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Velvet Worms: Onychophora

No Common Name (epiperipatus Biolleyi): Species Account

Physical characteristics: Epiperipatus biolleyi adults measure up to 1.5 to 2 inches (38 to 52 millimeters) in length and are rusty brown or pinkish with dark papillae and a stripe along the back. Antennae and legs are gray. Females have 30 pairs of legs, while males have 26 to 28.

Geographic range: They are found in Costa Rica.

Habitat: Epiperipatus biolleyi (abbreviated as E. biolleyi) live in low mountain forests inside rotting logs or in natural cavities in the soil.

Diet: Nothing is known about their diet in the wild.

Behavior and reproduction: E. biolleyi avoid light and walk at speeds up to 0.4 inches (10 millimeters) per second. Individuals found in the wild often carry scars and missing legs.

Velvet worms eat mainly insects, spiders, other arthropods, and snails (Illustration by Dan Erickson. Reproduced by permission.)

Sperm packets are deposited directly into the reproductive opening. They are viviparous.

Epiperipatus biolleyi and people: E. biolleyi are not known to impact people or their activities.

Conservation status: This species is not considered endangered or threatened. ∎



Tavolacci, J., ed. Insects and Spiders of the World. Volume 9, Stonefly-Velvet Worm. Velvet Worm. New York: Marshal Cavendish, 2003.


Ghiselin, M. T. "A Moveable Feaster." Natural History 94, no. 9 (September 1985): 54-60.

Mendez, R. "Keeping a Missing Link—The Velvet Worm." 1997 Invertebrates in Captivity Proceedings, 72-74.

Monge-Nágera, J., and J. P. Alfaro. "Geographic Variation of Habitats in Costa Rican Velvet Worms (Onychophora: Peripatidae)." Biogeographica 71, no. 3 (1995): 97-108.

New, T. R. "Onychophora in Invertebrate Conservation: Priorities, Practice and Prospects." Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 114, no. 1 (1995): 77-89.

New, T. R. "Velvet Worms: Charismatic Invertebrates for Conservation." Wings 27, no. 2 (Fall 2004): 12-15.

Sunnucks, P., and N. Tait. "Tales of the Unexpected." Nature Australia 27, no. 1 (2001): 60-69.

Web sites:

Introduction to the Onychophora. http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/onychoph/onychophora.html (accessed on January 18, 2005).

The Onychophora. http://www.mnhn.fr/assoc/myriapoda/ONYCHO.HTM (accessed on January 18, 2005).

Onychophora Homepage. http://www.sciref.org/onychophora/ (accessed on January 18, 2005).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMollusks, Crustaceans, and Related SpeciesVelvet Worms: Onychophora - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, No Common Name (epiperipatus Biolleyi): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, VELVET WORMS AND PEOPLE