Archive for Sunday, October 24, 2004

Drying out moist areas helps eliminate millipedes

October 24, 2004


As the chill of fall moves in, a seasonal visitor is heading out in search of a more desirable habitat and becoming a nuisance in the process. Millipedes have begun to invade homes, garages, patios and front porches in search of warmth and dryness. Considered both a spring and a fall pest, the millipede is not harmful but merely in search of a place to take a long winter's nap.

So if you are one of the many being run over by millions of tiny legs, here is what you need to know about dealing with "thousand-legged" worms.

Millipedes are worm-like arthropod relatives of insects. Their brownish-black bodies are cylindrical and slightly flattened with many body segments. They can be distinguished from centipedes by the number of legs. Millipedes have four legs per segment, while centipedes have only two. The legs ripple as they move and may not be seen unless you view the insect from the side. As a defense mechanism, they often will curl up into a shape like a watch spring if touched.

Millipedes are part of Mother Nature's recycling program. They usually can be found in damp locations outside the home. Early spring rains can chase overwintering adults out of their hiding spots and into our homes and our lives. And then in the fall, their search for a safe warm hiding spot can once again bring them back. They feed primarily on decaying organic material and leaf litter and do not bite people or directly damage household furnishings. They will leave a mess and give off an odor if crushed.

Control begins by drying out moist areas and cleaning up debris and decaying organic material from around a structure. Removing their habitat can reduce their populations. To prevent them from coming inside, seal and caulk around foundation openings and around windows and doors.

Spraying insecticides that have the active ingredient cyfluthrin, proxopur or resmethrin in a three-foot band outside the house will take care of millipedes before they move in. However, do not be surprised if more adults appear in a few days as these chemicals do not have a long residual.

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