We're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature post!

We're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature post!

We're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature post! The following post was originally published on April 9, 2020.

Narceus americanus, also known as the American giant millipede or "iron worm," is the biggest millipede you're liable to find on the east coast. These guys can grow up to four inches long! In a previous post, we talked about how many millipedes can release hydrogen cyanide as a chemical defense when they feel threatened. Narceus americanus doesn't release cyanide, but it can release benzoquinones, which are irritating chemicals that smell a bit like chlorine or bleach. You have nothing to fear from the iron worm, however, and it provides a beneficial service. Millipedes eat vast amounts of decaying leaves and help break down leaf litter into nutrient-rich soil. Narceus americanus, being both large and relatively common, breaks down a whole lot of leaf litter. The next time you're strolling through the woods, tip your hat to the helpful iron worm!

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends.

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

map of Virginia and surrounding areas

Please Visit Us Soon


Tuesday - Saturday: 10am - 4pm
Sunday - Monday: Closed


$10 for ages 18-59
$5 for ages 3-17, seniors 60+, and college students
FREE for children under 3, museum members, and members of ASTC participating institutions

My 4 year old son loves going to the museum. The exhibits are educational, interactive and kid-friendly.

Beth Deathrage

Hear More  arrow