Overview

Comprehensive Description

Narceus millipedes are known from two Canadian provinces (Québec and Ontario); every U.S. state east of the Mississippi River; and nine states to the west (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas). These large, cylindrical millipedes may reach four inches in length as adults and are commonly encountered in a wide range of habitats and within a broad elevational range in the eastern United States. (Shelley et al. 2006 and references therein)

The genus Narceus includes two valid species endemic to Florida (N. gordanus and N. woodruffi) as well as two of uncertain status which occur throughout the range of the genus and may be referred to as the “N. americanus/annularis complex”. According to Shelley et al. (2006), the N. americanus/annularis complex likely includes unrecognized cryptic species, particularly in the southern portion of its distribution. Narceus annularis appears to have a generally more northern distribution than N. americanus, with only the former reportedly found in Canada, New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas; only the latter found in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas; and both species occurring in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Shelley et al. (2006) discuss the taxonomic history of this group and provide a thorough review and analysis of distribution records, but emphasize the need for a modern revision of the genus, including molecular genetic analyses.

Narceus americanus is a natural (and probably a primary) intermediate host of the acanthocephalan parasite Oligacanthorhynchus tortuosa. It appears likely that transmission directly from this intermediate millipede host to the definitive host (the only known definitive host being the Virginia Opossum, Didelphis virginiana) is the primary means of transmission for O. tortuosa. The work by Richardson (2006) documenting these host relationships provided the first elucidation of a life cycle of an Oligacanthorhynchus acanthocephalan and resulted in the first description of the cystacanth of O. tortuosa. Although it remains possible that the life cycle of O. tortuosa may also include intervening paratenic hosts in addition to the intermediate millipede host and the definitive opossum host (as Elkins and Nickol (1983) found was the case for another acanthocephalan that may infect millipedes, Macracanthorhynchus ingens), according to Richardson (2006) there is so far no evidence of any paratenic hosts for O. tortuosa (see general discussion of acanthocephalan life cycles under Acanthocephala). In addition to O. tortuosa, Macracanthorhynchus ingens, a common acanthocephalan parasite of the raccoon (Procyon lotor), has also been reported from N. americanus (in fact, this was the first report of an acanthocepalan from a millipede) (Crites, 1964), although cystacanths were not reared to adulthood to verify the identification or life cycle (Elkins and Nickol 1983).

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Physical Description

Type Information

Paratype for Arctobolus dolleyi Loomis, 1943
Catalog Number: USNM
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Alcohol
Collector(s): J. Dolley
Year Collected: 1937
Locality: Feamster's Lake area near tupolo; Lee Co.; Miss, Lee, Mississippi, United States
  • Paratype:
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Type for Spirobolus pensacolae Bollman
Catalog Number: USNM
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology
Preparation: Alcohol
Locality: Pensacola; Fla., Florida, United States
  • Type:
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Holotype for Spirobolus oklahomae Chamberlin, 1931
Catalog Number: USNM
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Alcohol
Collector(s): R. Bird
Year Collected: 1930
Locality: Murray Co., oklahoma, Murray, Oklahoma, United States
  • Holotype:
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Wikipedia

Narceus americanus

Narceus americanus is a large millipede of eastern North America. Common names include American giant millipede,[1] worm millipede, and iron worm.[2] It inhabits the eastern seaboard of North America west to Georgetown, Texas, north of the Ottine swamps.[3] It has a nearly cylindrical gray body, reaching a length of 4 inches (100 mm).[4] When threatened, they sometimes curl up or release a noxious liquid that contains large amounts of benzoquinones which can cause dermatological burns. This fluid may irritate eyes or skin. Many other millipedes secrete hydrogen cyanide, and while there have also been claims that N. americanus releases hydrogen cyanide, this is not true. They do however, excrete a substance that causes a temporary, non-harmful discoloration of the skin.[5]

Photos[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Tylobolus, a similar-looking genus in the Western U.S.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Millipedes (Diplopoda), Jeff's Nature Page
  2. ^ Walker, M. J., Stockman, A. K., Marek, P. E., & Bond, J. E. (2009). Pleistocene glacial refugia across the Appalachian Mountains and coastal plain in the millipede genus Narceus: evidence from population genetic, phylogeographic, and paleoclimatic data. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 925(25).
  3. ^ Stephen Welton Taber & Scott B. Fleenor (2005). "Crustaceans, millipedes, and centipedes". Invertebrates of Central Texas Wetlands. Texas Tech University Press. pp. 263–272. ISBN 978-0-89672-550-8. 
  4. ^ Jennifer Frick-Ruppert (2010). "Railroad worms and millipedes: predators and prey". Mountain Nature: a Seasonal Natural History of the Southern Appalachians. University of North Carolina Press. pp. 106–108. ISBN 978-0-8078-7116-4. 
  5. ^ J. E. Percy, J. Weatherston (1971). "Studies of physiologically active arthropod secretions. V. Histological studies of the defence mechanism of Narceus annularis (Raf.) (Diplopoda: Spirobolida)". Canadian Journal of Zoology 49 (2): 278–279. doi:10.1139/z71-040. PMID 4925896. 
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