We made this short movie about the cherry millipede, Apheloria virginiensis corrugata. Known from forests in the eastern U.S., the cherry millipede oozes cyanide and feeds on decaying leaves and other detritus.
About our research
Department of Entomology
Virginia Tech (MC0319)
Price Hall, Room 216A
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
- Costa Rica
- Illacme plenipes
Thanks for the great video. As others have said, the fascinating world of millipedes need more of this kind of field and lab publicity. I look forward to the next one and sharing this video with others here in Sigmocheirland.
Nice video, thanks for posting it.
I noticed one while digging in the dirt in my yard last year, and then had a swollen knuckle for a day or so. Could that have been the cyanide? I need to wear gloves while digging in the dirt!
KM (Master Naturalist)
Oh no! Although some millipedes certainly have secretions that irritate the skin, these cyanide producing millipedes’ secretions don’t. I suspect the knuckle sweller culprit was a plant, many of which have irritating hairs.
Very nice! The lovely wood thrush singing in the background really makes it seem like we’re in the peaceful deep forest.
I cannot find an origin for the name “Apheloria”. “Aphe-” from Greek seems to mean “free” but that’s as far as I could get. Any idea?
Thank you for your note. I recorded the audio and video separately (and simultaneously) and put them together again while editing.
In 1921, Chamberlin described Apheloria, but, as was typical with his descriptions, didn’t provide an etymology. https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/3045782
I very much suspect that the genus name was derived from the Greek “apheles” meaning ‘smooth’ https://archive.org/details/compositionofsci00brow/page/95/mode/1up
Why smooth? The gonopods (2nd pair of legs used for sperm transfer) of Apheloria are especially smooth and circular—not like any other genus: Figure 3 in https://mapress.com/zt/article/view/zootaxa.4375.3.7/13594 [compare the non-smooth gonopods of this new species, Sigmoria beameri https://academic.oup.com/view-large/figure/229319650/ixab003_fig13.jpg ]