Millipedes and Their Defense Mechanisms

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Millipedes and Their Defense Mechanisms

The class the millipedes are in, Diplopoda, is intriguing because it is thought to be one of the first animals to make the transition from water to land. Our lab group sought to find out under what circumstances and how millipedes use defense mechanisms. Do the millipedes curl up into a ball to evade predators? Do they bite predators and prey to inject a venom? Do they have a camouflage coating? These questions were answered by our lab experiment. We took three different groups of millipedes and divided them by an external stimuli and looked for a response. The stimuli were a large wolf spider and a gentle probe. We placed the millipedes in separate containers and looked for any signs of defense. The results were a little shocking. The millipedes ignored the stimuli as if they did not feel a threat. Interestingly enough, this is because millipedes have very few natural predators, so they have little instinctive fear. Also, they do not need to inject poison into a predator or prey, because they are detritivores.

Interactions among species play a crucial role in the energy flow and chemical cycling of an environment. These interactions can form competitive, symbiotic or predatory relationships among organisms. In predator-prey relationships, prey employ various defense mechanisms against predators in order to increase the chances of survival and reproduction. The same hold true for millipedes. Millipedes, members of the class Diplopoda, are nocturnal arthropods. Millipedes have segmented bodies with a pair of legs on each segment, and range in colors from brown to bright green. They inhabit a variety of forested environments worldwide, particularly in dark and damp microclimates underneath rocks and soil, where they consume decaying plants (Rowland, 2009). Millipedes are descendants of insects that appeared on land over 400 million years ago. They are thought to be one of the first animals to...
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