Introduction: How to Get Rid of Millipedes
If you suspect you have a millipede infestation in your house, don’t panic. You are not alone. Millipede (and centipede) infestations are relatively common problems in the United States. Millipedes are not particularly harmful, but they certainly are annoying and unwelcome. Their close relative, the centipede, is even more problematic and aggressive. It’s time to remove the welcome mat and get these creepy crawlers out of your house. The big question you are probably asking is: how do I get rid of millipedes and centipedes in my house?
In this article, the following topics will be covered:
- Millipedes: An Overview
- Millipedes vs. Centipedes
- How to Get Rid of Millipedes in My House
- How to Get Rid of Centipedes and Millipedes
- When to Call in the Professionals
Millipedes: An Overview; Identification
Importantly, you need to be able to correctly identify a millipede. Then, you can treat an infestation. Why? Because you could potentially be dealing with another critter. A different infestation may require a different approach. Millipedes are critters that fall into the category of arthropods. Arthropods are invertebrate animals. Technically, they aren’t insects. They belong to the class of Diplopoda. The name “Diplopoda” refers to the sets of two jointed feet they have on each segment of their body. “Millipede” translates to a thousand feet. This is a reference to the many, hair-like feet found on a millipede that allow it to almost glide along. Of course, millipedes do not actually have that many legs or feet. They usually have between 30-90 pairs. One species, the Illacme Plenipes, has over 300 pairs of legs. Millipedes have antennae, worm-like bodies, and are usually black or brown. Millipedes are often mixed up with caterpillars.
There are approximately 12,000 different species of millipedes. They live all over the world. Millipedes are believed to be one of the first animals to exist on Earth. Incredibly, it is estimated that they have existed for 428 million years. They practice seasonal migration and are often found in extremely large quantities.
Millipedes can be anywhere from a quarter of an inch long to an astonishing 15”. They come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors and overall appearance. Millipedes usually eat dead plants and leaves and are known as nature’s recyclers. They thrive on decomposing plant and animal material. A very small amount of millipedes are predatory, but they are incredibly rare. Millipedes do, however, excrete a chemical that can be an irritant to humans. In extremely large quantities, this chemical can be toxic. It can kill small animals, including pets. It can also cause blisters if it comes in direct contact with human skin. This is part of the millipede’s natural defense against predators. Millipedes are docile creatures. They rarely release this chemical irritant. The vast majority of millipedes are a nuisance, but they are relatively harmless.
Millipedes vs. Centipedes
Millipedes and centipedes are often confused due to their similar appearance. The species are related, though surprisingly distantly rather than closely. Centipedes are more aggressive. They move faster than millipedes and they are predatory. Many species of centipedes are venomous. In some cases, they bite and sting. In terms of physical characteristics, centipedes have some differences. For example, they have one set of feet on each body segment. As previously mentioned, millipedes have two. The biggest tell, however, is the quick movement of the centipede. Both centipedes and millipedes seek out shelter as the climate turns colder. As a result, they may be targeting your house.
Centipedes are controversial creatures. While they are certainly unwelcome inside your home, some of the work they do is actually helpful. Like spiders, they live off of insects and other smaller pests. Specifically, they eat moths, flies, and termites. These pests can cause much more damage to your household. An argument exists for allowing the occasional, lone centipede to live. This is because they can be so helpful. They do not leave behind nests or webs. One centipede may be okay. A full-blown infestation, however, is an entirely different matter.
If you have millipedes inside your house, you are probably not very happy about it. You are not alone. In certain parts of the United States, infestations are occurring in record numbers. The infestations are not limited to residential areas, either. Schools, stores and other buildings have been impacted. Swarms of the unwelcome invaders are overwhelming entire neighborhoods. They migrate in incredibly large numbers. They also can release a foul-smelling odor to ward off predators, and they taste bitter.
Typically, when a millipede is threatened, it curls up into a ball. It usually does not respond aggressively. Nevertheless, they are creepy, slimy, stinky, and harmful to houseplants. They belong outside. You are probably asking, how do I get rid of millipedes indoors?
How do I Get Rid of Millipedes in My House?
If you have a millipede infestation, taking the following steps can help you get rid of the millipedes inside your house, without using any sort of chemicals or poisons. These action items will help get rid of millipedes indoors.
- Identifying and sealing any cracks in your home’s foundation.
- Repair any leaks; millipedes are attracted to water. This includes pipes, sinks, air conditioners and so on.
- Reduce your home’s humidity with a dehumidifier.
- Seal off any possible entry points like crawl spaces and hatches.
- Apply weather stripping to windows that do not shut properly.
- Seal the expansion joints around the perimeter of your home.
- Seal the perimeter of the basement.
- Keep your home free of dead or dried out plants.
- Perform regular cleaning and dusting.
- Use a shop vac or similar vacuum to remove any millipedes you see in your home.
There are additional steps you can take to control a millipede infestation. These steps involve maintaining the outside of your house, including your lawn. They include:
- Removing any clogs from your gutters. Remember, millipedes are drawn to water.
- Getting rid of any excess clutter, especially in areas that may be moist. For example, woodpiles that are not protected from the rain.
- Remove any piles of mulch, woodchips or firewood that are stacked directly against your home or garage.
- Mow your lawn regularly. Long grass is a virtual salad bar for millipedes.
- Rake your yard to rid it of any dead plants, branches, leaves and so forth.
How to Get Rid of Millipedes and Centipedes: Chemical Options
If the steps outlined above haven’t worked, there are additional options. This includes the use of chemical insecticides, sprays, foggers, traps and so forth. Pyrethroid insecticides are particularly effective against millipedes and centipedes. Pyrethroids are usually highly toxic to arthropods.
However, they are low in toxicity to mammals. Insecticides can be purchased online or at a hardware store. Of course, with the use of any sort of insecticide, there are certain dangers and risks. Read all instructions and do not ignore any of the warning labels. While insecticides are effective, they can wind up accidentally hurting you and your family.
Calling in the Professionals
If you have a serious infestation, do not hesitate to call a pest control professional. A professional exterminator has the skills needed to handle even the worse infestations. Millipedes and centipedes are stubborn, adaptive creatures. This is why they have been around for millions of years.
Chemical insecticides can be dangerous. Using foggers, for example, can put children and animals at risk if done improperly. Instead of taking any unnecessary risks, it is safest to consult with a professional. He or she will offer recommendations to you and you can decide on a plan of action. This may involve you, your family and your pets briefly vacating your home during the application of the insecticide.
Pest control professionals also have methods of preventing future infestations. This may include periodic maintenance visits. The application of residual treatments and the use of bait or traps may also be helpful.
Conclusion: Getting Rid of Millipedes and Centipedes
Neither millipedes nor centipedes belong in your home. Both are invasive, persistent creatures. They are highly skilled at gaining entry to your home. However, there are steps you can take to control and prevent such infestations. They include:
- Sealing off any cracks around the perimeter of your property
- Keeping your yard clean and well mowed
- Removing any mulch piles or stacks of wood that are directly next to your home
- Repairing any leaks inside your home
- Using a dehumidifier to reduce your home’s humidity
- Vacuuming up and millipedes or centipedes
- Using a chemical insecticide; and
- Calling a professional pest control expert.
Your best defense against an infestation is calling in a professional. Make sure your home stays clean and infestation free with regular maintenance. Simply relying on a pest control expert is not enough against these pesky invaders. It’s up to you to perform the requisite upkeep on your home and yard. With a little work and some help from an expert, you can beat an infestation for good.