Modern Forms

 

 

 

Ecology


Most millipedes are scavengers or herbivores and feed on decaying organic matter in moist and dark microhabitats, which includes deep caves. A few species have become carnivorous. Millipedes play an important role in the transformation of decaying organic matter into soil ecosystems. When threatened, millipedes will roll up into a ball to protect themselves and use their stink glands to make them unpalatable to predators.


(figure used with permission from David Banks)

 

Due to their high tendency to stay in a relatively restricted area, millipedes are a useful tool in reconstructing biogeography. The animals tend to stay in one local area with little/ no migration until the lineage becomes extinct. For this reason, millipedes are also useful in evolutionary studies.