Fun American Giant Millipede Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun American Giant Millipede Facts For Kids

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The American Giant Millipede (Narceus americanus), also known as an iron worm, inhabits a humid terrestrial habitat among agricultural lands and forests of the seaboard of Eastern North America. This is one of the larger species of millipedes, and they live among soil litter, usually under rocks, dead trees, rotting animal corpses, and decaying leaf piles.

These millipedes have an elongated, cylindrical chitin-coated body which is divided into various segments lined with at least 50 pairs of legs. They are black with maroon undertones and the edges of their body may be colored purple, pink, or even yellow. These millipedes breed every year, usually during the onset of spring to early summer, and the female lays only one egg. The parent does not take care of the young.

Unlike most millipede species, the American Giant Millipede (Narceus americanus) does not produce hydrogen cyanide. Instead, when threatened, they curl up into a spiral or release a liquid contain benzoquinones, a chemical known to cause skin burns. In addition, these millipedes have not been evaluated by the IUCN and hence do not have definite conservation status.

 If you enjoy reading about insects, check out the Millipede and Water Beetle fact pages.

Fun American Giant Millipede Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Does not prey

What do they eat?

Decaying leaves, roots, wood

Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

0.17 oz (2.5 g)

How long are they?

4 in (10 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Long worm-like body with segments around 50 pairs of legs with deep maroon-black shade

Skin Type


What were their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Not Evaluated

Where you'll find them?

Rocks, Among Leaf Litter Under Dead Trees, Corpses, Boards In Terrestrial Forest Or Agricultural Habitat


The United States And Canada









American Giant Millipede Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an American Giant Millipede?

The American Giant Millipede is a species of large North American millipedes with a segmented body.

What class of animal does the American Giant Millipede belong to?

These North American millipedes belong to the class of Diploda, under the family of Spirobolidae and genus Narceus.

How many American Giant Millipedes are there in the world?

The exact number of these millipedes has not been recorded. However, it is known that this species has an abundant range because they are common among soil-litter in eastern North America.

Where does the American Giant Millipede live?

This American Giant Millipede range is found across eastern North America. This species is spotted in the United States and Canada.

What is an American Giant Millipede habitat?

These millipedes live in humid terrestrial forests or agricultural regions, usually under leaf-litter piles, dead trees, rocks, and animal corpses like most worms. They can also be spotted among urban and suburban settlements.

Who does the American Giant Millipede live with?

Although there is not much research about their lifestyle behavior, like most millipedes, these North American species are known to be solitary as well.

How long does an American Giant Millipede live?

It is known that the American Giant Millipede lifespan can range over several years and the longest record is of around 11 years. The typical lifespan in the wild and captivity may be around 1-11 years, depending on the circumstances.

How do they reproduce?

This North American species breed seasonally, usually active during the onset of spring through to early summer. The breeding American Giant Millipede males secrete pheromones on a spun silken thread to attract the females. After selecting their partners, the male crawls over the female's back to stimulate her. Later, the males release a sac of stored sperm once the female raises the front segments. Females may mate just once and choose to fertilize all their eggs with the stored sperm or mate with multiple males for fertilization. On the other hand, males are known to mate with multiple females. She prepares a nest in which she lays only one egg. The egg is incubated by the female until it hatches, usually after a couple of weeks. The parents do not care for the young and leave them to fend for themselves. The newly hatched millipedes take up to one to two years to reach maturity and males usually mature before the females.

What is their conservation status?

These North American millipedes have not been evaluated by the IUCN and thus, have the status of Not Evaluated.

American Giant Millipede Fun Facts

What does the American Giant Millipede look like?

These North American millipedes have a long, cylindrical body with an exoskeleton made from chitin. Their body is divided into segments, and attached to each of these, are two pairs of legs. Although they look similar to the centipede, the major difference between the two species is that centipedes have a single pair of legs on each segment along with venomous claws on their heads. This millipede species has an overall black shade with maroon undertones. Sometimes, the rims of each body segment are brightly colored in purple, yellow, or pink hues. Their bodies have stink glands containing ozopores and spiracles on all the segments. Although this species has similar-looking males and females, the males' antennae and legs are longer than the females'. In addition, slight differences in the look and number of legs may be seen across the subspecies of this North American millipede.

These millipedes curl up when touched or threatened.

How cute are they?

These worm-like animals do not have a highly pleasing appearance and would not be considered cute.

How do they communicate?

Due to a lack of research, it isn't easy to know the communication pattern among these animals. However, these North American millipedes tend to communicate through the release of hormones during the mating season.

How big is the American Giant Millipede?

The American Giant Millipede size can be measured at a length of 4 in (10 cm), which is around two times smaller than the Giant Centipede.

How fast can an American Giant Millipede move?

Their movement speeds have not been recorded, but considering it is a species of millipedes, they would move comparatively slow.

How much does an American Giant Millipede weigh?

These millipedes are quite light and weigh around 0.17 oz (2.5 g) which is more than twice the weight of the Cicada Killer Wasp.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female of these North American millipedes share the same name. In addition, this millipede is also known as an iron worm.

What would you call a baby American Giant Millipede?

They can be called baby or juvenile millipedes.

What do they eat?

These millipedes have a detritivorous diet and usually eat decaying plant parts such as the roots, leaves, and wood.

Are they dangerous?

Although not life-threatening, these animals secrete a chemical containing large amounts of benzoquinones when threatened. This noxious secretion is known to cause skin burns or irritation.

Would they make a good pet?

Unless it is for research, it is not advised to keep these millipedes as pets, even more so because they live among soil litter in humid regions hidden away under dead trees, animal corpses, and decaying piles of leaves.

Did you know...

The most number of legs recorded on this millipede species is 375 pairs.

These millipedes are nocturnal and hibernate during the cold months while remaining active during the nights.

These animals are capable of moving sideways, forward, backward, and also burrow into the soil.

They have Tömösváry organs, which act as chemoreceptors and are used to measure humidity.

These North American millipedes are preyed on by raccoons, skunks, cockroaches, toads, lizards, moles, possums, and turtles.

Are American giant millipedes poisonous?

These millipedes are mildly noxious because of the liquid they release when threatened. This liquid contains huge amounts of benzoquinones, which are known to cause dermal burns and irritation. However, other species of millipedes produce hydrogen cyanide, which is extremely poisonous and can cause worse reactions when touched.

Do American Giant Millipedes bite?

No, these millipedes do not have teeth or pincers and therefore cannot bite. Their only defense mechanism is releasing the noxious liquid in their body.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods from our Giant African Millipede facts and House Centipede facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable American Giant Millipede coloring pages.

<p>With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".</p>

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