Millipedes

Millipedes

One might be confused with centipedes and millipedes, after all, they’re from the same family of Myriapoda.  While centipedes are known for their lightning quick movements millipedes are slow moving; centipedes have only one pair of legs per segment, while a millipede has two pairs.  

There are around 15,000 species of millipedes, a thousand of them can be found in the United States.  They are brown in color with segmented body parts; two pairs of legs per segment. They can be just 1/16th inch long up to 12 inches.  Contrary to popular belief, they do not have 1,000 legs. Most millipedes have legs that number to less than a hundred. When hunted down their predators, they coil their bodies into a spiral to protect themselves since they cannot move fast.

Another way the millipedes protect themselves is through emitting certain chemicals.  They do not sting, but they have ozopores that emit foul -smelling and bad tasting compounds that deter predators from eating them.  Some millipedes produce chemicals that can burn skin, so it is best to wash hands if you get into contact with them.

Millipede habitat

Millipedes can be found across all continents except for Antarctica.  They live on leaf litter, dead wood, or soil. They prefer humid conditions and are typically forest floor dwellers.  Other habitats include deserts, caves; while a few can live near seashores.

During the fall, millipedes tend to migrate and in which time we find them inside our home.  When inside our homes, they usually inhabit basements and front porches.

Diet

Millipedes can be called scavengers.  Millipedes eat decomposing vegetation, feces, and dead wood.  Some millipedes are herbivores, feeding on living plants. A few species are carnivorous, feeding on insects, centipedes, and earthworms.

Millipedes as pests

In general, millipedes can be helpful to the environment.  They are predators to many pests. They do not bite, they do not sting, and they do not transmit diseases.  They also leave our food alone. The only reason we do not want them in our house is that they can be such a nuisance.  After all, it is hard to imagine sharing your homes with these millipedes. Those millipedes commonly found in houses are normally ¼ inch to 1 inch long.  They are nocturnal creatures.

How did we get these millipedes?

They move during the fall in search of humid places.  Migration into buildings and houses occur in the summer and winter too.

Control and Prevention

If you do not want millipedes in your homes, here are a few tips to avoid infestation:

  • Minimize damp areas – Minimizing moisture and making your homes drier is a very effective way to avoid millipede infestation.  Repair leaking faucets and pipes.
  • Remove debris that can be used as their hiding places – Remove leaves, grass, mulch, stones, boxes and other similar items which they can use as hiding places.  
  • Seal cracks and openingJust like with any other pests, these are possible entry points for millipedes.
  • Use vacuum and broomIf you see millipedes crawling around, simply use your vacuum cleaner or sweep them off the floor with a broom.  

There you have it.  Follow these steps and you will avoid not only millipedes but also other pests as well.