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Millipedes are arthropods found throughout the world which spend their time feeding on decaying organic matter and dead insects, making them an essential part of our ecosystems. Unlike centipedes, which are carnivorous, millipedes feed primarily on this plant material. Although millipedes are not typically considered harmful to humans, they can secrete an unpleasant compound when agitated or distributed that may cause skin or eye irritation in some people. For the reason, it is advisable not to pick up or otherwise disturb millipedes.
Millipedes feed primarily on plant material, dead insects, and other decaying organic matter in the environment. In nature, they play a useful role in returning damp or decaying materials back into the surrounding environment.
Millipedes are commonly found in areas of high moisture and decaying organic matter such as beneath woodpiles, under trash bins, in piles of lawn debris, around flower beds, beneath mulch and other ground cover, and other similar areas. Although millipedes will readily infiltrate buildings when the presence outside is high, millipedes do not generally survive indoors for more than a few days unless higher-than normal moisture conditions exist along with an ample food supply of decaying organic matter.
Millipedes commonly appear in large numbers, often in the Autumn each year. If you are experiencing large concentrations of millipedes on or around your property, chances are you are in a high moisture area rife with decaying organic matter. In addition to pest control intervention, habitat modification will be an essential part of any millipede control program.
Because millipedes flourish in areas of high moisture content, reducing moisture levels inside your home and around your yard will eliminate the conditions favorable to their continued occupation.
Indoor Moisture Control for Millipedes: Indoors, reduce the moisture levels by used a dehumidifier in areas conducive to moisture retention such as basements.
Outdoor Moisture Control for Millipedes: Outdoors, look to keep your lawn trimmed as short as possible, eliminate any areas that may provide for moist harborage, and adjust your sprinkler settings so that watering takes place early in the day to allow for the environment to dry out during the daytime. Watering late in the day may cause the environment to retain moisture in a way that lends itself to advanced millipede populations.
Millipedes inside your home or building are a function of high millipede populations in the exterior environment around it, and millipede remediation will revolve around exterior efforts. Spraying inside the building for millipedes is generally not necessary or recommended. Sticky traps can be used indoors to capture millipedes crawling about while the exterior treatment program has an opportunity to run its course. To speed up the process indoors, vacuuming may also be a viable millipede removal option. When considering vacuuming, keep in mind that some millipedes may secrete an unpleasant odor when disturbed. In areas sensitive to smell, vacuuming may not be advisable.
Many insecticides have proven highly effective in controlling and eliminating millipede concentrations in exterior environments. Pesticide applications indoors for millipedes is typically not advisable, other than in instances of advanced populations. Exterior habitat modification in combination with indoor/outdoor moisture reduction and indoor trapping are ideal complements to exterior millipede spray or granular insecticide applications.
Pesticides such as bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, and others have all proven effective in millipede control programs. When spraying outdoors for millipedes, special attention should be given to area adjacent to the foundation, around wood piles and rocks, beneath mulch, around utility poles, and any other dark, moist areas that create ideal habitats for millipedes. Consideration should also be given to granule insecticide formulations such as Talstar PL which may be able to better penetrate through blades of grass to deliver toxic levels of pesticide where the millipedes may be located.