set up for them. :)
 
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Hisserdude

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Here is one of my native Eurymerodesmus melacis millipedes:
I think they are doing better now that I switched them to almost exclusively decaying hardwood with some sphagnum moss (they seem to like it) and a thin layer of coir on the bottom to help me monitor moisture. They did not do well at all in a a setup fashioned after the environment I found them in, which is more like the "typical" millipede damp soil-like substrate with lots of decaying wood and leaves. On that note, I also always find them one at at time, while I think most millipedes tend to congregate. All these makes me think I have yet to see their true habitat in the wild (and those I find under wet leaves are out for a stroll or something). I will keep looking in rotting wood but in the mean time, hope those I have continue to do well in the habitat I set up for them. :)
Really love these guys, glad they seem to be doing better! :D
 

ErinM31

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Here are some of the species I'm currently working with. These are natives of the Arkansas highlands.
Gorgeous photos and fantastic collection!!! I hope they continue to do well for you! Thank you for sharing your husbandry techniques and please keep us posted! :)
 

Harlequin

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Here are some photos of a couple of my latest finds -

Polyxenus
species, the bristly millipedes, are very tiny (2-3 mm) and are found in various areas in North America. They're really cool. They lack the typical chemical defenses of other millipedes but are instead physically armed with formidable bristles that can detach and entangle would-be predators. (Forgive the picture quality. An iPhone can only do so much with such a small creature!)

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Narceus americanus, the American giant millipede, one of the more commonly known natives. A walk along the river here usually yields a couple dozen of them, often much larger than this one

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Harlequin

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These tiny hatchling millipedes appeared in a holding cup I use for random and unidentified millipedes. When viewed under magnification, they appear to be Pseudopolydesmus pinetorum, but I'll have to wait until they grow to be sure. (Forgive the crappy picture. They're only about 1 mm long right now)

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zonbonzovi

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You have some interesting species. I'm very jealous of your Abacion...they've been on my short list for a looonnnggg time. Looks like tesselatum but that's just a guess. It's great to see some offspring, too. All Arkansas collected?
 

ErinM31

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@zonbonzovi I've heard and seen in some older posts that you've kept Harpaphe. Do you have any specific advice on keeping those? I have two in a 16 oz deli container with substrate composed almost entirely of decaying hardwood: mostly oak from fine sawdust to some larger chunks with a thin layer of coir on the bottom to help me monitor moisture and, after reading some of your posts, some decaying leaves added on top. I mist regularly to keep things moist but not wet. The millipedes are often active roaming around the perimeter of the container; I worry that this means the setup isn't to their liking or they're missing something or just need more space. What are your thoughts? Have your Harpaphe generally been active or more sedentary?
 

Harlequin

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You have some interesting species. I'm very jealous of your Abacion...they've been on my short list for a looonnnggg time. Looks like tesselatum but that's just a guess. It's great to see some offspring, too. All Arkansas collected?
Yes, the Abacion are very cool millipedes. Very fast runners, almost like a centipede. We have both A. tesselatum and A. texense here, distinguished mostly by range. I found these on the border between ranges, but as nearly as I can tell, they are A. tesselatum. They're the first millipedes I collected, but surprisingly, they seem to be one of the more sensitive species. So far, they've shown no signs of mating or egg laying, so I apparently don't have them in a stimulating environment. They definitely do NOT like water, as most other millipedes do. I usually find them when natural conditions in the wild are on the dry side, and when I mist the ones I have in culture, they sort of go crazy trying to hide. So they're proving to be more of a project than I'd anticipated.

And yes, I've collected all of my millipedes myself from three different areas here in Arkansas, one in the Ozark Mountains, one in the Ouachita Mountains, and one in the Arkansas River bottoms.
 
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Harlequin

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@ErinM31 I've never kept Harpaphe, but my Apheloria female acted restless and wandered around the container like you described until I put her in a new setup that apparently she liked. Now she, as well as my newer males, are always calm and seem happy, occasionally burrowing in the substrate. I'm not experienced with Harpaphe, but it sounds to me like they're stressing over something.
 

Harlequin

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I've had my Auturus evides in culture for a few weeks now, and though they've been eating, burrowing, and frass-building, they haven't shown much interest in mating (except for the males riding on the females). I did some research last evening, as well as recalling the rotting log where I found them, and I realized that I may have been keeping the substrate too dry for egg laying. So I gave the box a good drench with distilled water, and this morning, I woke up to this:

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It seems I've discovered their trigger!

Here are a few more pics that I've taken and haven't yet posted:

Pleuroloma
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Eurymerodesmus
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And, I had to get out my blacklight the other day. Only the polydesmids fluoresced, and some weren't worth showing.

Eurymerodesmus
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It was actually quite impressive how brightly the Auturus evides fluoresced!
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zonbonzovi

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Erin, yes, I've made the attempt 3 different times. I had limited numbers(8?) of adults the first time 'round but did get offspring. The second time I had around 30 adults and more offspring hatched. Mating was frequent and they would surface at night. The primary thing that I noticed was that the offspring would congregate in a muddy/frassy matrix at the bottom of the tank. I tried to provide at least a few inches of soil depth and attempted to mimic a forest floor with forest mulch collected from where they were found, interspersed with decaying hardwood limbs, rotting leaves underneath the surface layer...mostly a mix of Douglas fir and big leaf maple(more on that in a bit). Eggs are laid singly and surrounded by frass on the decaying limbs, also what is used for molting. I occasionally added water to the soil but was careful not to drown the young...more of a strong mist that would slowly trickle down through the different layers of mulch. If you were to dig a hole next to a tree and examine the layers and how they've degraded over the seasons that would give a fair idea of how to set up a tank.

Just last week I was out camping and they emerged like clockwork both nights after the sun went down. During they day I could only find a couple under logs despite the large numbers at night. Where do they go? I assume they burrow. They did in captivity but no like spirobolids with their obvious tunneling. I did not have good collecting container options with me and lost a few...they will "gas" one another in crowded conditions so space is good. I would estimate no more than 5-8 specimens per gallon. Regarding the plant matter I originally thought that these were found in areas of mixed forests with Doug fir and maple but I've since found them in strictly Doug fir stands and also in logged areas that are within the first few years of recovery. I don't know if this is their primary food source but I've never found them in areas that lack Doug fir.

Here are a couple links, some specific and others more broad on the subject:

https://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/f2013/crain_alex/
https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/ppd/PDF/Occasional_Papers _11.pdf
http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/8435/Baumeister_Nancy_C_2002.pdf?sequence=1
http://www.vmnh.net/content/File/Research_and_Collections/VMNHSpecialPub17.pdf
 

zonbonzovi

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Sorry for hijacking your thread, Harlequin. Stream of consciousness, haha. Your flourescing pics remind me that I may have a chance to see Motyxia up close and personal this month. I'll update with any findings if successful...
 

Harlequin

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Sorry for hijacking your thread, Harlequin. Stream of consciousness, haha. Your flourescing pics remind me that I may have a chance to see Motyxia up close and personal this month. I'll update with any findings if successful...
Not at all! I had intended this thread to become an open discussion for everyone to contribute anything concerning native species. Glad to hear your stream of thought

And please do keep us updated on the Motyxia
 

Harlequin

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Here are some of the species I'm currently working with. These are natives of the Arkansas highlands.
Ok, so this is a bit embarrassing, but I have a correction to make. I've just learned that I've misidentified my Apheloria millipedes. They're not Apheloria virginiensis reducta. A. virginiensis is found here in Arkansas, but I now believe the ones I collected are Pleuroloma flavipes. My original checklist had only one widely distributed Xystodesmidae species listed for Arkansas, but I just learned we have more. Sigh.
 
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