Saturday, June 12, 2010
Mianus Millipede Update
Here's an update about our mysterious millipede found along the Mianus River near Bedford, New York (see post for May 26). It is NOT Pleuroloma flavipes Rafinesque, 1820, as had been suspected, but rather Boraria stricta, a much more common species.
I spoke today with Dr. Rowland M. Shelley, Curator of Terrestrial Invertebrates at the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. A year ago, when I first posted photos of this yellow-marked millipede, my friend Ellen Rathbone contacted Dr. Shelley about this creature, and he thought it might be that particular Pleuroloma and asked to have me send him a specimen of a male individual, since no specimen from New York existed in any collections.
So this year when I returned to Bedford, I did collect some specimens, although at the time I had no idea how to tell a male from a female. After speaking with Dr. Shelley today, I would know what to look for, but it turns out I won't have to send my specimens anyway. He is quite sure, he told me, that mine are the Boraria species. And in the meantime, one of those Pleuroloma millipedes was discovered in Brooklyn, a long way from where it was last (and first!) reported in Catskill, New York, in 1820. It must have hitched a ride on somebody's transplanted rhododendron.
So, mystery solved. And what a delight to chat with such a passionately-fascinated-by-millipedes man! It is so much fun to talk with enthusiasts about their favorite subject, whatever that subject may be, whether bugs or blooms. Thank you, Dr. Shelley, for our most entertaining and educational conversation. I promise to keep overturning those rocks and logs.