Pill millipede (Glomeris marginata)

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Pill millipede curled up
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Pill millipede fact file

Pill millipede description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassDiplopoda
OrderGlomerida
FamilyGlomeridae
GenusGlomeris (1)

The pill millipede is often confused with the pill woodlouse (Armadillium vulgare), but can be distinguished by its shiny cuticle, the presence of a large 'shield-like' plate behind the head, and the fact that it has more legs than the woodlouse (2). When threatened, this species rolls into a tight ball, hence the common name (3). Most pill millipedes are shiny and black in colour, although red, yellow and brown individuals occur (2).

Size
Female length: 8-20 mm (2)
Male length: 7-15 mm (2)
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Pill millipede biology

This species feeds on dead organic matter (1); it tends to be active mainly at night, and shows a preference for humid areas, such as below logs and stones, to avoid desiccation. However, thanks to its ability to roll into a ball, it is much more tolerant of dry conditions than many other species of millipede (4).

Males transfer sperm to females by means of heavily built, modified rear legs known as gonopods (3). Eggs are laid singly, and are coated in a protective layer of digested earth, secreted from the anus. It takes around 3 years for juveniles to reach maturity, during this time they progress through nine moults, and the adults then continue to moult periodically (4). British pill millipedes are known to have lived for as long as 11 years (3).

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Pill millipede range

Although widespread and common in Britain, this millipede has not been recorded further north than Edinburgh (1).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Pill millipede habitat

Seems to prefer calcareous soils, and can be found amongst leaf litter in woodlands (4), fields and hedgerows (2).

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Pill millipede status

Common and widespread in Britain (2).

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Pill millipede threats

Not threatened at present.

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Pill millipede conservation

Conservation action has not been targeted at this common species.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Find out more

For more on invertebrates and their conservation see Buglife, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust at:
http://www.buglife.org.uk/

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Calcareous
Containing free calcium carbonate, chalky.
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References

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (Jan 2003): http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
  2. Cloudsley-Thompson, J.L. & Sankey, J. (1961) Land invertebrates: a guide to British worms, molluscs and arthropods (excluding insects). Methuen & Co Ltd., London.
  3. O'Toole, C. (2002) The new encyclopedia of insects and their allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. Nichols, D., Cooke, J. & Whiteley, D. (1971) The Oxford Book of Invertebrates. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
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Image credit

Pill millipede curled up  
Pill millipede curled up

© Steve Hopkin / www.ardea.com

Ardea wildlife pets environment
59 Tranquil Vale
London
SE3 0BS
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 318 1401
ardea@ardea.co.uk
http://www.ardea.com

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