Found a millipede?

I am interested in bioluminescent millipedes and other (non-luminescent) millipedes for my research.

Of special interest, are individuals of the species Motyxia monica (especially those from Los Angeles County, California*)

How to determine if your millipede is bioluminescent:

  1. Known bioluminescent millipedes are limited to the California counties of Los Angeles, Kern, and Tulare, so if you found your millipede outside of this geographical area there’s a good chance that it doesn’t glow

  2. Other arthropods, like railroad worms, look similar to millipedes and are also bioluminescent. A good way to distinguish between a railroad worm (which is a beetle) and a millipede is to count the legs. If the creature has more than 6 legs, usually many more, then it’s probably a millipede.

  3. With your millipede, go to a very dark room (like a photography darkroom or your bathroom, even better if it’s night)

  4. Make it darker by turning off all the lights (including monitors, power lights, night lights, etc.)

  5. While keeping your eyes open, wait (in the dark) for 5 minutes

  6. This is so your eyes adjust to the darkness (called dark adaptation). With young folks this happens fast (sometimes less than 20 seconds). It takes a little longer for older folks (up to 10 minutes)

  7. Stare at your millipede

  8. If you can make out a greenish bioluminescence with your eyes, you’re seeing things, or it’s a bioluminescent millipede

If you see it glow, tell me about it. I can be contacted by email at 

If you don’t see any glow, then it’s probably not a bioluminescent millipede. I’m still interested in hearing about it.

Millipedes that you send for research should be preserved for subsequent molecular work (e.g., DNA sequencing and genomics). This primer describes techniques for molecular grade preservation.

* Bioluminescent millipedes haven’t been recorded from Los Angeles County, California since 1966! Populations were once known from the Hollywood hills and nearby Santa Monica Mountains.