Flat-backed millipede

Flat-backed Millipede

Flat-backed Millipede ©northeastwildlife.co.uk

Flat-backed millipede

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Scientific name: Polydesmus angustus
Found in compost heaps and under stones in gardens, the Flat-backed millipede is a common minibeast. Despite its name, it only has about 40 legs. It is an important recycler of nutrients, feeding on decaying matter.

Top facts


Length: 2.4cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


There are a number of millipede species in the UK; one familiar group includes the Flat-backed millipede, which can be found under rocks and in compost heaps in the garden, as well as in rotting trees in woodland. Millipedes are very long, many-segmented invertebrates that live in the soil, under rocks, or under the bark of trees. They are vegetarians, eating mildew and decaying vegetation, and perform a useful nutrient-recycling function in various habitats. They are very slow-moving creatures, but can excrete almond-smelling fluids (cyanide) from their sides if threatened.

What to look for

The Flat-backed millipede is orangey-brown with a long, flattened body that resembles a centipede. However, centipedes have only one pair of legs per segment of their body, whereas millipedes have two. There are many millipede species in the UK, which can be difficult to tell apart.

Where to find


Did you know?

The Flat-backed millipede is relatively short for a millipede: it only has about 20 segments, which means just 40 legs.