We disturbed this smartly dressed Pill Millipede (Glomeris marginata) one April afternoon when we moved a stone. According to Naturespot, they like nothing more than rooting around amongst leaf litter in woodlands at night, snacking on dead organic matter. Sounds harmless enough. They prefer calcareous soil, which we have, but are generally widespread and common, except that for some strange reason they refuse to venture north of Edinburgh.
The Pill Millipede is sometimes confused with the Pill Woodlouse but if you can persuade it to unroll you’ll find it has two legs per segment compared to the Woodlouse’s one. Woodlice (known as Chiggy Pigs in Devon) are the only large group of fully terrestrial crustaceans, relatives of crabs and lobsters rather than insects like our millipedes. Interesting then, that both have come up with the same solution to the predator problem and look so similar.
Eggs are laid singly, and are coated in a protective layer of digested earth. It takes around 3 years for juveniles to reach maturity, and the adults then continue to moult periodically. British pill millipedes are claimed to live for as long as 11 years. Amazing little beasts.
Other pill millipede specie are of course available. Feel free to watch Doug the Giant Pill Millipede in his own YouTube show. Over 140,000 views and still climbing.