Although the sight of an insect with more legs than we care to count before running away is extremely unsettling, the good news is that millipedes are mostly harmless and more of a nuisance pest than anything.
Millipedes, the “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” runners of the insect world, boast a series of body segments, each having two pairs of legs. This makes them quite efficient at scuttling around, but not quickly like centipedes.
They vary in size, from a modest few millimeters to a considerable size of up to five inches. Typically, these insects sport a brown or black exoskeleton, making them masters of camouflage in their natural habitat to hide from predators.
A common misconception is that millipedes have a thousand legs - thus earning them the prefix of their name, but as far as has been documented, this isn’t true. Some species come close, but so far this is not the case.
Millipedes are detritivores, which means they have a hearty appetite for dead organic matter. As recyclers of the ecosystem, they play an essential role in breaking down organic matter, making them nature's clean-up crew.
The millipede life cycle begins when eggs are laid, which hatch into larvae. These youngsters then transform into adults through a series of molts.
Millipedes come in a variety of forms, from round or flat bodies, to even some species being coated in fur. Some millipedes have been seen to roll up their bodies in an attempt to defend themselves from predators much like rolly-pollys.
These long-legged buddies have quite the adaptable nature, calling forests, gardens, and even our homes their stomping grounds. You'll find them most commonly in moist, humid environments - they love a little dampness in their dwelling.
These also make great additions to any terrarium hobbyist for a balanced ecosystem.
While millipedes aren't considered a severe pest, they can become quite a nuisance when they decide to stage a home invasion in large numbers. They also have a peculiar defense mechanism: they secrete a foul-smelling liquid when disturbed. So, if you've got a case of millipedes in the house, you might want to handle it with care.
In most cases though, millipedes are harmless to humans as their mouthparts are not big enough to administer a noticeable bite against humans.
How can I get rid of millipedes?
If you're dealing with a millipede infestation, here's what you can do:
Seal any cracks and holes in your home
Keep moisture levels in your home under control
Use desiccants like diatomaceous earth
How do millipedes get into my home?
Millipedes sneak into homes through cracks and holes in the foundation, open windows and doors, or even hitch a ride on firewood. Given their preference for moist, humid environments, you'll notice millipedes in North Carolina homes more often during the spring and summer months.
How do I identify a millipede?
Look out for long, segmented insects that have two pairs of legs per segment. They're generally brown or black. Also, if you find a bug that curls up into a ball when disturbed, you might just have found a millipede - these are usually larger than rolly-pollys!
If you're dealing with a serious millipede situation, it might be time to call in the professionals. A pest control company with expertise in millipede control can help resolve your millipede troubles quickly and effectively.
To keep millipedes at bay, here's some bonus tips that you can do:
Keep your home clean and free of debris
Resist the urge to bring firewood into your home from outside or at least thoroughly check it.
I hope you've found this dive into the world of millipedes informative. If you're dealing with millipedes in Charlotte, or anywhere else in North Carolina, remember, there are ways to prevent and control the situation.