Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.
a class of subphylum Tracheata, phylum Ar-thropoda. (According to an earlier system, Diplopoda was considered a subclass of class Myriopoda.)
The bodies of Diplopoda consist of a head and a more or less uniformly segmented trunk, most of whose segments bear two pairs of legs (whence the name), since each segment of the trunk is formed by the merging of two embryonic segments. Along the sides of the trunk segments in the majority of Diplopoda there are openings of defensive toxic glands, which secrete a pungent fluid that sometimes contains hydrocyanic acid. On the head there is a single pair of short unbranched antennae and two pairs of weak jaws. There are simple eyes or groups of simple eyes along the sides of the head. There are approximately 7,500 species, of which about 200 are found in the USSR. Diplopoda are terrestrial, but they require high humidity in the air and therefore inhabit the forest floor, the soil, rotten wood, fissures in rocks, and other shelters where the relative atmospheric humidity is approximately 100 percent. The respiratory organs are tracheas. The excretory organs include a pair of Malpighian tubules and the walls of the intestinal tract. Diplopoda feed on decaying plant remains; more rarely, they eat the succulent tissues of living plants. Diplopoda are beneficial, since they promote the mineralization and humification of the dead parts of plants and the formation of soils. Some Diplopoda (for example, the millipedes) sometimes cause damage in hothouses, vegetable gardens, and berry fields, where they may easily be destroyed by insecticides.
REFERENCESZhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 3. Edited by L. A.Zenkevich. Moscow, 1969.
Lokshina, I. E. Opredelite V dvuparnonogikh mnogonozhek Diplopoda ravninnoi chasti Evropeiskoi territorii SSSR. Moscow, 1969.
M. S. GILIAROV