Millipedes, or “thousand leggers”, normally live outdoors where they feed on damp and decaying wood and vegetable matter, as well as on tender roots and green leaves on the ground. Their slow-crawling rounded bodies have two pairs of legs on each body segment except for the first three which have but one pair of legs on each segment. Many millipede species protect themselves by means of glands that secrete an unpleasant odor. About 1,000 species of millipedes occur in the United States and an expert is required to distinguish between the species. According to N.B. Causey, an authority on millipedes, “the life history of most of them is as follows: fertilization is internal; eggs are deposited in clusters in the soil, sometimes in a capsule prepared for them by the female; the first larvae have three pairs of legs in most species; the larvae pass through a series of molts; during each molt the number of legs, and segments is increased; the number of molts, legs and segments varying within the species. Usually there are from seven to ten molts. When sexual maturity is reached, the molting is usually discontinued. Many species reach sexual maturity the second year; others spend four or five years in the larval stage and then live several years after that.” For the most part, invasions of millipedes are limited to one to a few individuals. For some reasons, yet unknown, masses of millipedes will begin “migrations” that bring hundreds, even thousands into yards and onto and into homes and other buildings. Often, these migrations occur during the fall; however, spring and summer migrations have been encountered.
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