Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, it was common to run out to the garage and stop short – almost falling – to avoid stepping on a millipede. Unlike their name indicates, millipedes usually have less than 100 legs, but have two legs for every segment of their body. While commonly thought of as an insect, they are more closely related to lobsters and shrimp! Unfortunately, they don’t taste as good as their relatives. I’ve never tried one, but judging by their foul stench after they are squished, I’ll continue to stay far away.
A millipede’s strong odor is a form of defense against predators. Some millipedes are even poisonous if ingested by small animals! However, in general, millipedes are harmless to humans. They can even help rotate soil and benefit garden areas as long as they don’t turn into an infestation. An infestation will result in these critters eating plants and vegetables within the garden.
How can you tell if you are encountering a millipede or it’s cousin the centipede? Centipedes often have fewer legs than millipedes, possessing one pair per body segment as compared with the two pairs that millipedes possess. Their long legs flare outward from their body and they are flatter than millipedes. Millipedes legs will generally be underneath their cyndrilic body and they move more slowly than centipedes.
Millipedes are adults throughout the winter and will lay their eggs in organic material, such as dead leaves, in the Spring. If you are having issues with millipedes it will be important to receive pest control treatments throughout the winter to minimize the number of adult millipedes that will lay eggs in your yard in the Spring.
There are a few different reasons why a millipede might enter your home. Hot and dry weather during the summer may motivate these critters to look for moisture inside, especially in your crawlspace, garage and basement. The opposite can also be true and is more likely to occur in Washington. Millipedes can come inside seeking shelter from excessive rain. You may notice that more millipedes invade your home during extreme weather conditions.
Begin by cleaning up plant debris and moisture areas around your home. If you have a leaky hose or gutters you can try using caulking or another sealant to minimize excess moisture build up. Making sure that you are removing old mulch and placing new mulch at a distance of 6-12 inches away from your house would also be an important way to minimize millipede access points.
Pesticide applications to the foundation of your home and surrounding areas can also help minimize your millipede population. It is important to be mindful when applying chemicals to the environment, contact Insight for an environmentally friendly approach to your pest issues and help with Millipede Extermination!
Make sure to check out our Facts about Earwigs and Why Wasps Keep Coming Back posts for more pest control information and tips! As always, Insight is here to address your pest concerns, contact us with questions or to schedule an inspection.