Quick facts

Common name: flat-backed millipede

Scientific name: Polydesmus angustus

Family: Polydesmidae

Habitat: woodland, moorland, parks and gardens, farmland, grassland

Predators: birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians

Origin: native

What do flat-backed millipedes look like?

This species has a long, flat, segmented body with a large number of legs. It is orangey-brown in colour and measures around 2cm in length.

The UK is home to numerous millipede species which are difficult to tell apart. However, you can distinguish between millipedes and centipedes by looking at the legs. Millipedes have two pairs of legs per body segment, compared to just one for centipedes.

Flat-backed millipede

Credit: PREMA PHOTOS / naturepl.com

What do flat-backed millipedes eat?

Most millipedes are herbivores, eating decaying vegetation that has fallen to the ground. This species uses its flat body shape to move around the soil and leaf litter in search of food.

Did you know?

When threatened millipedes may roll into a protective ball. Some species can even release a foul-smelling secretion to put off predators.

How do flat-backed millipedes breed?

After mating, the female lays her eggs buried in soil. The young will hatch with only a few pairs of legs, steadily growing more as they develop.

Flat-backed millipede on mud

Credit: Papilio / Alamy Stock Photo

Where do flat-backed millipedes live?

This is a common species that can be found in a variety of habitats across the UK. It spends most of its time buried in soil or underneath leaf litter.

Signs and spotting tips

Millipedes are secretive creatures that spend most of their life out of sight. Your best chance of seeing one is to lift up a rock or fallen log and see if one these many-legged minibeasts is hiding underneath.

Did you know?

Despite their name millipedes do not have 1,000 legs. Depending on species the number of legs ranges from 40 to 400 pairs.