Friday, February 24, 2012

Myriapods Are Awake

I set out today to photograph mosses, lichens, and maybe some ferns, and check on what else of interest I might find around the Keddie Cascades.  We had a warm afternoon, and some of the pieces of bark and discarded boards on the ground absorbed enough sunlight that the bugs underneath became active.  The top three photos here are of a centipede i found under a small piece of plywood in the forest.  I picked it up with a stick and after playing with it for a few minutes, it became very active and stretched out to run at full speed.  The millipede was under a rotting log.  It's not a full adult, so it had a pale pinkish white color and was quite inactive.  I breathed on it for a few minutes, and that was sufficient to motive it to crawl away, although very slowly, as millipedes always do.  If you click on these for enlargements, you can see the main differences between centipedes and millipedes.  If these were video clips, you'd see there are obvious behavioral differences, too.  My favorite trait to watch is the wave patterns of their legs while walking.  The way they hold their antennae is a clue to their preferred diets.  The centipedes, which are carnivores, not only move much faster, but they wave their antennae around in all directions, seldom touching the ground.  The millipedes, which move slowly, let their antennae droop to the ground as if tasting.  They dine on dead and decaying plant and animal matter.

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