How to Kill, Control & Prevent Millipedes
These benign insects prefer damp places.
Active at night and found throughout the United States, common species of millipede are usually brown or black in color, but there are also some species that are orange or red. Millipedes are usually 1 to 2 inches long with worm-like bodies that are divided into many segments each containing two pairs of legs. While their name means “thousand legs”, this arthropod doesn’t actually have that many (80-400 is typical.) When they walk, their legs appear to move in a wave-like motion, and they will curl up into a small coil when resting or disturbed.
Their Hiding Places
Millipedes prefer the comfort of damp, dark outdoor places such as under mulch, leaves, compost piles, flowerpots, wood piles, stones, and other plant debris. If the conditions outside become too hot, dry, or wet from heavy rain, they will sometimes find their way into your home seeking shelter. Indoors, they will seek out the cool, damp places like the basement, crawl spaces, or the garage.
Preferred Food Sources
Millipedes are decomposers and are beneficial to have around your yard. Like earthworms, they eat damp, decaying plant material like leaves and flowers. During periods of drought, millipedes have been known to feed on living plants where they get needed moisture from the leaves and roots.
Controlling Millipedes Is Easy
When millipedes make their way inside your house, they stick around because they don’t know how to get back out. If you find millipedes in your house, you can consider waiting them out. Millipedes can only survive a few days in the dry environment found in most homes, so any infestation is likely to be short-lived. You can also sweep them up with a broom or vacuum or you can pick up these benign creatures by hand.
Another option is to spray them with Ortho® Home Defense® Insect Killer for Indoor & Perimeter. Then create a barrier against future millipedes and other bugs by spraying along the bottom of exterior doors, entrances to crawl spaces, vents and utility openings in the foundation wall, where the siding meets the foundation block, along the outside perimeter of your home, and along the interior walls of crawl spaces and basements. For millipede problems in your yard, use Ortho® Home Defense® Insect Killer for Lawn & Landscape instead.
Preventing Future Problems
To prevent future millipede infestations in your home, do the following:
- Remove their hiding places. Don’t pile mulch against the foundation, and remove leaves, grass clippings, woodpiles, and stones from around the outside of your home.
- Make sure your foundation, basement, and crawl spaces are dry by using dehumidifiers or sump pumps if needed.
- Keep gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and in good working order to help keep water away from your foundation.
- Repair leaky faucets, water pipes, and air conditioning units.
- Avoid overwatering your lawn and dethatch if needed. (Millipedes will also live in the thick, moist thatch layer of a poorly maintained lawn.)
- Seal and caulk cracks and other openings in your foundation wall, and apply door sweeps to exterior doors.