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6 Types of Millipedes in California (Pictures)

Millipedes are intriguing arthropods that can be found in a variety of habitats throughout the state of California. From the leggiest of them all, the Illacme plenipes, to the bioluminescent Xystocheir bistipita, to the cylindrical Californiulus yosemitensis, these fascinating creatures have captured the attention of scientists and nature enthusiasts alike.

In this article, we’ll dive into the captivating world of millipedes in California and examine some of the characteristics that make them unique. 

6 Species of Millipedes Found in California

1. Common millipede

Common millipede inside a fallen coconut tree
Common millipede inside a fallen coconut tree | image by Own work via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientific name: Diploiulus luscus

A common millipede is an arthropod that lives in the state of California. It’s a small invertebrate with a cylinder-shaped body and many segments, with two pairs of legs on each segment. Most of the time, these little critters live in damp places like forests and grasslands, where they eat dead plants and animals.

You can find common millipedes all over California and in many other places in the United States. They’re generally found in damp areas such as gardens, under rocks, and in soil that’s rich in organic matter. You may also find these amazing creatures in basements or other areas of a home that have high humidity levels.

2. Californiulus yosemitensis

Californiulus yosemitensis on the ground
Californiulus yosemitensis on the ground | image by Ken-ichi Ueda via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0

Scientific name: Californiulus yosemitensis

The Californiulus yosemitensis is a species of cylindrical millipede that belongs to the family Paeromopodidae. It’s one of the millipedes that can be found in the Sierra Nevada of California. You can also find this animal in certain parts of Nevada and the southeastern corner of the state of Oregon. 

It’s possible to recognize them by their bodies that are black, and their dorsal bands are either yellow or orange, with a black stripe running down the middle of the band. In addition, it can reach a length of up to 11 centimeters and have as many as 80 body segments.  

3. Greenhouse millipede 

Greenhouse millipede
Greenhouse millipede | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Oxidus gracilis

The Greenhouse millipede, which also goes by the name short-flange millipede, is a species that has been widely introduced worldwide, including in California. As adults, they can reach a length of 0.91 inches and have bodies with a brownish hue, while their legs are a pale cream color. 

Greenhouse millipedes are native to Japan, but can now be found in many other countries around the world, particularly in tropical and temperate regions of North and South America. The name of these creatures comes from the fact that you can frequently spot them in greenhouses, particularly in flowerbeds. 

4. Paeromopus paniculus

Scientific name: Paeromopus paniculus

There is a species of millipede known as Paeromopus paniculus, and it can only be found in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California in the United States. It has been measured to be as long as 16.5 centimeters (6.5 inches) in length and has a bluish-gray body color with lighter bands. It’s the millipede species that’s known to be the longest in North America. 

The species has succeeded in thriving in the diverse ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada mountains, particularly those found within Yosemite National Park and other areas in Mariposa County. It thrives in cool, moist soil and is known to co-occur with Californiulus yosemitensis

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5. Illacme plenipes

Female illacme plenipes
Female illacme plenipes | image by Marek, P. via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 3.0

Scientific name: Illacme plenipes

The millipede known as Illacme plenipes can be found in the central region of California. It’s one of the two species of the genus Illacme that have been described so far. This creature is distinguished from other millipede species by the fact that it can have up to over 600 legs, which is more than any other millipede species.

Some individuals even have 750 legs. The millipede was first found in 1926 and was thought to be the animal with the most legs until the Eumillipes persephone was discovered and took the record. Female Illacme plenipes can grow to be up to 3 centimeters in length, whereas males are significantly smaller and have fewer legs. 

6. Xystocheir bistipita

Scientific name: Xystocheir bistipita

The Xystocheir bistipita, a species of millipede that’s known for its bioluminescence, was one of the millipedes recently found in the foothills of San Luis Obispo, California. The California coastal sage and chaparral are the only habitats where you can find this particular millipede species. 

They have a color that’s somewhere between light tan and beige, and there are pink spots on the paranota. Even though these small creatures emit a bluish-green glow, they’re actually blind and don’t have eyes.