myriapodsMyriapoda is a group (subphylum) of arthropods (which also includes insects, arachnids and crustaceans) containing millipedes, centipedes, and others. The group has 13,000 known species, all of which are terrestrial (land dwellers). Although their name suggests they have myriad (10,000) legs, myriapods range from having over 750 in some species to others having fewer than ten legs. Around 15 species of millipedes are known to occur locally. The most common home encounter is the Common Millipede Pachyiulus flavipes ─Žanex tal-Indewwa/Tad-Djar, which is found in most local establishments where a high level of humidity persists. They can be handled, and are quite docile and slow moving. This species, like most, has two main modes of defense used by its members if they feel threatened: curling into a tight spiral exposing only the hard exoskeleton, and secretion of an irritating liquid from pores in their body wall. Centipedes make up the order Chilopoda. They are fast, predatory and venomous, hunting mostly at night. There are around 3,300 species. They range from species not exceeding 12 mm to others which may exceed 30 cm. About 16 species have been recorded in the Maltese islands. Although not generally considered dangerous to humans, many myriapods produce noxious secretions which can cause temporary blistering and discolouration of the skin.