Martin Harvey's picture

Beetle larva? - no, Bristly Millipede

Observed: 14th July 2009 By: Martin Harvey
Berkshire Moth GroupFSC - Field Studies CouncilSoldierflies and Allies Recording SchemeBuckinghamshire Invertebrate Group
Invertebrates expert
unknown beetle larva - Windsor Hill 2 cropped
unknown beetle larva - Windsor Hill 0 cropped

I think this must be a beetle larva, but don't know what type of beetle. It's tiny, and was beaten from Juniper bushes (the Juniper needles next to it give an idea of the small size).

Species interactions

No interactions present.


Martin Harvey's picture

Bristly Millipede

Well, I was completely wrong about that one! I'm grateful to Max Barclay of the Natural History Museum for pointing out that this is a millipede not a beetle. According to the books it is often found in churchyards, but also known from wooded habitats and from coastal situations.

Not just a new species for me, but a whole new sub-class! - the Bristly Millipede is the only UK representative of sub-class Penicillata.

Entomologist and biological recorder

the naturalist man's picture


I have to say in all the years I've been beating trees I've never come across one of these, are they a Southern species?

I 'Googled' the scientific name and am not much wiser. However, I did discover it is on the World Register of Marine Organisms as being found in the littoral zone. Therefore, this one species can be found in woodland, graveyards (why graveyards?) and the salty environment of the littoral zone. Presumably they are using the wider definition of littoral, i.e. including the splash zone above the high tide mark and not the usual definition, as an alternative for intertidal zone as that would mean it could survive inundation by the sea.

I can not think of any species of invertebrate that is regularly found in the intertidal zone and a non-salty terrestrial habitat such as woodland.

The physiology and ecology of such a species intrigues me.

Graham Banwell

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Martin Harvey's picture


As far as I can tell from the Atlas of Millipedes for Britain and Ireland, this is a species associated with crevices: in woodland it lives under bark, in churchyards it lives in cracks in the stone of gravestones and walls, on the coast it lives under mats of salt-tolerant plants such as Sea Pink, and also under mosses and lichens. There are coastal records from the south coast of England north to the Firth of Tay in Scotland, but most of the inland records are in the southern half of England, so it may be that like some other invertebrates it can survive in the north by using the warmer, frost-free conditions on parts of the coast.

Entomologist and biological recorder