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insects & other invertebrates
AFROTROPICAL Tropical & Subtropical Savanna

The insects and other invertebrates of the African tropical and subtropical savanna, dry woodlands and bush...

Phylum Arthropoda

Subphylum Myriapoda: Millipedes & Centipedes

Millipedes and Centipedes are long and obviously segmented, and most notable for having lots and lots of little legs. The main physical difference between the two groups is that millipedes appear to have two legs per segment, while centipedes have one. In terms of behaviour, millipedes are generally slower, and feed on decaying vegetation. while centipedes are usually much faster, and tend to predate on other invertebrates. The latter can have painful bites, while the former have chemical defences. Millipedes tend to roll into a defensive ball when touched; centipedes shouldn't be touched! 

Class Diplopoda: Millipedes

A biologist who specialises in millipedes is known as a diplopodologist - but don't say that to their face!

(Lake Mburo, Uganda)

Upon closer inspection, millipedes appear to have two legs per segment.

(Lake Mburo, Uganda)

When harassed (or touched by the author), they tend to curl up.

Subphylum Hexapoda: Insects & relatives

Class Insecta

Order Coleoptera, Beetles

It's a shit job, but somebody has to do it! (Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, South Africa).

Pachylomerus femoralis, 'Flattened Giant Dung Beetle' 

Order Hymenoptera

Family Formicidae: Ants

Safari Ants (image by Damon Ramsey)(Ishasha Uganda)

Dorylus spp. 'Safari Ants', 'Driver Ants'. Often form long marching lines. The larger soldiers guard the workers and allow them a protected path to follow in between them. The columns move through the bush, including settlements, although they are easy to get out of the way of. The soldiers have large heads and mandibles; their attack is not so much with their sting from the abdomen like many other ants, but is through a bit from their strong mandibles. Their grip is very strong, and can be hard to dislodge; even killing the ant may not make a difference if the mandibles are locked in. These are the ants that were infamously used as stitches in wounds for up to a few days by East Africans! They are mostly found in tropical Africa, but some species are found in tropical Asia.

To go back to the page on the African savanna

Throughout the virus I am working in Australia on and off as local borders close, mostly as Expedition Leader in the Kimberley (May-September). If you can't go travelling until everything settles down, then until then, here I am doing online guided walks for Noble Caledonia and online lectures for Silversea.