Often mistaken for centipedes, millipedes are about 1.5 inches long and dark brown to dark red in color. They’re arthropods, not insects, and have a hard outer shell. They have segmented bodies and at least two pairs of legs on each segment. There are over 6,000 species of millipedes worldwide. The common millipedes we’re used to in the U.S. live an average of 5 to 7 years and are detrivores, meaning they prefer to eat dead things and decaying plants. Common millipedes don’t bite and roll up into a ball or circle when disturbed. They are generally harmless to people and pets, though some do have a sensitivity to them. When they die, they can ooze a smelly fluid or when crushed, their body fluids can stain surfaces.
Millipedes in the Home
Millipedes generally wander into your home during the fall when the weather begins to turn colder and they need a warm place to spend the winter. A mature millipede can lay up to 300 eggs at a time, so while they’re generally harmless, they can be annoying and difficult to get rid of in some cases. Thankfully, it can take up to 5 years for them to reach reproductive maturity. Once inside your home, millipedes will seek out the most humid spots. It’s common to find them in bathrooms, laundry rooms and anyplace in your home where there is higher humidity such as around plumbing leaks inside walls.
How to Get Rid of Millipedes
Getting rid of millipedes is difficult but not impossible. They can use the smallest crack or crevice to find their way into your home. Here are the top ways to keep millipedes at bay:
Prevention – Prevent millipedes from getting into your home in the first place by caulking and sealing around windows, doors, cables, plumbing and wires. Seal cracks in the foundation and install a door sweep.
Avoid Moisture – Millipedes need humidity to survive. Run fans and invest in a dehumidifier to dry out your home. Pay close attention to rooms or places where moisture builds up such as in the bathroom, under sinks or around plumbing inside walls. Also check for leaks in the plumbing and drippy faucets.
Remove Their Food – Millipedes primarily eat decaying plant matter. If you have dead or dying plants in your home, toss them out in the trash. If you have thick mulch and dead or dying plants in the flower beds around your home, thin out the mulch and clean out dying plants to avoid attracting millipedes. You can also help dry the soil out by adding wood ash, especially to loose soil along the foundation and use a rake to mix it in to speed up drying time.
Pest Control – Tell your pest control provider if you have noticed increased numbers of millipedes and they can make sure to spray for them around the perimeter of your home to help prevent the intruders from getting in.
Millipedes are one of those critters that are more of an annoyance in most cases, however, any pest that finds its way into your home can cause a problem. If you seem to have a million millipedes inviting themselves in, call The Pest Force to remedy the problem and revoke their invitations.