Flora & Fauna

I Smell Cyanide!

Harpaphe haydeniana

Harpaphe haydeniana (Photo credit: Franco Folini)

The fantastic yellow-spotted millipedeHarpaphe haydeniana, roams freely through the coast redwood forest. Often found crawling in the duff on the forest floor, H. Haydeniana is multi-legged invertebrate that demands respect.

When it senses danger, this millepede curls up in a ball and releases the sweet almond scent of hydrogen cyanide. It’s a deadly chemical deterrent and is one to watch out for, especially if you are a beetle hoping to catch a quick meal. For people, the threat is pretty low. That said, I still don’t want to make it angry!

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