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Collision-causing millipedes will eventually abate

By Written By Geoff Vivian for ScienceNetwork WA

A recent low-speed train collision in Perth attributed to Portuguese millipedes (Ommatoiulis moreleti) on the tracks is a symptom of growing millipede numbers in Western Australia.

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An invertebrate ecologist says a recent low-speed train collision in Perth attributed to Portuguese millipedes (Ommatoiulis moreleti) on the tracks is a symptom of growing millipede numbers in Western Australia.

Dr Geoff Baker says we can expect to see more millipedes in Perth and the South West, similar to the 1970s South Australian experience.

“It was invading houses in huge numbers and creating a hell of a nuisance problem to people,” he says.

“When the autumn rains come and the season breaks the millipedes get really active, they’re about to breed, and they are wandering everywhere.

“Then in spring there’s a minor surge of activity.”

He says their populations increase for several years after entering a new area, eventually resulting in plagues of the tiny invertebrates entering homes and causing trains to slip on their tracks.

After these plagues most individuals die, leaving a smaller, more stable population.

“If we are patient it will get better,” Dr Baker says.

“There’s a wave of abundance that comes through about ten years after they first establish in an area and they spread themselves by their own pace … only about 100 – 200 metres a year.

“Then they boom up in numbers and then they bust.

“They never go away but they settle down to a lower abundance.

He says the species was first...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.