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Genus Polyxenus

Soft Millipede - Polyxenus lagurus any idea what this is? - Polyxenus Millipedes - Polyxenus mystery class of arthropoda; collembola-like but with 4 or 5 leg pairs - Polyxenus mystery class of arthropoda; collembola-like but with 4 or 5 leg pairs - Polyxenus Small larva - Polyxenus Polyxenus - Polyxenus lagurus Polyxenus
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Myriapoda (Myriapods)
Class Diplopoda (Millipedes)
Order Polyxenida (Bristly Millipedes)
Family Polyxenidae
Genus Polyxenus
Other Common Names
Fuzzy Millipede, Pincushion Millipede
Explanation of Names
Polyxenus Latreille 1802
6 spp. in our area, ~30 total(1)
~2 mm
Known North American occurrences from (2)
P. fasciculatus: MD‒TX‒IL
P. lagurus: much of the US and Eurasia
P. pugetensis: OR, WA, BC?
P. anacapensis: Channel Islands off so.CA.
typically, litter and bark, also commonly on rocks and old walls (Wright & Westh 2006)
Sometimes communal:
Quinn (2000) collected >900 spmns throughout Mar‒Aug sampling in central Texas. They were fairly evenly present on live oak, cedar elm and juniper, but less than 20 were found on red oak(3)
algal films and lichens (Wright & Westh 2006)
Life Cycle
P. fasciculatus defends itself against ants by use of a pair of bristle tufts at its rear. When attacked, it wipes the tufts against the ants, thereby causing these to become encumbered by bristles that detach from the tufts. Ants contaminated with bristles desist from their assault. The bristles have grappling hooks at the tip by which they lock onto setae of the ants and barbs along their length by which they interlink. In attempting to rid themselves of bristles, ants may succeed only in further entangling themselves by causing the bristles to become enmeshed. Ants heavily contaminated may remain entangled and die. Most millipedes have chemical defenses; polyxenids, instead, have a mechanical weapon. (Eisner et al. 1996)
often active in warm and dry conditions and direct sunlight.
Print References
Eisner T., Eisner M., Deyrup M. (1996) Millipede defense: use of detachable bristles to entangle ants. PNAS 93: 10848–10851. Full text
Wright J.C., Westh P. (2006) Water vapour absorption in the penicillate millipede Polyxenus lagurus (Diplopoda: Penicillata: Polyxenida): microcalorimetric analysis of uptake kinetics. J. Exp. Biol. 209: 2486‒2494. (Full text)
Works Cited
1.Sierwald P., Spelda J. (2023) MilliBase
2.Checklist of the millipeds of North and Middle America
Richard L. Hoffman. 1999. Virginia Museum of Natural History Special Publications.
3.Abundance and distribution of potential arthropod prey species in a typical Golden-cheeked Warbler habitat.
Quinn, M.A. 2000. Unpublished Thesis. Texas A&M University, College Station. ix + 182 pp.