61. Common Millipede

They like to form letters of the alphabet on our walls: p, d, q, b, l, s, o. Maybe they're trying to tell us something, but more likely they'll be just sleeping off the day after a night of running around looking for damp nooks and crannies. Millipedes (M: hanex ta' l-indewwa, millipied) may not be the most charismatic of animals, indeed the sum wisdom most people have of millipedes is that they stink when handled. This is true and it is their only defence against would-be predators. Despite their name, millipedes have nowhere near a thousand legs, but they can still boast a respectful 150, sometimes more. And considering the animal has to move them all in synchronised harmony just to walk about, it is something of an achievement, especially to those of us who sometimes stumble on our own two legs! Millipedes are not a threat to humans. On the contrary, they are detrivores: they eat rotting plants, and thus speed up the breakdown of dead plant matter, returning nutrients to the soil. The perfect little gardeners!

Text and photo by Victor Falzon.

Copyright to Birdlife Malta.

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