Orthoperus ornathus

Desert millipede

Petey Mesquitey



Desert Millipede Facts Made Clear


The Desert Millipede does not have one thousand legs.

And it’s said, that the female of the species, does not take care of its eggs.

Does the Better Bugness Bureau know these disturbing facts?

False advertising and parental abuse; maybe someone should ask.

Or maybe we can get the facts straight. The truth is what we need,

Before we indict the Sonoran Desert Millipede.


Millipedes like to hide in dark places during most of the day,

And when it’s moist in the night they like to come out and play.

They eat detritus, so they can be called detritivores.

Wow! Eating decayed sticks and leaves doesn’t give their mouths sores.


And female millipedes that leave eggs buried in the earth?

They’re too busy to hang around and pretend they gave birth.

Oh, and those one thousand legs, I mean, what about that?

Only five or six hundred, my friends, and that is a fact.

Two pairs of legs per segment are found on this cool arthropod,

And they move like a wave on that brown segmented bod.


There is one question that has given entomologists a great deal of doubt.

Can millipedes do the hokey pokey? And is that what’s it’s all about?

But hey, I know the answer, ‘cause in a book store I made a rare find,

It was the millipede songbook and the first page was signed!

And listen, on page 33 it was written quite clearly,

And if you don’t mind, I’d like to sing it, ‘cause I love this song dearly.


We put our right feet in, we put our right feet out

We put our right feet in, and we wave them all about

We do the hokey pokey and we turn ourselves around

That’s what we’re all about


We like to sleep all day and then we go out at night

We like to sleep all day and then we steps out for a bite

We eat some rotting stuff until we’ve had enough

            and that’s what we’re all about


We put the detritus in, we put the detritus out

We put the detritus in and we shake it all about

We find detritus and chew it, ‘cause someone has to do it

And that’s what we’re all about.


Our name is Orthoporus ornatus and we’re an arthropod

We hide in the desert and we really like our job

We’re the desert millipede, got everything we need

And that’s what we’re all about


We do the Hokey Pokey. We do the Hokey Pokey

We’re the desert millipede, got everything we need

And that’s what we’re all about!!!




Petey Mesquitey is a horticulturist living in rural southeastern Arizona on a small farm where he grows regional native plants to sell at farmers' markets. Sometimes, it is said, he makes money. For 20 years he has had a 5 minute radio show airing on KXCI Community Radio in Tucson. The program "Growing Native" celebrates the flora and fauna that Petey encounters in the wild borderlands of Arizona.