For I Have Seen Millipedes Migrate‏

I have always been fascinated by the opportunities the natural World presents to observe the unusual, unexpected, and the bizarre.  I consider myself most fortunate to have witnessed things that most of us would never experience in a dozen lifetimes.  I figure Winchester Cathedral has been available for viewing 24/7 for 921 years, and can still be viewed by anyone, anytime they might desire to. But you gotta be in the right place, at the right time, looking the right way, and looking closely to see  … millipedes migrating.

The wife and I were driving Home from a walk in Peter’s Woods Provincial Nature Reserve yesterday when she started swerving to dodge what appeared to be caterpillars all over the road.  As their numbers increased, it became positively weird.  We pulled over to see what kind of caterpillars they were.

Now you gotta know something about the wife here to appreciate what happened next. The wife’s revulsion to critters is directly proportional to the number of legs they have.  Ants are fine, some spiders are creepy, but centipedes and millipedes  … are the spawn of Satan.  So you can just imagine her reaction when she realized those caterpillars were millipedes.  Creepy, crawling 3 inch long millipedes.

Heay ! That ain't no caterpillar.

Heay ! That ain’t no caterpillar.

We’ve never seen anything like it. There were hundreds of them, all marching across the road, heading east. The phenomenon went on for near half a kilometer right where the road ran through a forested area.  We left the car and wandered along the road to get a closer look. They appeared to have a problem once they completed crossing the road, as we found dozens of them dead in the sand on the east shoulder.  I’m assuming they were desiccated by the heat of the road and the dry sand on the shoulders.  One was being dissected by an ant colony while another had escaped the attack and was soldiering on into the woodlot ahead. There was no way to tell how long it had been going on nor how long it would continue.

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I looked it up when I got Home under the search terms “millipede migration” as that was exactly what it looked like. Turns out, that’s exactly what it’s called too. Apparently, millipedes live in nests with populations in the hundreds. They can live for up to 5 years and can lay 300 eggs in that time. The young don’t go any further than the nest from the minute they hatch until a migration. Exactly what causes the migration is anyone’s guess but it’s thought to be a response to an ecological disaster, basically too wet or too dry. There is also the possibility of over-population causing a mass exodus. This is supported by stories of invasions involving hundreds of thousands of millipedes covering the sides of houses. Seems nothing can stop them once they start moving en masse.  Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would’ve questioned the stuff I read on the I’Net afterward.  Apparently they don’t smell very pleasant when they die either, though I can’t say as I smelled anything nasty as I walked around the dead ones.

Anyway, the wife toughied up and took it like a man.  Though, I’m sure her skin was crawling … kinda like one of those millipedes eh dear ?  HA !!  I’m just having a bit O’ fun with the wife here since she’s our editor and reads everything we write before we publish.  This is one posting I’m sure she’ll be happy to approve without re-writes requiring further reviews.  I’ll close this posting with a heart-felt apology for funning with her.  Please scroll down for this apology dear.

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GOTCHA !!  HA !!

I guess I’m sleeping on the couch tonight folks !

Bushwhacker

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