Common garden millipedes tend to invade homes during wet weather.
by Charlotte Glen, Horticulture Agent, N.C. Cooperative Extension
WAKE FOREST — If your garage, home, shed, beehive or any other dry structure has been invaded with millipedes in the last few weeks, blame it on the wet weather.
These many-legged arthropods are simply seeking higher ground to avoid drowning.
The good news is garden millipedes feed only on decaying organic matter and they do not bite, sting, or transmit diseases, nor do they infest plants, food, clothing or wood.
And they usually die within a few days of entering your home because the air is too dry for them to survive in air conditioned buildings.
Millipedes are common pests. They vary greatly in size and color. The most common species that invades buildings is the “garden millipede,” which is brownish-black in color and about 1 inch long.
Millipedes are often confused with centipedes; however, centipedes only have one pair of legs per body segment.
In addition to invasions triggered by the weather, millipedes also migrate in the fall. The result is millipedes invading crawl spaces, basements and other areas of buildings where moisture tends to accumulate, like crawl spaces, basements and garages.
Millipedes are skilled climbers and can even make their way up to a second floor or the roof of a house.
When controlling millipedes, emphasis should be placed first on reducing excess moisture and hiding places, especially around the foundation.
Heavy accumulations of leaves, grass clippings and mulch around the foundation should be removed six to 12 feet away from the wall.
Homeowners should also seal cracks and other openings in the outside foundation walls and around doors and windows with caulk in addition to installing door sweeps on exterior entry doors.
Application of insecticides along baseboards and interior living areas of the home are not usually effective.
After millipedes die, they can be removed with a vacuum cleaner or broom.
Learn more about millipedes from this NC Extension fact sheet: ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/millipedes.htm.