By William T. Hathaway


A few students often become somewhat fearful and squeamish about those creepy, crawling creatures that inhabit the forest floor.

Occasionally on damp days colorful millipedes can be spotted above the ground moving between layers of organic matter and leaf litter. Millipedes feed on decaying plant material and do not bite people. Some species can expel an ill-smelling odor from the sides of their body. Although beneficial in the woods, a few species can do serious damage in gardens and greenhouses.

Millipedes overwinter as adults in protected places. Many millipedes have 30 or more pairs of legs with body segments bearing two pairs. Millipede species number into the hundreds.