Millipedes

Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Class Diplopoda

Appearance

What Do They Look Like?

millipedes image
  • Size: 2.5 to 4 cm  long
  • Color: Common North American species are brownish in color.
  • Body & Legs: Long and slender, millipedes look like worms with legs. They are segmented, with two pair of legs per segment.

How Did I Get Millipedes?

They usually dwell in damp areas outdoors but can migrate inside if their habitat outdoors becomes too hot and dry. Once inside, they may hide under furniture or boxes of stored items.

Entry
When they come to a home, millipedes gather on porches and patios. They climb the foundation of the home and they often find entryways such as:

  • Basement doors and windows
  • Crawlspace vents
  • Doors with missing weather stripping
  • Garage doors

How Serious Are Millipedes?

Are They Dangerous?
Millipedes do not bite or sting, nor do they do any damage to stored food, structures, or furniture. However, there are some species of millipedes that excrete a defensive fluid that irritates the skin of people who handle them or otherwise come into contact with those toxic millipede species.

Since the pests are most active at night, their appearance can scare homeowners moving boxes or other items. Millipedes also move in large numbers, so they can become a major nuisance and cause quite a fright to unsuspecting people or pets. But, since millipedes feed on and thus decompose organic matter, they are actually very beneficial to the environment.

Signs of an Infestation

Other than the sightings of the millipedes, there aren’t many distinct signs of their presence.

How Do I Get Rid of Millipedes?

In an emergency, a vacuum cleaner or a shop-type vacuum can be used to remove millipedes from walls and floors. When the situation gets bad, many homeowners call for help.

What Orkin Does
The Orkin Man™ is trained to manage millipedes. Using Orkin’s exclusive system of Assess, Implement, and Monitor (A.I.M.), he can design a solution for your home’s unique situation.

  • Inspection – Millipede treatment usually begins with an inspection by your pest management professional to locate the source how the pests are getting inside the home. Once the inspection is completed, your technician will prepare a plan that may involve both non-chemical and chemical treatment methods.
  • Prevention – Non-chemical components of the plan will emphasize preventing the pests from getting inside the home and reducing suitable habitats. Some specific actions include sealing around doors, windows, cracks, gaps, and crevices, plus reducing moist places that promote millipede survival. For example, the plan may recommend limiting the amount of mulch, rocks, or debris that are likely to create moist areas favoring large numbers of millipedes.
  • Removal – If chemical products are the most effective and efficient approach, your plan might include exterior and interior applications of products to potential entry points and harborage sites where millipedes accumulate.

For more information or to schedule an inspection, please contact your local Orkin branch office.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Where Do They Live?
Millipedes normally live outdoors in damp places. Around homes they live in flowerbeds and gardens. People often find millipedes under:

  • Mulch
  • Piles of dead leaves and grass clippings
  • Structures like dog houses and storage sheds

Crawlspaces are excellent millipede habitats. There are often boxes of stored items and pieces of lumber on the ground under a home. The millipedes can feed on dead leaves that have blown into the crawl space or small pieces of damp or decaying wood.

Migration
In the fall, millipedes often migrate. They move out of their normal habitat. Scientists suspect they may be trying to get ready for winter. However, millipedes have also been seen migrating after a heavy rain has flooded their habitat. During these migrations, millipedes often find their way into homes.

What Do They Eat?
They eat dead leaves and decaying wood particles that they find.

Reproduction

Eggs are deposited in the soil; most species reach sexual maturity in the second year and live several years after that.