Don’t be fooled by their name; millipedes don’t have a million legs! However, these small arthropods do have quite a few, boasting from 50 all the way up to 1,300 legs. They are often confused with their carnivorous cousins, centipedes, but they have several features that set them apart.

Renowned for being the oldest creatures to walk from water to land, about 420 million years ago, these long creatures are nature’s little recyclers. Although they are classified as pests, millipedes won’t damage your clothes or furniture, or bite you or your family members. They only become a nuisance when they invade your home in large numbers. 

When threatened, millipedes curl into a tight spiral to protect their smooth and vulnerable underside. They may also produce a foul-smelling fluid that can be irritating when it comes into contact with your skin. These creatures feed on dead decaying matter and are responsible for recycling nutrients back to the soil.

How to Identify Millipedes

Millipedes are easily confused with centipedes because of their close resemblance. However, a few features help separate the former from the latter. First, they have two pairs of legs in each segment, unlike centipedes that only have one pair on each segment. Secondly, millipedes also assume a circular body shape, while centipedes tend to have a flatter body. Millipedes also tend to be a bit smaller than centipedes. 

Most millipedes are detritivores and feed on decaying matter, while centipedes are carnivorous and feed on other live insects. Some other features unique to millipedes include:

Size: They measure around .12 to 10.5 inches long.

Color: Dark brown, black, and shiny reddish

Bodily Features: Hard, circular, cord-like body divided into multiple segments with two pairs of legs in each segment. They have short but visible antennae. They move slower than centipedes as their legs push in a wave-like pattern. Millipedes coil into a spiral when threatened. 

Habitat: Millipedes live outdoors in dark and moist areas such as in compost bins, places with decaying dead leaves, and rotting logs. They settle high moisture areas in the house, such as the basements, bathrooms, cellars, and under the sink.

Diet: Millipedes are detritivores; they feed on dead and decaying matter. Most millipede species will feed exclusively on dead plants, but some will also feed on animal carcasses. 

Are Millipedes Dangerous?

Millipedes are harmless creatures that won’t cause any damage to your home. They won’t contaminate your food, chew up clothes, or destroy your furniture. Besides the fact that they become a nuisance when you have a full-blown infestation, there’s not much to stress about with these creatures.

 The only exception would be that they can produce a foul-smelling fluid that might irritate the skin if they are mishandled or feel threatened. Still, it won’t cause any severe complications.

How to Prevent and Control Millipedes

The primary means of prevention is reducing the conditions that favor these arthropods and sealing entry points. Homeowners should:

  • Get rid of dead leaves, rotting logs, woodpiles, grass clippings, and wooden boxes from the area near the house.
  • Reduce moisture accumulation near the foundation by fixing gutters and pruning overgrown trees and shrubs.
  • Repair leaking faucets and pipes, and de-clutter the basement
  • Keeping the lawn well-maintained by keeping grass mowed and dethatching the lawn, if necessary.
  • Seal cracks and gaps on the wall, windows, and doors.

You should always have a backup in case these preventative measures fail. If your millipede problem becomes severe, reach out to an experienced pest control company. The experts at Domain Pest Control have the tools and the know-how to help you get rid of millipedes and keep them away!

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