Head & Eye Section of Millipede, Barbados Pocket Guide


Millipedes belong to the arthropod group. Unlike the centipede, they have two pairs of legs per body segment.  However, the first few segments behind the head have only one pair of legs each. Despite the name millipede which means 1,000 legs, they tend to have somewhere between 30 and a few hundred legs.


Millipedes in Barbados are brownish-black in colour with shades of orange, red or brown. They have very elongated cylindrical bodies and short legs that cause a wave-like appearance when they crawl.


Living Conditions

These creatures prefer dark and damp environments and feed primarily on living and decomposing vegetation. Their inability to tolerate too much water soon forces them to higher ground. Hence the reason we see so many almost seemingly invading our homes when the rainy season is here.



Millipedes provide an excellent aid in making compost as they heavily mulch on organic matter which they moisten with saliva before eating.


Defense Techniques

Once a millipede is seen curled into a tight coil, it is a sure sign that it is protecting itself from harm. As an act of defense, this comes a lot quicker than moving swiftly, which they are unable to do. As a secondary act of defense, they give off just enough poisonous doses of hydrogen cyanide that would cause burns in insects and irritation to the skins and eyes of humans and or other predators.


In the case of human beings, if eye exposure occurs, the eyes should be flushed thoroughly and repeatedly with water. It is known that when these secretions come in contact with the eyes, they are capable of causing conjunctivitis.


In The Home

Once in the home, millipedes are relatively easy to remove. Seen as more of a nuisance than anything else, they can be picked up with a dustpan and thrown out. It isn’t advisable to crush them as they can release a most off-putting scent and leave quite an unattractive stain behind.


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