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The Most Poisonous Millipedes On Earth

Fairly docile creatures, millipedes rarely bite human beings and other creatures when threatened. This is because the millipedes do not have stings and pincers to attack predators. However, there are a few of these creepy millipedes whose body contains an arsenal of a highly toxic chemical. These millipedes carry glands that can produce irritating fluids and can cause allergic reactions. These Millipedes spray predators with a fluid that has a mixture of hydrochloric acid, Hydrogen cyanide, organic acids, phenol, cresols, benzoquinones, and hydroquinone. The secretion can burn human skin and result to skin discoloration.

Some of these millipedes that carry cyanide secretion are:

Pink Dragon Millipede – Desmoxytes Purposea

This is spiny and highly toxic millipedes have brilliant pink color from where the name pink dragon millipede was derived. It was first discovered at greater Mekong, Thailand in 2007 where it was described from a specimen collected at Hup Pa Tard Limestone. The largest species of Desmoxytes Purpurosea measures about 3 cm long. They have a body shape that closely looks like that of a dragon.

The millipede protects itself from danger producing hydrogen cyanide from its glands. Exposure to the millipede’s hydrogen cyanide for a long time can result to weakness in the body and symptoms like permanent paralysis, nervous lesions, and miscarriage. The poisonous millipede smells like almonds because it produces cyanide. It’s believed that the warm color is used to warn predators of the millipede’s toxicity.

Some of the millipedes that contain hydrogen cyanide are:

African Giant Black Millipedes  – Archispirostreptus Gigas

These African giants are some the largest millipedes in the world, growing up to 15.2 inches long. Known as Amashongololo in Zulu, African giant millipedes are kept by humans as a pet and can live up to seven years.

Other than rolling into a ball when disturbed, these African Giants produce a poisonous secretion from the pores on their bodies when threatened. When the secretion is introduced into the eyes or mouth of human beings, it results into serious harm. The secretion serves as a repellent to predators.

Africa Giant Millipedes inhabit the tropical and arid forest as well as savanna grasslands. They can be found along the eastern coast of Africa from Mozambique to Kenya. Black in color, these giants are rarely found in attitude that above 3.300 ft.

Pink-footed Millipedes – Dendrostreptus Macracanthus

Although pink footed millipedes are friendly to human beings, they can release a poisonous fluid that is harmful to some people. The fluid causes allergic problems when in contact with human body.

The level of the secretions effect varies with different people, where some may experience more sensitive-allergic conditions and some have mild or no harm.
These pink footed can be found in Tanzania and some parts of Kenya.

White Legged Snake Millipede – Tachypodoiulus Niger

Just like the African Giant Millipedes, White Legged Snake Millipede carries a poisonous secretion that is harmful to human eyes and mouth. The secretion can cause skin burn and discoloration due to the presence e of hydrogen cyanide. People who keep White Legged Snake Millipede as a pet must take the precaution of the animal’s poisonous secretion and need to seek immediate medical care in case of contact with the secretion.

These types of millipedes are scientifically known as Tachypodoiulus Niger or commonly called Black Millipede. They are a European species that can only be distinguished from Cylindroiulis Longines’s millipede from the shape of their rear-most segments. Black Millipedes have about 1200 pairs of contrasting white legs that give them their name. They survive in moss and litter feeding on algae and sometimes fruits. With a shining black body, White Legged Snake Millipede protects itself from predators like centipedes and hedgehogs by fleeing with a side-winding movement. Like all other millipedes, the millipedes coil itself into a hard spiral shape with legs inside and centered head when in danger.

White legged snake millipede is commonly located in chalky and limestone areas occurring in the British Isles, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, Czech Republic, France and Benelux.

Yellow-spotted millipede – Harpaphe Haydeniana

The millipede derives the name from its contrasting yellow legs and a shinning black body. Although it has few predators like the ground beetle, this invertebrate is capable of emitting toxic hydrogen cyanide to predators.

Anyone who touches or gets close to the yellow-spotted millipede will experience the smell similar to that of almond. This is because the animal has a strong almond scent used to keep predators away. Almond–scented Millipede can grow to 5 centimeters long with approximately twenty segments in its body. They have a life span of two to three years.

These species of millipedes are distributed in Monterrey County, California from South Alaska and can reach as far as Sierras Nevada Mountains.

Black and Flat Yellow Millipede – Pachydesmus Crassicutis

These types of millipedes may produce a foul odor by secreting Nitro Ethenyl benzenes and hydrogen cyanide to overcome predators. Although they do not bite humans, these types of millipedes should not be poorly handled. They excrete the poison through their skins, but the poison is not life threatening to human beings.

If the poison gets into the eyes, the victim may have an inflammation of the membrane lining the eyelids and an inflammation of the cornea. The person may also succumb to blindness if proper medication is not administered. Exposure may also lead to nausea and vomiting.

European Pill Millipede – Glomeris Marginata

Other than rolling into a ball to protect it from danger like many other millipedes behave, this type of millipede also produces noxious chemicals to put off predators. The millipede secretes one to eight drops of viscid fluid that contains quinazolinone alkaloids. The alkaloid is dissolved in a matrix of watery protein. European pill millipede can take almost four months to replenish the secretion once it has discharged the whole amount. Quinazolinone alkaloid is used as anti freeze and toxin to predators like spiders, insects, and ants.

This millipede can grow up to 20 mm and 8 mm wide and live in leaf litters as well as under stones where there are calcareous soils. They can be found in homes at bases of old walls and can be seen in sunny environments. These millipedes mate by producing a pheromone that attracts the female species.

The distribution of European pill millipede is in Central and North West Europe. The millipedes can be mostly found in the British Isles in the central belt of Scotland. Italy, Poland, Scandinavia and Spain are the region where these arthropods are found.

North American Millipede – Apheloria Virginiensis

Like many millipedes with poisonous glands, Apheforlia Virginiensis millipede produces a dangerous toxic compound that contains cyanide. Contact with the compound may not be death threatening, but one needs to wash the hands thoroughly.

The secretion discolors the skin and is capable of killing a chicken. The discoloration wears away after several days. The species ejects the secretion as far as three meters. These secretions can result to painful eyes. The chemicals can as well blind chicken and dogs.

Apheforlia Virginiensis is a North American millipede with a brightly colored body pattern.

Motyxia – Sierra Luminous Millipede

These types of millipedes will immediately ooze out a secretion of cyanide when touched or threatened by predators like a geophilid centipede and phengodid beetles. The animal will roll into a ball like all millipedes do when in danger. A fascinating thing about Sierra luminous millipede is their ability to glow brightly. Although they have no eyes, it’s interesting that they only wake up at night to feed and spends the rest of the day in hiding.


They have bioluminescence ability just like all members of the millipede in Motyxia genus. Mature millipedes can grow up to 4 cm in length and 8 mm in width. Sierra luminous millipede is some of the few identified classes of millipedes with bioluminescence capabilities. It has been hypothesized that the luminescence of Sierra luminous millipede is used as a warning signal.

They are native to North America, appearing in Los Kern and Tulare Angeles located in southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, Tehachapi Santa Monica mountains ranges of California.

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