Millipedes, also called thousand-legged worms, are distant relatives of centipedes. Millipedes are 1 to several inches long, hard-bodied, cylindrical, and wormlike, usually brown, pinkish brown, or grayish. They have two very short legs on each body segment and a total of 30 to 400 legs (but not 1,000 legs, as their name suggests). Young millipedes look like the adults but initially have only three pairs of legs. Millipedes curl up in a coil when they are touched or picked up. They hide in damp, dark places, such as under stones or boards, or in plant debris. Large numbers of them may crawl into houses during heavy rains or during dry periods in summer and fall. Millipedes normally feed on decaying matter. When they become numerous, however, they may feed on small roots, seedlings, or vegetable seeds. Root crops, decaying flower bulbs, and overripe fruit that touches damp ground-especially muskmelons, tomatoes, and strawberries-may attract millipedes.
If millipedes are numerous around your home, treat around plants and other areas where millipedes hide. Millipedes move slowly, which makes them simple to remove from inside the house. Pick them up by hand or with a vacuum cleaner, or sweep them up with a broom.