Common North American species are brownish, one to 2.5 to 4 cm long; segmented, with two pair of legs per segment.
Millipedes normally live outdoors in damp places. Around homes they live in flowerbeds and gardens.
People find millipedes under mulch, piles of dead leaves, or under piles of grass clipping. Millipedes also live under structures like dog houses and storage sheds. Millipedes thrive in places where the soil stays damp. They eat dead leaves and decaying wood particles that they find.
In the fall, millipedes often migrate. They move out of their normal habitat. Scientists suspect they may be trying to get ready for winter. However, millipedes have also been seen migrating after a heavy rain has flooded their habitat. During these migrations, millipedes often find their way into homes.
When they come to a home, millipedes gather on porches and patios. They climb the foundation of the home and they often find entryways. They enter through basement doors and windows, crawlspace vents, and garage doors. Many homeowners find millipedes in their basements. They may hide under furniture or boxes of stored items. Since many basements are dark and undisturbed, the millipedes can be very active.
Crawlspaces are excellent millipede habitats. There are often boxes of stored items and pieces of lumber on the ground under a home. The millipedes can feed on dead leaves that have blown into the crawl space or small pieces of damp or decaying wood.
As they move around, many millipedes move into the living space of the home—often in great numbers. Millipedes can enter homes by crawling under doors that have missing weather stripping. They also enter homes from the garage or by coming up from the crawl space through the floor.
Eggs are deposited in the soil; most species reach sexual maturity in the second year and live several years after that.
Other than the sightings of the millipedes, there aren’t many distinct signs of their presence.
Homeowners have found millipedes in almost every part of the home. Kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms are ideal habitats because of the moisture. However, millipedes will travel into other areas of the home as well.
In an emergency, a vacuum cleaner or a shop-type vacuum can be used to remove millipedes from walls and floors. When the situation gets bad, many homeowners call for help.
The Orkin Man™ is trained to manage millipedes. Using Orkin’s exclusive system of Assess, Implement and Monitor (A.I.M.), he can design a solution for your home’s unique situation. For more information or to schedule an inspection, please call your local Orkin branch office.
A millipede treatment plan usually begins with an inspection by your pest management professional to locate the source of the millipedes and how they are getting inside the home. Once the inspection is completed, your pest management professional will prepare a millipede treatment plan that may involve both non-chemical and chemical treatment methods.
Non-chemical components of the millipede treatment plan will emphasize preventing millipedes from getting inside the home and taking actions outside to reduce the suitable harborage sites that favor millipede populations. Some of the specific things in the treatment plan may include sealing around doors, windows, cracks, gaps and crevices, plus reducing moist places that favor millipede survival outside the home. For example, the plan may recommend limiting the amount of mulch, rocks or debris that are likely to create moist areas favoring large numbers of millipedes.
If millipedes do gain entrance, using vacuums to remove millipedes is often an effective alternative to using chemical products. However, if chemical products are the more effective and efficient approach, your millipede treatment plan might include exterior and interior applications of products to potential entry points and harborage sites where millipedes accumulate.