There are over 1,000 species of Millipedes in the United States alone, and 15,000 millipede species that have been identified. Millipedes are a North American insect that lives in the outdoors in damp areas. Typically a brown color, these long segmented creatures will have two pairs of legs attached to each segment. Their size ranges from 1/16 of an inch to a whole 12 inches!
Millipedes migrate during the fall, which is coincidentally when they are often appearing in homes. The millipede’s diet includes dead leaves and old wood that they find lying about. When the millipede feels that it is being threatened, it will spiral into a circle shape and create an unpleasant smelling fluid that will need to be washed off immediately if it were to come in contact with the skin.
They are a very slow creature, which is why coiling up and releasing fluid is their defense. The centipede has many differences from the millipede but is commonly mistaken for the millipede.
A millipede’s habitat is usually under mulch, piles of leaves or clippings from the grass. As mentioned previously, they migrate in the fall or after heavy rain has disrupted their home. They can be found in the basements or on the front porches of homes, usually crawling through vents and garage doors. Some species are known to destroy roots and cause rock damage. Their eggs are inserted into the soil and the female creates a nest-like area, which is often made up of her own feces. It takes a year to fully mature into the adult stage, and when this happens the millipede can live up to 7 years depending on the type of species.
Elimination or Control
The first step to eliminating this pest is properly identifying them. Make sure to clean up grass and leaves in your yard so millipedes will not have any food. Seal cracks in your pavement that cradle water and rake the thatch that has gotten on the lawn. In your home, seal all cracks and crevices that a millipede can make their way through. If a millipede does make their way into the home, an easy chemical-free solution is to use a vacuum to suck them up. If that is not an effective treatment, consider a chemical insect killer for inside or outside the home or call a professional local exterminator.