Flat-backed Millipede

Polydesmus angustus

  1. Wildlife
  2. Invertebrates
  3. Flat-backed Millipede


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. A familiar group of millipedes includes the Flat-backed Millipede, which can be found under rocks in the garden or in the compost heap. They are very slow-moving creatures but can excrete almond-smelling fluids (cyanide) from their sides if threatened.

How to identify

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 it



When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Many of our commonly overlooked insects are actually important nutrient-recyclers in the habitats they live in. Minibeasts, such as millipedes, can be encouraged into the garden by the provision of logs, stone piles and compost heaps for them to hide, feed and breed in. In turn, other species will be attracted to the garden, as minibeasts are a food source for many animals, including mammals, birds and amphibians, providing a vital link in the food chain. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Flat-backed Millipede
Latin name
Polydesmus angustus
Length: 2.4cm
Conservation status