Pest Identification: Millipedes
Most Common Types
Millipedes are many-legged diplopods which resemble centipedes. Millipedes are not insects but they are closely related invertebrates.. Around 12,000 millipede species have been identified.
What They Look Like
The most common millipedes have round, dark brown, and segmented bodies. They are elongated, reaching 1 to 3 inches when fully grown. Unlike centipedes, which have a single pair of legs per body segment, millipedes have two pairs of legs per segment. They resemble worms with several hundred legs and tend to curl up in a tight coil when disturbed or dead.
Where They Live
Millipedes live in forests, fields, deserts, caves, and mountain environments where they feed on decaying vegetation and organic matter in the soil. Millipedes prefer darkness and moisture and often live under rocks. Some species can survive floods by living underwater for up to 11 months.
Where They Nest
After a female millipede mates, she eats some soil and excretes it. The feces is shaped into a nest where the female then lays hundreds of eggs, which are left to hatch on their own. When millipedes are born they only have seven body segments and three pair of legs, and resemble adults but smaller. It can take one to five years for millipedes to mature, and they can live several years after maturity.
Steps to Prevent
People sometimes report little black worms crawling into their basement windows. In North America these invasions often take place in spring, or in September and October during rainy weather. When millipedes enter the home, they usually die within 24 to 48 hours due to lack of moisture. If millipedes become a chronic problem dry out moist areas of the home, especially in the basement and in the outdoor areas around the foundation. Also, caulk up cracks around utility lines that enter the home. Invasions usually last only a few days, so you can simply wait for them to subside and vacuum up the bodies.
Are They Harmful?
Millipedes are a beneficial species which help put nutrients back in the soil. They do not bite or pose any danger to humans.