Sunday 14 June 2015

A wander for millipedes

We had a walk in our local cemetery today. The eastern part of the cemetery is the oldest and the area has been pretty much left to run wild for many decades. There are huge trees embracing headstones and ivy also covering them, so sometimes it is not obvious you are in a cemetery. It is a muddy and wild place to explore. The cemetery has a lot of dead wood left on the ground and loose stones, which makes it a great place to search for millipedes: today's wild thing.
 We pushed through nettle beds, brambles and hogweed, waded through muddy puddles, crossed others by walking on logs and did a little millipede collection on the way. The wet weather had also brought some interesting fungi.
 Millipedes do often go unnoticed, as they live under the cover of logs, bark and stones, on leaf-litter or in the soil. They have many similar body segments and a pair of legs on each segment. Despite their name, no species reaches 1000 legs. Millipedes have defensive glands and they often open into colour spots on the side of the body called ozadenes. There are about 60 British species of which we found four.
Pterostichus niger ground beetle, centipede, Discus snail under stone.
Tachypodoiulus niger is very easy to identify as it has a black body and white legs. When disturbed it wriggles like a snake. I often find it on dead wood.
In contrast, Cylindroiulus punctatus curls up when disturbed.

Here is once stretched. C. puctatus has a characteristic face mask between its eyes and a clubbed tail end.
In Blaniulus guttulatus the ozadenes are bright red. This species has no eyes and it's thin and tiny
Here are two Blaniulus guttulatus under a stone. They are often found together in large numbers.
A Flat-backed millipede, Polydesmus sp.
The Sycamore embracing a headstone.
A mushroom on yew that looked like mango ice cream.
Lots of Jelly ear fungus.

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