Latin Name Class Diplopoda
Description There are literally thousands of species of millipede. Common North American species are segmented with two legs per segment and usually brown or black. They can range anywhere from 2cm to about 5 cm long. Despite their name, millipedes don’t have thousands of legs each and in fact their leg count varies from species to species. Their legs make movement slow but their shape makes for easy burrowing beneath the soil.
What to Know Millipedes like to live outdoors. They prefer cool, damp weather and are frequently seen after rain in populated areas. They build their nests under piles of leaves, in flowerbeds, and around gardens but they can also be found underneath decks and outdoor storage sheds. They feed off of dead leaves and decaying wood. Millipedes live in every state in the U.S. but are particularly troublesome in wet climates such as those found in Washington and Oregon.
They tend to migrate in the fall to prepare for colder months, although they often seek higher ground when their original habitat has been flooded. Since millipedes lay their eggs in the soil they are constantly seeking a safe place to nest and spawn.
Signs of Infestation Infestations involving millipedes usually occur in crawlspaces or basements, particularly after very wet weather. Millipedes can live within structures for a long time undetected and often set up shop under boxes, boards, and in storage areas where they can be very active. They enter homes without being noticed through open doors, windows, and cracks in insulation but in many cases homeowners don’t realize they have a problem until they find millipedes nesting in large numbers. They leave no trace of their presence although some people say millipedes put off a distinct urea odor.
Treatment and Prevention The easiest way to prevent a millipede infestation is to make sure your home is tightly sealed. If you see a millipede, particularly if it’s coming up from a lower level of your home, you can assume there are more close by and should bring in a professional to help you treat the infestation. If there are only one or two millipedes present you can use a vacuum cleaner to quickly and effectively remove them. Of course, if the problem persists you’re advised to call a professional exterminator immediately.
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