While often mistaken for each other, millipedes and centipedes are distinctly different pests. Although commonly referred to as insects, they are actually not – in fact, they are more closely related to lobsters and shrimp. Centipedes have bodies composed of many segments with one pair of legs on each segment. These long legs extend from the sides of their bodies and trail backwards behind them, making them very visible. Millipedes, on the other hand, are the opposite. These arthropods have only 1 pair of legs on their first 3 body segments but then two pairs of legs for each body segment after those. Their legs are shorter and do not trail behind their bodies like centipedes do.
Both of these land dwelling creatures prefer moist environments with high humidity. Most are nocturnal, as well. While neither carry diseases that can harm humans or pets, they can be a nuisance when they make their way into your home. Centipedes can bite, although this is rare. They do have poison glands and can cause skin irritation when a bite occurs. Millipedes feed on stems and leaves and can cause damage to gardens. They can also leave a stain if crushed. Both species can be a nuisance when they invade your home in large numbers.
Although there is no set season for millipedes and centipedes, they do come out in large numbers twice per year: in the spring when they lay eggs and in the fall when they prepare to overwinter.
Preventing centipedes and millipedes can be accomplished with these tips:
- Remove their hiding places. Get rid of any trash or debris piles, rocks, boards, and leaf or compost piles that can hide them.
- Seal them out. Make sure windows and doors seal tightly and cracks and crevices are caulked.
- Get rid of water. Repair any leaks and remove standing water from around your home. Remove any moisture-holding ground cover and organic material that is close to your home’s foundation. Moisture is necessary for the survival of both of these species.
- Call the pros. If you have a problem with centipedes, millipedes, or any other household pests, contact your local pest control company for a customized treatment and prevention plan.
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Millipedes are common household pests that are brownish-black in color and that can grow to about an inch in length. Also known as “thousand-leggers,” these pests don’t actually have 1000 legs. They do, however, have 2 pairs of very short legs on each segment of their body. They are often confused with centipedes which only have 1 pair of legs per body segment. Millipedes crawl slowly and will curl into a “c” shape and remain motionless when they are disturbed. They can also secrete an unpleasant smelling odor.
Millipedes overwinter as adults and lay their eggs in the spring. They can live for several years. They are scavengers, eating primarily decomposing vegetation. They are attracted to cool, dark, moist environments (like compost piles, flower beds, mulch, rotting logs, and under rocks and logs). When the weather is hot and dry or there is an overabundance of water, they will emerge and make their way into your home in search of moisture or shelter. They can infest in large numbers but they don’t bite, sting, transmit diseases, infest food, clothing, or even dry wood.
Millipedes will come indoors for a variety of reasons. When the weather is hot and dry, they will invade your home in search of moisture. When conditions are extremely wet they will be forced to higher ground (e.g. concrete slabs, foundations, and siding). In the fall they migrate in search of places to overwinter. In these conditions, they will make their way into your home through door thresholds (especially garage and sliding glass doors), through expansion joints, and through voids in concrete block walls. Millipedes cannot survive indoors more than a day or two.
Now that you know more about millipedes and what attracts them to your home, what can you do to keep them from infesting your personal space?
- Get rid of debris. Get rid of any leaves, grass clippings, heavy layers of mulch, wooden boards, boxes, stones, etc. that may be laying on the ground near your foundation. Keep mulch cover light and at least 6 to 12 inches away from foundations. Use inorganic mulch if possible.
- Eliminate moisture. Keep water from accumulating near foundations, inside basement walls, and in crawlspaces. Keep gutters and downspouts clear of debris. Use splashguards to reduce puddling. Consider installing gutter guards to prevent clogs. Repair leaking spigots outside. Prevent puddling near AC drip lines. Dehumidify your crawlspace and basements with dehumidifiers, adequate ventilation, and sump pumps. Consider enclosing your crawlspace for additional protection.
- Lawn care. Aerate your lawn to dethatch and make the soil less attractive to millipedes. Keep grass mowed close. Avoid overwatering the lawn and set sprinklers up on an appropriate schedule.
- Seal entry points. Eliminating entry points is the best way to keep millipedes from sneaking in. Seal cracks and openings in foundation walls and around door and windowsills. Install door sweeps on all exterior doors. Apply caulk on the bottom outside edge and side of door thresholds. Seal expansion joints where patios, sunrooms and sidewalks touch foundations and along the bottom of basement walls.
Chemical treatments indoors are usually not very effective against millipedes. If you have them inside just sweep or vacuum them up and dispose of them. Chemical treatments outdoors can help keep them from crossing the threshold inside. If you have a problem with millipedes, consider calling a professional pest control company for an evaluation and treatment plan.
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Although they are often confused with each other, millipedes and centipedes are two completely different pests. While both are classified as arthropods, the similarities end there. Which one is more dangerous to humans – millipede vs centipede?
Centipedes have bodies composed of many segments with one pair of legs on each segment. These long legs extend from the sides of their bodies and trail backwards behind them, making them very visible. These legs enable centipedes to move very quickly. They also have long antenna. Centipedes do have the capability to bite and are classified as predators, killing and eating their prey.
Millipedes, on the other hand, are the opposite. These arthropods have only 1 pair of legs on their first 3 body segments but then two pairs of legs for each body segment after those. Their legs are shorter and do not trail behind their bodies like centipedes do. These shorter legs make millipedes move much slower than their long-legged counterparts. Millipedes are also unable to bite. They are scavengers and do not kill prey to feed.
So which one is more dangerous? When millipedes are disturbed they will curl into a tight ball similar to a pill bug or “roly poly.” Since they are unable to bite, they emit a foul-smelling fluid that can cause irritation to the skin and eyes of humans if handled. Centipedes, on the other hand, will bite humans on occasion if they are disturbed. A centipede bite is similar to that of a bee sting, leaving behind a red bump that can swell, itch or sting. Despite these defensive mechanisms, neither millipedes nor centipedes are considered dangerous to humans or pets. Neither of these pests are known to transmit diseases or contaminate food, furniture, or plants either.
Although they aren’t considered harmful to humans, we still tend to be a little leery of their presence. You can prevent millipedes and centipedes by:
- Repairing any leaks and removing standing water from around your home. Remove any moisture-holding ground cover and organic material that is close to your home’s foundation. Moisture is necessary for the survival of both of these species.
- Store firewood away from the house and elevated off the ground. Inspect it for any pests prior to bringing it into your home.
- Seal any doors or windows that are low to the ground to help prevent easy entry into your home.
If you have a problem with millipedes or centipedes, contact your local pest control company who can help identify which of these pests you have, as well as help identify how they are getting into your home and the best method to eliminate them and prevent them from returning.
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Millipedes are common pests that can be found just about anywhere in the United States. Most of the time they can be found outside under leaves, mulch, compost, and rocks, although occasionally they will come indoors – in search of water during droughts or in search of shelter after heavy rains. They can usually be found infesting basements, garages, and crawlspaces. If you find a millipede in your home, there’s a good chance they are breeding somewhere on your lawn.
Millipedes are decomposers with their diet primarily consisting of damp, decaying plant material. Because of this, they are quite beneficial to have in your garden. Millipedes are harmless to humans but they can become a nuisance if they are present in large numbers. Prevention is the best start to millipede control. Keep millipedes away from your home with these millipede prevention tips.
Get Rid Of Moisture
What attracts millipedes is moisture, especially in crawlspaces and around foundations. Keep gutters clear and in good repair. Consider installing gutter guards to help prevent clogs. Make sure downspouts are pointed away from foundations and use splash blocks to keep water away from foundation walls. Consider installing tiles or drains or sloping the ground so water drains away from foundations. Repair any leaky pipes, appliances, or faucets. Reduce the humidity in your crawlspace and basement with dehumidifiers, sump pumps, or soil covers.
Get Rid Of Attractants
If there is nowhere for millipedes to breed or hide, they can’t get into your home. Keep millipedes out by removing mulch, leaves, grass clippings, boards, woodpiles, rocks, boxes, etc. from your yard, especially if they are near foundations. If you are unable to remove them completely, try to elevate them off the ground. Try not to overmulch your flowerbeds.
Keep Your Lawn Maintained
Millipedes thrive in the moist layer of thatch that can accumulate on lawns. Keep your grass mowed short and dethatch the lawn as this will make it less appealing to millipedes. Try not to overwater your lawn. Don’t water at night since there is no sun to help evaporate the moisture.
Seal Your Home
Millipedes can get into your home through cracks in the exterior. Seal any cracks or openings in the outside foundation. Use thresholds or door sweeps on all exterior doors. Caulk the outer edges of the thresholds. Seal any expansion joints where sunrooms, patios, and sidewalks are next to foundations. Seal any expansion joints or gaps at the bottom of basement walls.
Millipedes can only survive for a few days once they get inside your home. The conditions indoors are too dry for them to be able to live long periods of time. The infestation will be short lived and eventually they will die off. Once this happens, you can sweep them up with a broom or vacuum them up.
Contact The Pros
While millipedes don’t cause damage to homes and aren’t harmful to humans, they can become quite a nuisance when they infest in large numbers. If you have a problem with millipedes or any other pests, contact a professional pest control company who can provide you with the most up-to-date prevention and treatment techniques.
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Millipedes are long, wormlike animals that are also referred to as worms, wireworms, and armyworms. While often mistaken for centipedes, millipedes are smaller (1 to 1-1/4 inches in length) with dark brown coloring and shiny, hard shells. They have long cylindrical bodies and have a habit of curling into a ball when they are disturbed. While the name millipede might imply they have thousands of legs, in reality they typically have 4 legs per body segment and at least 60 legs total, although some species can have up to 160 legs. Millipedes are harmless to humans as they cannot sting or bite. They also do not feed on plants or wooden structures. What they do feed on is decaying plant material and prefer damp, moist environments where they thrive. They are often found under leaves, plant debris, mulch, pine needles and other similar habitats.
While there is no set millipede season, they do go on mass migrations twice per year – once in the spring and once in the fall. These usually occur on warm, humid nights where they will emerge by the hundreds. Millipedes are outdoor pests so finding them inside your home means they have wandered in by mistake. In fact, millipedes cannot reproduce indoors. When these pests do make their way indoors, they are often found in garages and basements. Millipedes are nocturnal when they wander out of their hiding places roaming aimlessly. They eventually crawl back into holes or cracks (oftentimes in our homes) to escape the dryness of the impending daytime. They can often be found hiding under the edge of the garage door, in cracks along the exterior of your home, in sidewalk or driveway cracks, and in the gaps of your foundation.
Although millipedes are harmless, they can become a nuisance when they make their way into your home en masse. While there is no definitive millipede control method, the best practice is to try and keep them outdoors as best as possible. Because they often wander in through cracks and gaps, make sure these and other entry points around doors, windows, and foundations are sealed. They feed on organic material so keeping mulch, pine needles, and dead leaves away from your home will also help. Ensure gutters are not clogged and downspouts are angled away from foundations as this dampness will attract them in droves. Using insecticides on millipedes indoors is usually considered unnecessary as they will die in a short period of time due to lack of moisture. The best option to get rid of them indoors is to sweep or vacuum them up and discard them. Once the cold weather hits, they will become dormant… at least until springtime rolls around again!
If you have a problem with millipedes or any other household pests, contact your local pest control company for a free analysis.
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