Learn how to identify common pests; understand their biology, diet, and habits; and find out what you can do to control them.
Facts, Identification & Control
Millipedes are brownish, elongated, and cylindrical to slightly flattened creatures. When they walk, their legs move in an undulating, wavelike manner. When prodded or at rest, most millipedes curl up.
Where do they live?
Millipedes normally live in and feed on rotting leaves, rotting wood, and other kinds of moist, decaying plant matter.
Sometimes individual millipedes wander from their moist living places into homes, but they usually die quickly because of the dry conditions and lack of food. Occasionally, large numbers of millipedes migrate, often uphill, as their food supply dwindles or their living places become either too wet or too dry.
When disturbed they don’t bite, but some species exude a defensive liquid that can irritate skin or burn the eyes.
Where do they live?
The female millipedes lay their eggs in clutches beneath the soil surface. The young grow gradually in size, adding segments and legs as they mature. Adult millipedes vary from 12 mm to 165 mm in length. They mature in 2 to 5 years and continue to live for several years thereafter.
How do they affect us?
Generally, their role is a beneficial one in helping to break down dead plant matter.
When they become numerous, they may damage sprouting seeds, seedlings or other ripening fruits in contact with the ground.
How do we control them?
Those that stray indoors can be swept out or picked up with a vacuum cleaner. Sealing cracks and other openings to the outside helps prevent millipedes from entering.
Eliminating moist hiding places in and around the home and removing rotting wood and decaying grass and leaves from around the house’s foundation will kill or discourage millipedes. To discourage millipedes in garden areas, the quantities of mulch and organic matter should be reduced and excessive moisture needs to be avoided.