Millipedes might be scary for most people, especially due to their numerous legs. Despite this, millipedes, in fact, prefer to live outdoor rather than invading houses. Although they might seem as venomous as centipedes do, millipedes do not sting nor bite, and they do not possess any harmful venom. Outdoors, millipedes feed on decayed organic matters, such as logs, decayed woods, and other organic debris. To maintain their body moisture, millipedes live in covered damp areas, such as on the soil covered by a pile of leaves, in decayed logs and trunks, and in water gutters. A moist environment is very important for millipedes since they do not have shells to protect their soft body. As the result, they are prone to extreme dehydration which may eventually lead them to death when there is no sufficient humidity. This is also the reason why millipedes get into houses and might infest it in a large number. One or two millipedes should not be a major problem and can be easily gotten rid of. However, a large infestation can be a nuisance and thus, should be immediately treated.
Locations to check
Both outdoor and indoor, millipedes can possibly be a nuisance. Hence, in order to prevent major infestation, especially in extreme season such as winter, it is better to check some areas prone to millipede invasion. This arthropod infests a place in order to find foods and shelter. If millipedes are found inside the house, it means your house is moist enough and provides sufficient warmth during winter. Although millipedes do not commonly live indoor, under certain circumstances—extreme temperature drops, uninhabited house areas, and house moves, you might want to check for its infestation at some places around the house, such as:
- Damp attic
- Basement with a lot of damp card boxes
- Rainwater gutter
- Outdoor and indoor faucets—garden watering system and indoor sinks
- Walls crevices and cracks
- Damp soil with pile of leaves and organic matters
How to get rid of millipedes
When it comes to a big millipede infestation, the effects can be disturbing. Millipedes in a small number will not be a problem, since they are a decomposing agent feeding on decayed organic matters, instead of living critters. They are also not venomous and will not likely to sting or bite. However, some homeowners do have an experience with hundreds of millipedes invading the house during winter. In a case that this is what you are experiencing, you might want to perform some methods of killing millipedes, such as:
- Killing millipedes with Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
This white crawling insect killer powder microscopically injures insects and dehydrate them within 24 hours, and is very useful for getting rid of garden-infesting millipedes. If you plan to use DE for removing millipede infestation indoor, choose the one which is labeled “food grade”, meaning it is non-toxic for both humans and pets.
To use DE for killing millipedes, spread it liberally across the damp soil and covered areas in the garden. You can also spread this near the roots of plantations, in which millipedes may reside. Indoor, treat wall crevices and cracks using this white powder to kill existing multi-legged crawling insects and thus, prevent further and future infestation.
- Killing millipedes by vacuuming
Sucking millipedes with a vacuum cleaner is also effective in getting rid of this critter inside the house. Dispose vacuumed millipedes and make sure they are killed by soaking them in a bucket of soapy water. Vacuuming, if you have found out their nesting place, will be effective to remove not only adult millipedes but also their hatchlings.
- Killing millipedes with insecticides
You should choose to kill millipedes using chemical insecticides as the option when the other more natural treatments do not work very well—in a case of large infestation, for instance. If you find out that millipedes reside in an excessively humid area, control this humidity prior to applying the pesticides, as it may not work well in the moist environment. Choose pesticides with ingredients work as a dehydrating agent or poisoning agents, such as propoxur, cyfluthrin, pyrethrins, piperonyl butoxide, and silica gel.
Performing millipede exclusion
While killing millipedes might not be complicated, keeping them at the bay should be more humane and effective. To keep millipedes in their habitat outdoor, you might want to consider these things:
Control outdoor and indoor moisture
To control outdoor moisture:
- Trim grasses, bushes, and tree branches which are too dense and cover certain areas from direct sunlight. This is important since millipedes tend to find a hiding place with excessive moisture and shades.
- Water the lawn in considerable amount. Avoid deep watering it too frequently, as it might contribute to its humidity, resulting in some damp areas which can be a perfect spot for millipedes to nest.
- Water the lawn and plantations in the morning to make sure it dries before dark. Millipedes are nocturnal, and moist soil at night will definitely attract them.
- Check rainwater gutter outside the house. Remove left rain water and decayed leaves to eliminate the possible hiding place for millipedes.
- Check garden faucets to make sure that they do not drip and moisten the soil under them.
To control indoor moisture:
- For daily moisture control, use a dehumidifier or air conditioner which is placed in the room with excessive humidity.
- For small crawl spaces, unventilated wardrobes, and other susceptible smaller spaces, you can use wrapped food-grade silica gels to absorb excessive humidity. Place several pieces of wrapped silica gels and replace them once in two weeks.
- Check the basement and attic, since these are commonly the places with damp spots and excessive moisture, which can be a perfect sanctuary for millipedes. Expose the places to open air by opening its doors and windows once in every couple of days. Put dehumidifier or jars of silica gel to absorb humidity inside the places.
Seal off possible entries
Millipedes generally live outdoor, although some circumstances might bring them inside the house. To avoid this, do several actions which keep millipedes at the bay, such as:
- Make sure doors and windows fit tightly, and there are no spaces between the window or door and its frame.
- Cover windows and ventilations with fine wire mesh to inhibit crawling insects from coming into the house.
- Caulk cracks and crevices on the walls and woods around the house.
Reduce clusters indoor and outdoor
Aside from moisture, clutters piled indoor and outdoor can be a perfect hiding place for millipedes. Thus, to minimize the possibility of attracted millipedes, reduce clusters inside and outside the house by considering some things:
- Avoid storing things inside card boxes in the attic or basement. Card boxes are not waterproof and instead, they absorb water, creating a moist environment which is perfect for millipedes.
- In the garden, avoid storing decayed leaves and other plant debris in a certain area, since the soil beneath this compost might be very damp with excessive moisture.
Natural millipede remedies
Performing millipede pest control can also be done using folk remedies, which are not only more affordable but also possess fewer side effects to the environment. Diatomaceous earth discussed previously is one of the most effective natural remedies for controlling millipede infestation. Other folk remedies which have been known to be able to repel and kill millipedes include:
- Boric acid
Boric acid comes in a powdered structure, which has a similar direction of use to diatomaceous earth. It works by slicing insect’s exoskeleton as well as giving them digestion problems. Boric acid is also contained in dish soaps. Hence, a mixture of 3 spoons dish soap with a bottle of water can be sprayed to perform millipede pest control. This solution can also be used to get rid of existing millipedes residing in tight spaces and crevices.
- Soil drying agents
Millipedes lay their eggs in moist soil. Thus, promoting dry soil will be beneficial in minimizing the risk of millipede infestation. Use dry wood ash or ground egg shells to be mulch with damp soil in the garden in order to dry it out.
Natural predators should be an effective solution against millipede colonies outdoor. Chickens have been a conventional solution for millipede infestation. They feed on them and other pest insects and bugs. If you have a supportive lawn or yard for raising chickens, you might want to consider raising two or three chickens to perform a natural pest control. However, this treatment is needed should you encounter large millipede infestation. Small infestation should be treated by other natural methods, since raising chickens is not necessarily simple.