BBC America is bringing us yet another animal adventure TV show, Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan. Inspired I put forth a proposal, only to find out the Independent budget doesn’t have a line item set up allowing me to travel to South East Asia in search of amazing insects! Not to be deterred I regrouped and realized there are plenty of fascinating creepy crawlies right here in our own backyards – take that BBCA!
Let me introduce you to a local millipede that is just as beautiful and exotic as you could find in any tropical climate. Though considerably smaller than it’s tropical cousins, at just under two inches, Harpaphe haydeniana is still a stand out resident of the Upper Rogue. It is also known as the yellow-spotted millipede, almond-scented millipede or cyanide millipede. Wait…what? Cyanide?! Yes, this pretty fellow is bright for a reason! As with most pretty insects they can afford to stand out because they are quite deadly to…well to your average shrew or mouse. Emitting and almond like scent the cyanide millipede exudes enough poison to kill it’s common would be predators, though a single millipede isn’t going to cause a bit of harm to a human. It’s best to live and let live because these little guys are an important part of our ecosystem!
Their key role is in the regulation of plant litter decomposition and nutrient cycling. Specifically in the modification in the physical and chemical character of the litter. Both the adult and immature individuals feed on organic matter and the cyanide may be an extra help in this decomposing process as well as being a nifty defense!