What are the little brown worms curled up in our basement?

Question: What are the little brown worms in our basement that curl up and get crunchy when dead? We live in south central Iowa and have had these worms in our basement practically year-round. Is there a way to get rid of them?

Answer: Probably what you have is the common millipede (Class: Diplopoda). They are characterized by the numerous legs on each side of the body, thus the name ''thousand legger.'' These animals are common household invaders, especially from spring to fall.

They live outdoors in moist and decaying organic material (dead leaves, flower garden mulch, even the thatch layer in turfgrass), and usually go unnoticed at these locations. Sometimes millipede populations increase rapidly, or their environment gets too wet, and they start to migrate to get away from these conditions. They usually move to the sides of houses (where it may be warmer and drier). They sometimes come inside under door thresholds and around windows at ground level.

The best control is to remove as much of the moist mulch around doors and away from the foundation as possible (make a 6" to 12" gap between mulch and house). This reduces their breeding sites and the favorable areas for them. Make certain the door thresholds are well sealed. These animals don't reproduce in houses; in fact they die soon after they enter because the environment is too dry for them.

For help with this pest, you can contact your local Orkin Branch Office . A highly trained Orkin Pest Specialist will inspect your home inside and outside, and after assessing the situation a customized treatment backed by science will be developed to meet your needs.

For more information you can visit millipedes to learn about this common invader.

Related Questions

Orkin used the information above to also answer the following questions submitted by Orkin.com users:

Question: I have some bugs that look like worms that are about 1/2 inch long. I just wanted to know, what are they?

Question: I recently moved in to the basement of a friend's house (the house is around 30 years old). However, prior to the move, I had discovered these gray wormlike bugs, curled up like a coil, dead, all along the baseboards/trim on the floor. They are grayish/silverish in color, about the width of a toothpick, maybe half an inch in length. I vacuumed them up and figured they should be all dead. Unfortunately, this morning I found one alive "crawling" on the floor. It moved like a centipede, not sure if it had legs or not, but it didn't appear to move like a worm. When killed, it excreted a bright yellow substance. This is the first one I've found alive ... do you know what this is? How can it be treated? What should I do to get rid of them? Thank you.

Question: We have one-inch-long, black, wormlike bugs found primarily on the kitchen floor. What could it be? Where would it come from? What products do you recommend?

Question: I am wondering about millipedes, if what I see occasionally are in fact millipedes. Do they look for dampness or dryness? I've seen a couple in the last two weeks.

Question: I had discovered these gray wormlike bugs curled up like a coil. What should I do to get rid of them?

Question: We have thousands of inch-long worms on the east side of our garage. Contractor said it was on a worm bed. The worms have a hard shell; gas does not kill them. They are black, and I don't know if they turn into another insect.

Question: My family is currently in Jamaica during August. We have brown worms with tons of legs crawling up the walls and trying to nest in corners. What are these worms called? How do I get rid of them?

Answer: It sounds like you are seeing millipedes or centipedes since they have many legs on each side of their body and they are often seen indoors during the spring to fall months. More than likely they are coming inside through cracks and gaps to either escape the hot weather or else to get out of the natural outdoor habitats that are too wet for them. They often come inside under door thresholds and around windows at ground level as they migrate in the fall.

While you might be able to resolve this problem by using a vacuum to remove the millipedes indoors, it would also be helpful to call us and request a home inspection. Your local Orkin technician will create a customized pest management plan based in science that meets your particular situation.

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