A swarm of Black Portuguese millipedes may have been the cause of a two-train collision in Western Australia. The Public Transport Authority of Western Australia discovered hundreds of the squashed insects right on the track.
David Hynes, Public Transport Authority spokesman, said the authorities were considering the possibility of the millipedes as the cause of the train crash.
Six passengers were treated after the train collision due to complaints of neck injuries. A train that just arrived at the Clarkson station which is 25 miles north of Perth crashed into a non-moving train.
Mr Hynes said that, in previous cases, trains travelling at speed encountered a millipede infestation, causing the train to lose traction, slip and crash. Crushed insects made the tracks slimy.
In 2009, thousands of millipedes caused train cancellations and delays, since the creatures overran more than a mile of train tracks.
The Black Portuguese millipede was accidentally brought to Australia in 1953 and, since then, has been considered a pest. The millipede population has flourished without the presence of natural predators. Every year, Australians see the herbivorous millipedes eat their way through vegetation including the plants in residential gardens.
Millipedes usually have long bodies measuring 20-45 mm and appear black or slate grey in colour. If millipedes were disturbed or touched, they would curl into a spiral and thrash their bodies.
Animal-related disasters can be destructive as proven by an incident in India involving elephants that took revenge on a town last August. The angry herd of elephants stormed villages in Chanbad and smashed anything in their path.
A week before the stampede, an express train hit one of the elephants in the herd near the Matari railway station and was instantly killed. The rest of the elephant herd seemed to form a vigil around the dead elephant and mourned its death. This caused train delays and authorities had to be called in to clear the area.