Fun Flat-backed Millipede Facts For Kids

Divya Raghav
Oct 20, 2022 By Divya Raghav
Originally Published on Aug 18, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Flat-Backed Millipede Fact File
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.5 Min

Flat-backed millipedes are frequently mistaken for centipedes, and that is understandable, as they do appear alike, but there are numerous key differences that set centipedes and millipedes apart. For example, centipedes are commonly carnivorous in nature as they chase their prey, inject them with poison before eating them; millipedes, on the other hand, are detritivores which means that they feed on decaying plants consisting of leaf litter.

They are quite short in length in comparison to other species of millipedes. That is, they only have 20 segments which means they have a total of 40 legs.

If you like these then you should read our giant centipede facts and red millipede facts.

Flat-Backed Millipede Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a flat-backed millipede?

There are various species of millipedes on this planet. One such species within this group is the flat-back millipede. Millipedes are very long segmented invertebrates. They are very slow creatures but are able to excrete an almond-smelling fluid, known as cyanide, from the sides of their body if threatened by predators like spiders.

What class of animal does the flat-backed millipede belong to?

Polydesmus angustus are millipedes that have many legs on the segments of their body, and they belong to the Diplopoda class of animals.

How many flat-backed millipedes are there in the world?

There is no exact estimate on how many Diplopoda millipedes there are in the world, but it is known that they are in abundance and are found all over the world, typically in the soil.

Where does a flat-backed millipede live?

The Polydesmus angustus millipedes are located on all continents besides Antarctica due to the fact that they are burrowers and need soil. They managed to find themselves spread across the world as they were transported by human beings when they translated soil. This species was discovered in northwestern Europe and by accident came into the southeastern United States. They have now been transferred to all parts of the world.

What is a flat-back millipede's habitat of choice?

Diplopoda millipedes generally find themselves living in dark, damp habitats. This species of millipedes are found beneath leaf litter, woodpiles, and stones. Soil dwellers are generally discovered within the top layer of the soil. They are mostly found in decaying leaf litter in the soil in the forest.

Who do flat-backed millipedes live with?

Like the yellow flat-backed millipede, millipedes and centipedes live a solitary life and only get together for mating during their breeding season.

How long does a flat-backed millipede live?

The exact lifespan of the giant flat-backed millipede is not certain, but it has been observed that these millipedes and centipedes may live up to 10 years in captivity with the proper habitat provided.

How do they reproduce?

Breeding season starts from late spring through the summer season and then once more in late summer through mid-fall. The male flat-backed millipedes only mate once. However, they do have the ability to mate more than once, though this is unlikely to happen. Males produce pheromones or chemical substances which can be appealing to females. They additionally make a squeaking sound to get females to mate with them. After mating, the females lay six or seven dozen eggs in spring and once more in summer. Each egg is deposited in a capsule. The young ones molt once within the egg and then hatch about a few months later. Cooler temperatures can delay the hatching up to numerous months. The flat-backed millipede larvae take numerous years to attain adulthood before they can start mating. Females may also produce a dozen batches of eggs throughout their long life.

What is their conservation status?

Millipedes and centipedes, of the order Polydesmida, are in abundance all around the world and have been categorized as of Least Concern by the IUCN.

Flat-Backed Millipede Fun Facts

What do flat-backed millipedes look like?

Flat-Backed Millipede

Flat-backed millipedes are similar to centipedes. The bodies of the adult millipedes are flattened, dark brown, with approximately twenty body segments. The body segment that protects the back is ridged alongside its length. The antennae and legs of this specific species are typically longer than in most other species of millipedes. Another defense mechanism they employ when they feel threatened by a predator is to curl up into a ball. Centipedes only have one pair of legs on each of the segments, whereas millipedes have two pairs of legs on each of the segments.

How cute are they?

Millipedes and centipedes are not cute and instead are considered creepy as they have 40 legs and long antennae. However, this species of millipedes have fewer amount of legs compared to the other species of millipedes, and they are often found in leaf litter.

How do they communicate?

Unlike other insects, millipedes do not have good eyesight and rely on their antennae for direction, and it is believed that they communicate with each other using their scent or pheromones.

How big is a flat-backed millipede?

This species of millipede is 0.12-5.12 in (3-130 mm) in length. It is ten times bigger than the striped cucumber beetle.

How fast can a flat-backed millipede move?

There has been no research on how fast these millipedes move.

How much does a flat-backed millipede weigh?

There has not been any specific research on the weight of this millipede.

What is the name of the male and female of the species?

There are no sex-specific names for the males and females of this species.

What would you call a baby flat-backed millipede?

Baby flat-backed millipedes are known as larva.

What do they eat?

The diet of the flat-backed millipede includes dead leaves, roots, fruits, and decaying plant matter. They are often found in leaf litter in the soil searching for food.

Are they dangerous?

They are not dangerous to humans and may hide when confronted by them. Although when extremely threatened, their bite may cause irritation to humans.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these flat-back millipedes would not make good pets as they like to be in leaf litter and feed on decaying plants and therefore require this environment. They are also an important part of our cyclical ecosystem.

Did you know...

These millipedes have longer legs in length than other species of millipedes. They sometimes beat their legs on their body to attract a female to mate. The flat-backed millipede also likes to roll itself up when it is threatened to provide them with extra protection.

Can millipedes kill you?

No, millipedes cannot kill you. Are flat-backed millipedes poisonous? Yes, they do produce a poisonous fluid secretion that, at worst, will cause slight irritation of the skin, and it is recommended that it be washed off as soon as possible. Another interesting millipede is the giant African millipede.

Why are they called flat-backed millipedes?

They are known as flat-backed millipedes because they present on each other their body segments are wide keels which are called paranota. They are produced in the posterior half of each body ring behind the collum. Also, these millipedes are flat, hence the name!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other insects from our water spider facts and imperial moths facts pages.

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

Flat-Backed Millipede Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Dead leaves, roots, fruits, decaying plant materials

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?

grasslands, heathlands, moorlands, farmlands, woodlands, towns, forests, gardens

Where Do They Live?

north europe, southeastern united states

How Long Were They?

0.12-5.12 in (3-130 mm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Polydesmus angustus

What Do They Look Like?

Yellow, ivory, orange, dark brown, reddish-brown, black

Skin Type

Wet slimy, exoskeleton

What Are Their Main Threats?

habitat loss, predators, pesticides

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Divya Raghav

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

Divya Raghav picture

Divya RaghavBachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

With a diverse range of experience in finance, administration, and operations, Divya is a diligent worker known for her attention to detail. Born and raised in Bangalore, she completed her Bachelor's in Commerce from Christ University and is now pursuing an MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore. Along with her professional pursuits, Divya has a passion for baking, dancing, and writing content. She is also an avid animal lover who dedicates her time to volunteering for animal welfare causes.

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