Millipedes are insects that can be found all over North America. While they generally live outdoors, they can migrate into homes. Though an actual millipede infestation is quite rare, it can certainly occur. However, these insects do not leave any evidence; the only way homeowners know that they are actually inside the home is when they are spotted. A insect control specialist can help identify if there is an infestation.
Millipedes, like centipedes, are classified as arthropods. They have an exoskeleton and segmented bodies that contain two pairs of legs on most of those segments. Despite their name, they don’t really have a million legs. Most have anywhere from 40 to 400 and a maximum of 750. Another fun fact is that they always have an odd number of pairs of legs. The two common species in North America are brownish in color and can range from 2.5cm to 4cm in length. When they are found inside of the home or even on patios or porches, they appear in huge populations. Millipedes can live for several years, often in the same areas, and begin to lay eggs sometime during the second year of existence.
Where They Live and What They Eat
These insects prefer damp, dark locations and can often be found under large rocks, doghouses, or even storage sheds since these provide the perfect atmosphere for them. They eat decaying wood and dead leaves, so they are most active during the warmer months. Though they do prefer these locations, conditions like flooding may cause them to evacuate and move into homes. When this happens, homeowners are most likely to notice them on porches, in basements, and in crawlspaces. Inside the home, they prefer bathrooms, laundry rooms, and dark, cool areas within kitchens.
Are They Harmful to Humans?
Despite their outward “creepy” appearance and the fact that their centipede cousins can deliver some pretty painful bites, millipedes are generally very small and almost completely harmless to humans. They don’t bite and they can’t sting, but there are some species that emit a liquid from specialized glands in their bodies that is thought to be toxic to other types of insects and very small animals. People who handle certain millipedes may notice small blisters on their hands, but these go away quickly and are generally considered harmless.
Getting Rid of Them
While they pose no real physical threats to humans, a millipede infestation can be unsightly and frustrating. Keep in mind that a single sighting does not necessarily indicate an infestation, but if you are concerned, you can contact your local insect control service. They will usually put down sticky traps in the areas that are most commonly inhabited to determine the scope of the problem. Then, if it is determined that there is a problem, insecticide or pesticide can be used both inside and outside the home to kill the existing millipedes that are already inside and to prevent future infestations, too.
While an invasion of millipedes may be a little intimidating, remember that they are harmless to humans for the most part and can simply be removed with a standard or a wet/dry vacuum depending upon the location. However, many homeowners contact local pest control services not only to remove them, but to prevent them from coming back.