Millipedes are arthropods (not insects) that are commonly found in damp, moist locations. They feed on decaying organic matter. Millipedes will usually hide during the day and come out at night when the humidity is higher and dew is present on the ground. Millipedes are often mistaken for centipedes – they have elongated, worm-like bodies with 2 pairs of legs on each segment of their bodies. They are usually about 1 inch long with a hard, round, cylindrical body that is brown to black in color. When they are disturbed or dead they will curl into a spiral.
Finding a millipede in the house is not common. They cannot reproduce indoors and usually only come inside when there is a period of extreme wetness (during the rainy season) or in search of somewhere to overwinter (usually in late Fall). Millipedes are most commonly found in gardens but when they do come indoors they are usually found in the garage, basement, or the lowest level of the home. Millipedes that wander indoors typically die in a short amount of time because of the dryness.
If a millipede does get into your home, are they helpful or harmful? Should you be concerned? Millipedes are NOT harmful to humans. They do not feed on buildings, structures, or furnishings. They also cannot bite or sting. In fact, they can be beneficial in your compost pile as they help to break down the contents. They can cause damage to your garden by destroying seedlings or feeding on vegetables; however, there is no need to eliminate them unless they are causing damage to your plants.
While a millipede infestation is rare, there are things you can do to help prevent these pests from getting into your garden or home. Here are some tips on how to get rid of millipedes:
- Eliminate moisture in garden areas where millipedes are often found or where their eggs can overwinter.
- Rake out any old mulch under plants and replace it with either fresh mulch or straw.
- Put piles of raked leaves into the compost pile away from your home or bag them for disposal.
- Aerate your lawn to reduce thatch.
- Move anything that could provide a habitat for millipedes away from your home (compost piles, firewood, stones).
- Elevate any of these items that cannot be moved.
- Install a band of gravel between foundations and flower beds.
- Seal any cracks in the outside foundation.
- Seal around the bottoms of doors and basement windows.
- Use a dehumidifier to decrease the humidity in your home.
- Water lawns in the morning so they can dry out by afternoon.
- Contact a licensed pest control company who can inspect your home for entry points and help set up a comprehensive treatment and prevention plan.
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Millipedes, also known as “thousand leggers,” are arthropods that often make their way into our homes. Millipedes range from 2.5 to 4 cm long, are brownish in color, are long and slender, and look a lot like worms with legs. They are segmented with 2 pairs of legs per segment. Millipedes are nocturnal and tend to move in large numbers. They are also scavengers, feeding on decaying plant material in and around your home. While they are definitely creepy looking, they don’t bite or cause any damage to your home or food supplies.
Millipedes are often found outdoors in damp places such as mulch, flowerbeds, under leaves, compost, rotting wood, and under stones in your yard. They are also commonly found around foundations. Excess rain, drought, and cooler temperatures can make their outdoor habitats less favorable for them and you will often see millipedes in the house during these conditions. Excess rain will drive them indoors in search of shelter and drought will drive them indoors in search of water. Once in your home, they tend to gravitate toward damp areas such as laundry rooms, basements, and crawlspaces. Millipedes will usually die fairly quickly once they get inside due to the lack of moisture. If you’re wondering how to get rid of millipedes indoors, you can simply remove them with a vacuum cleaner or shop-vac.
How can you prevent a millipede infestation from taking over your home? Here are a few tips to prevent millipedes in the house.
- Seal any cracks and crevices in your home’s foundation, around wiring and around plumbing where millipedes can enter.
- Seal the expansion joints where patios, sunrooms, and sidewalks are next to your foundation and also along the walls of your basement.
- Repair any leaks you find in the home, including leaky faucets, water pipes, and air conditioning units.
- Use a dehumidifier to keep the air dry in your home and use fans in rooms that don’t have good airflow.
- Reduce humidity in your home by enclosing your crawlspace by providing adequate ventilation in your basement.
- Clean out and remove debris from gutters or consider installing gutter guards to prevent clogs. Make sure gutters, downspouts, and splash blocks are properly functioning and diverting water away from foundation walls.
- Keep your yard clean by removing dead plant matter, piles of leaves or mulch, grass clippings, rotting wood, and woodpiles, especially those that are directly against your foundation walls.
- Practice good lawn care by keeping your grass mowed short and de-thatching your lawn.
- Avoid overwatering your lawn and try to water in the morning versus at night so the grass has time to dry out before nightfall. Adjust your sprinkler system to minimize water pooling up on your lawn.
- Take preventative pest-proofing measures in your home by adding thresholds and weatherstripping around doors and windows and caulking or sealing any other openings to keep pests out.
- Call a professional pest control company who can thoroughly inspect your home for potential entry points and help you with a treatment and prevention plan to keep these pests out.
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Summer and rain usually mean humidity and a potentially bad hair day, but it may also come with some creepy crawlies. Rain tends to flood pests out of their hiding spaces outside, and they will seek refuge in places within your home that still have high moisture (a huge necessity for their survival). One of the pests that heavily relies on an abundance of moisture is the millipede.
Here are some facts about this many-legged pest and some tips to keep them out:
You may be wondering what options you have to help keep your home free of these tiny crawlers. The most effective method is investing in Green Pest Control, which can help with a variety of pests the rain and summer may bring, including millipedes. You can also prevent millipedes and other pests by installing Leafproof Gutter Guard, which keeps your gutters clean of debris, allowing for proper drainage and keeping pests away from your home.
If you have a millipede infestation or general pest questions, contact your local pest control company or fill out the form below to request a free pest inspection.