A reader wrote to us through the All About Worms Facebook page about something that “looks like an earthworm but it has feelers.” By “feelers,” we presume the reader means antennae, and the picture the reader sent along with her question does in fact show a skinny, worm-like creature with what appear to be antennae. Earthworms do not have antennae, as the reader indirectly implies, so we think she might have actually found some type of millipede for reasons we will now outline.
First, here is the picture the reader sent to us:
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For the record, the creature is being held in someone’s hand, which is kind of hard to tell since we zeroed in on the millipede, assuming this is what it is.
We should perhaps begin by saying that this assumption is definitely false if the creature pictured above doesn’t have tons of legs. (More precisely, two legs per body segment, except for the first three, which have one pair per segment.) Unfortunately, we are unable to tell if the creature has legs, but if it is a millipede, this isn’t particularly surprising because millipede legs are hard to see. Unlike centipedes, the legs of millipedes are generally small and don’t extend very far from their bodies, and sometimes you can’t see their legs at all if you are looking at the creature from more or less an aerial view. If you look really closely at the picture, it kind of looks like there might be some tiny appendages that are visible up near the creature’s head, but it’s impossible to say.
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Even without being able to confirm this crucial fact, we still think the “millipede” suggestion is the most promising, which we say for the simple reason that we aren’t really sure what else the creature above could be, given its long, skinny body and antennae. A wide range of different arthropods have antennae, but they don’t have an elongated body like the creature in the above picture. Millipedes are also quite common, and of course it is more likely that our reader found something common than uncommon.
Having said all that, our reader is really in a better position to determine what she found than us (at least at this point) because she is the only one who knows if the creature has tons of small legs. If it does, it is a millipede. If it doesn’t, it isn’t a millipede, and then we are a bit perplexed and would have to start researching more obscure possibilities. If for whatever reason she can’t recall whether the creature had legs, she can also check out our recent article on centipedes and millipedes, which provides more information about millipedes than we are able to offer here, and perhaps one of these additional facts will allow her to confirm or reject our tentative identification.