Many homeowners are puzzled by a worm-like bug known as the millipede. They don’t bite, but they can be odorous, causing staining and other problems, especially when there’s a sudden swarm of them. Even worse, certain species of millipedes release a harmful toxin when handled roughly or threatened that can cause certain people to have allergic reactions. If you suspect you may have a millipede problem, here are some ways to prevent and control these pests, along with how to recognize them.
Identifying Physical Features
Because millipedes in Omaha don’t leave any telltale signs suggesting there’s an infestation, it’s important to identify them. In other words, the only clue that you have millipedes is finding them.
- Rather than being insects, they’re arthropods, which have jointed legs and multiple body segments.
- Their most distinguishing physical feature is their many legs. They appear to have thousands of legs, but they actually have from about 30 to 350 legs.
- They’re oval or cylinder-shaped, have a somewhat flat body and are about 1” to 1.5” long.
- Although their most common colors are black or brown, there are some red or orange species.
- Most species contain seven segments.
- They have a round head and short antennae.
- Millipedes look similar to centipedes, which are also arthropods. But centipedes are generally longer are don’t resemble worms as much as millipedes do.
Common Habitats and Behaviors
- Outdoors, millipedes are commonly found underneath grass clippings, rotting firewood, trash or anywhere there’s decaying organic matter and moisture.
- They mainly consume decaying wood and organic plant matter.
- They coil up into a “C” shape, without moving, when touched. Also, their coiled-up position can suggest they’re either resting or dead.
- When sliding along a surface, their tiny legs look like ripples of waves.
Symptoms Suggesting Millipede Toxin on Your Skin
When millipede toxin contacts the skin, several symptoms may occur, such as skin turning brown. The toxin can also cause intense burning, itching and blisters.
The most vulnerable part of the human body is the eye. Although rare, millipede toxin getting into a person’s eyes can result in blindness. Other eye problems include conjunctivitis (inflammation of the membrane lining the eyelids) and keratitis (inflammation of the cornea.)
If any millipede toxin gets on your skin, thoroughly wash the affected area, using soap and water. You should never use alcohol. If the toxin gets in your eye, use a generous amount of water to rinse it out and immediately seek medical care.
Prevention and Control Measures
Preventing an infestation of millipedes should begin outdoors by making your yard unfriendly to these pests. For example:
- Remove rocks, wood debris, leaf litter, grass clippings or anything holding moisture.
- Don’t store firewood on the ground.
- Water your lawn during morning hours so that your grass has dried out by the afternoon.
- Don’t overly mulch your flower beds.
- Reduce the amount of humidity in your home because this can make it less desirable for millipedes.
- Seal and caulk all gaps around doors, windows, siding and pipes to prevent millipedes from entering.
- Use a high quality residual spray along crevices, cracks and baseboards.
- You can also use natural control methods, such as boric acid and diatomaceous earth. For example, the powder form of boric acid can be used to fill crevices inhabited by millipedes. This is a weak acid that sticks to the legs of millipedes, working like a stomach poison.
- Diatomaceous earth, which is also very effective, consists of tiny, extremely sharp fossilized diatoms that cut millipedes so that they become dehydrated and then die.
- Chickens are another excellent biological control method as they eat millipedes.
Considerations and Warnings
- There are some large millipede species that can eject toxic secretions as far as 32 inches.
- Sometimes, millipedes travel in large numbers, making them extremely hard to control. That’s when you need the help of a professional exterminator.
It can be overwhelming, or even impossible, to control many types of insects, pests and other critters. Don’t hesitate to call the pros at Miller Pest and Termite Control. Please contact us and learn more about our wide range of pest control services.