Little information is available on the biology of the major black millipede. However, like most other millipedes, it is likely to be slow-moving, burrowing through soil and leaf litter and feeding on plant material, generally preferring leaves that have already been partly decomposed by bacteria and fungi. Food is chewed using the stout mouthparts, while receptors on the antennae allow the millipede to feel objects and detect chemical signals in the environment (4) (5). Being slow-moving, millipedes rely on the hard exoskeleton and on chemical secretions for defence (5).
In most millipedes, reproduction involves the transfer of sperm from the male to the female using one or more specially modified pairs of legs, known as gonopods. The female may then lay the eggs in a prepared nest, but usually leaves them to hatch alone. The young hatch into a legless ‘pupoid’ stage, possessing only around seven body segments, and then pass through various stages, known as stadia, adding more body segments, legs and ocelli at each stage (4) (5). The major black millipede is thought to take at least two years to reach maturity (1).