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Red-sided Flat Millipede - Sigmoria

Red-sided Flat Millipede - Sigmoria
Auburn, Alabama, USA
November 19, 2004
This specimen is red-sided flat millipede, sigmoria aberrans, see thumbnail reference below. One of the very interesting characteristics of this millipede is that it secretes benzaldehye, the principal characterizing odor molecule in cherry or almond odors. The odor from this specimen was so great that it led me to make a visual connection.

Moved from Almond Millipede.

Auburn milliped
The milliped from Auburn is quite different from that at Tallahassee, as evidenced by the totally different color pattern, dorsally black with red paranota (lateral segmental expansions on the dorsa) as opposed to red banded. The Auburn millipede is indeed a species of Sigmoria, but off the top of my head, I can't remember what occurs there. This photo also clearly shows the smooth, glossy dorsum in Sigmoria, as opposed to the roughened dorsum in Cherokia. The Tallahassee millipede clearly has a roughened dorsum, but I'm not certain that Cherokia is known from Florida's capital city.

I am no millipede expert, but the warning colors suggest this may be one of the species that secrete cyanide compounds as a means of defense (which would also account for the almond odor). I strongly urge bugguide visitors NOT to handle these animals, at least not without a washbasin handy.

Just saw your comment about t
Just saw your comment about the almond millipede. I've handled these things, and I have also seen a few birds eat them. They don't appear to secrete cyanide, and I can't find any information that says that they do. I suspect that they have warning colors, as do many millipedes, because they can produce a bad odor, and probably a bad taste to most animals (although it doesn't seem to bother the local robins).