Millipedes belong to Diplopoda, and are commonly encoun-tered in the countryside, especially during monsoon (Fig 12.53). They vary from a few centimeters to several centimeters in length, and have even more legs than centipedes (but not one thousand!).* Millipedes have two pairs of legs per segment and move slowly (in contrast to the centipedes which have one pair of legs per segment, but move quite fast) . Also, millipedes have a cylindrical body, while centipedes are usually flattened.
Millipedes do not bite, and are not venomous, but have a glandular system that produces a foul-smelling, disagreeable fluid containing phenols and hydrocyanic acid. Some millipedes secrete or squirt these irritant liquids for defensive purposes, which can cause brown or purple skin lesions that blister after a few days and then peel. Sometimes these lesions take a long time to heal. Contact with the eye can result in severe conjunc-tivitis, corneal ulceration, and even blindness.
Treatment involves copious irrigation with water, and appli-cation of a topical anti-microbial agent. Eye injury necessitates expert ophthalmologic evaluation and treatment.