Common Millipede Species: Apheloria virginiensis

The Apheloria virginiensis is a millipede that is sometimes called the black and gold flat millipede. These millipedes secrete a cyanide substance that can cause skin or eye irritation, so avoid disturbing them.


This millipede is distinguished by its flattened look and black body with orange and yellow highlights.

Key physical characteristics of the black and gold flat millipede include:

  • Black or dark brown exoskeleton with red, orange or yellow on the edges
  • Yellow legs
  • Grows up to 2 inches long
  • Medium-sized antennae
  • Slow-moving
  • Curls up when threatened
  • May release a cyanide compound, which can cause skin irritation, as a defensive action – It is not advised to handle this millipede


This millipede is common in forest leaf litter. In a suburban setting, expect to see it in mulch areas, leaf piles and other areas that accumulate debris.


This millipede is common in forest areas in much of the eastern U.S. and Canada.


Apheloria virginiensis is a detritivore. As such, it feeds on dead or decomposing matter. It consumes the following items:

  • Moist wood
  • Sticks
  • Fallen leaves
  • Mulch
  • Decomposing animal matter
  • Small insects
  • Feces


The Apheloria virginiensis can exude a cyanide-based secretion, which can create adverse reactions in humans and animals. It’s best not to pick one up, but if you do, wash your hands after handling it. Avoid touching your eyes after coming into contact with this millipede.

Aside from this secretion, black and gold flat millipedes are not considered to be a threat to people or pets. It is not considered destructive to properties or plant life.

If one of these millipedes ventures inside a building, it should be removed or eradicated to avoid future accidental contact.

Control Options

The Apheloria virginiensis is generally a forest dweller, but for homes and outbuildings that border these areas, it may occasionally make its way inside. Here are some ideas to control this millipede:

Outside – Try TERRO® Ant Killer Plus , a granular insect control option, to prevent them from entering a structure.

Inside or outside – Apply TERRO® Ant Dust to cracks and crevices where millipedes may hide. Alternatively, pour uniformly around the outside of a structure to create an entry barrier.

Non-toxic – Another easy way to stop invading millipedes (and other insects) is with the TERRO® Spider & Insect Traps. When a bug crawls over its sticky surface, it’s instantly trapped.