Millipedes. If you are seeing millipedes in the house, around the outside of your home, and in your yard, you might be wondering how to get rid of millipedes naturally. Or you might be worried about an infestation.Millipedes can be somewhat difficult to get rid of once they take up residence in your yard or home, but knowing some things about them can help you control them better.
What do Millipedes Look Like?
Millipedes are arthropods (myriapod invertebrates, more specifically).
- Millipedes are typically one to two inches long, but depending on the species, they may be longer.
- The most common millipedes are brownish or black in color and resemble worms with legs.
- Millipedes have round heads with short antennae and long segmented bodies, with most of their segments bearing two pairs of legs.
- As they walk, you'll see their legs move in a fluid, wavy motion.
- Millipedes are nocturnal and usually travel in large groups.
How Many Legs do Millipedes Have?
There are shorter and longer species of millipede. Though the name "millipede" is derived from the Latin word for "one thousand," the most legs known on a millipede species is 750 (Illacme plenipes).
Where do Millipedes Live Outdoors?
Millipedes require lots of moisture, and they prefer to stay in damp, dark outdoor areas, and near your home's foundation. In your yard, you'll usually find them in the garden or flowerbed in such spots as underneath leaves, flowerpots, grass and hedge trimmings, logs, boards, and rocks. They do not like being in the light.
Why do I Have Millipedes in My House?
Even though they prefer to live outside, they are also known to find their way into your home, garage, crawl space, or basement. They will head indoors for two reasons:
- In search of water during dry times
- To find shelter during heavy rain (which disrupts their natural habitat)
If you notice several millipedes in your home, you'll know that there are probably breeding and coming in from your lawn, mulch or compost piles, or from damp scattered leaves and other debris near your house's foundation.
Where do Millipedes Live Indoors?
Because they are crawlers, millipedes are most typically spotted on lower floors, basements, laundry rooms, and in bathrooms (proximity to moisture). Most millipedes that do wander into your house eventually die from lack of moisture. But in basements with plenty of moisture, millipedes can survive for longer periods of time.
What do Millipedes Eat?
Millipedes are known scavengers and most commonly feed on damp or decaying wood particles, as well as on decaying leaves and plant material (moss, mulch, etc.). Once their main source of food diminishes, millipedes will feed on living plant life. They will not feed upon your stored food.
Are Millipedes Poisonous?
Millipedes are nuisance pests, but they do not bite like centipedes sometimes can, and are not poisonous or dangerous to humans. But that doesn't mean they are defenseless. Some millipedes excrete an odorous liquid from their side glands, which scientists believe is toxic to spiders, insects, and small animals. The glandular liquid from some millipedes may even cause small blisters on your hands if you try to handle them. If you ever have to handle a millipede, be sure to wash your hands afterward!
Millipedes vs. Centipedes
Both millipedes and centipedes are arthropods, with segmented bodies. Millipedes look more like worms with legs (2 pairs of legs per body segment), while centipedes have only one pair of legs per body segment, are lighter in color, and they feature two pairs of antennae, one on each end of their bodies.
Another primary difference you'll notice is that millipedes move very slowly and they burrow, while centipedes are known for their agility and speed (they will dart around). Shorter species of millipede will also curl up in a ball when threatened, like roly-polies.
One other thing: centipedes can bite/sting if handled, though they aren't typically a threat to humans.
How to Get Rid of Millipedes
The easiest and quickest way to get rid of millipedes in the house is to remove them with a vacuum cleaner or shop-vac or to spot treat them with an effective plant-based insecticide, like Maggie’s Farm Home Bug Spray. Maggie's Farm Home Bug Spray will kill these bugs when you spray them directly with it. You can also spray specific entry points into your home with Maggie's Farm Home Bug Spray, which will leave behind some residual protection.
How to Prevent Millipedes
Your most effective long-term strategy is prevention, especially if you don't want a basement full of millipedes!
Start by removing mulch, leaves, grass and hedge clippings, boards, firewood, boxes, stones, etc. from the ground around your foundation, as these items attract millipedes and other moisture-seeking pests. If there's an item you can't remove, at least get it raised up off of the ground.
Once you've minimized areas around your home where millipedes can harbor and nest, and managed moisture to help prevent millipede build-up and population explosions, use an effective botanical yard insecticide like Maggie’s Farm Yard Bug Spray around the perimeter of your home. This will kill the millipedes in proximity to the structure and will also create a repellent residual barrier to keep millipedes and other pests away. Be sure to spray mulch beds next to the foundation (don’t spray siding), out to three feet away for effective control. Home Bug Spray is best for use indoors, or for spraying a specific entry point on the outside. It won’t work as well as Yard Bug Spray to reach the ones hiding underneath the mulch outdoors and to establish a good repellent barrier. You may also want to apply some Maggie's Farm Home Bug Spray or Yard Bug Spray along the inside walls of your crawl space or unfinished basement to create a good repellent barrier.
For even longer-lasting residual protection against millipedes and other crawling insects that hide indoors, use an effective insecticide dust, like Maggie’s Farm Spider & Insect Dust or Maggie’s Farm Bed Bug Killer. You can apply the dust around areas where you have spotted millipede activity, including basements, garages, laundry rooms, under sinks, and tubs, and in other cracks and crevices where pests have been seen. Don’t forget to apply inside any other cracks and crevices near areas with verified bug activity! These are the easy steps so you can successfully learn how to get rid of millipedes and other invasive pests.
More Tips to Help Prevent Millipedes
Here are some other helpful preventive tips to help keep your home millipede-free.
- Caulk all cracks and crevices in your home’s foundation, as well as around wiring and around plumbing where millipedes may enter.
- Make sure weather stripping and thresholds/door sweeps are in good repair and fit tightly in all your home's outside doors and windows. Caulk cracks around doors and windows.
- Caulk the expansion joints where sidewalks, patios, sunrooms, etc., are next to your foundation, as well as along the walls of your basement.
- Repair all indoor and outdoor water leaks, including leaky pipes, faucets, air conditioners.
- Reduce humidity in your home by providing adequate ventilation in your basement and crawlspaces.
- Use a dehumidifier, if necessary, to keep the air dry in your basement and use fans in rooms that don’t have good airflow.
- Make sure your rain gutters, downspouts, and splash blocks are working properly and are diverting water away from your home's foundation. Clean out your rain gutters, or consider installing guards to prevent clogs.
- Keep your grass and shrubbery trimmed short and consider de-thatching your lawn.
- Avoid overwatering your lawn whenever necessary. Make a point to water early in the morning instead of at night so the grass has time to dry out before nightfall (when millipedes are most active). Adjust your sprinklers to help prevent water from pooling up around your yard (this will help reduce mosquito activity, too).
Keep Your Home Clean and Dry
Clean, dry floors and areas where millipedes might gather (basement, laundry room, bathroom) will go a long way to keeping these pests at bay indoors. At this point, you can try waiting it out. Millipedes can only live for a few days in your clean, dry house, so any millipede activity will be short-lived.
If a millipede infestation becomes more than you think you can handle, be sure to call a pest control company.
What are your best strategies against millipedes in your home? Post a comment. We’d love to hear from you!
For scientifically-tested, effective millipede control in your yard and home that is friendly to the environment, try Maggie’s Farm pest control products. Our promise is that our plant and mineral-based products are developed by scientists and seasoned pest control professionals to be the most effective.