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American Giant Millipede (Narceus americanus-annularis-complex)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the American Giant Millipede.




Thick and round, the American Giant Millipede is one of the longest and largest millipedes found in North America.



 Updated: 6/15/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org




Sleek and smooth, the American Giant Millipede is a dark millipede with red or red-orange bands on each segment. Its legs and feet are also red, and there are many of them. The body of this diplopod is tubular, not flat, and each segment has two pairs of legs (two legs on the left side of a segment, and two legs on the right). It can grow longer than an adult’s finger, and it can curl up into a swirl, protecting its head and vulnerable legs. The American Giant Millipede can secret a chemical that can temporarily cause skin to discolor, but it does not secrete hydrogen cyanide, so it does not burn or blister skin if handled.

The American Giant Millipede is the most commonly-seen, robust millipede on the continent, and will crawl over gentle hands and obliging arms. This is a forest-dwelling millipede and usually moves under leaf litter and around trees and wood piles. Most millipedes feed on decomposing plant matter. Look for adults crawling on tree trunks or crossing paths in spring when mating occurs. Females use regurgitated food to create a small cup that holds one fertilized egg before being sealed. Adults remain active throughout summer and autumn. Mature and young millipedes overwinter in the soil or tucked away in rotting wood.


General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Rounded insect body icon
Striped or banded insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Diplopoda
      Order: Spirobolida
        Family: Spirobolidae [ View More ]
          Genus: Narceus [ View More ]
            Species: americanus-annularis-complex
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Descriptors
Scientific Name: Narceus americanus-annularis-complex
Other Name(s): Worm Millipede; Spirobolid Millipede; Iron Worm
Category: Millipede
Size (Adult; Length): 1mm to 126mm (0.04in to 4.91in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; red; brown
Descriptors: red feet; red legs; long; tube; smooth; rounded; red bands; amor plated; curl; curve
Relative Size Comparison
Lo: 1mm | Hi: 126mm
Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns.
Territorial Map
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
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