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Millipedes

General Facts:

Millipedes are arthropods characterised by having two pairs of jointed legs on most body segments. Each double-legged segment is a result of two single segments fused together as one. Most millipedes have very elongated cylindrical or flattened bodies with more than 20 segments, while pill millipedes are shorter and can roll into a ball. Although the name "millipede" derives from the Latin for "thousand legs".

Most millipedes are slow-moving detritivores, eating decaying leaves and other dead plant matter. Some eat fungi or suck plant fluids, and a small minority are predatory. Millipedes are generally harmless to humans, although some can become household or garden pests, especially in greenhouses where they can cause severe damage to emergent seedlings. Most millipedes defend themselves with a variety of defensive chemicals secreted from pores along the body, although the tiny bristle millipedes are covered with tufts of detachable bristles. Reproduction in most species is carried out by modified male legs called gonopods which transfer packets of sperm to females.

Millipedes are some of the oldest known land animals, first appearing in the Silurian period. Some members of prehistoric groups grew to over 6 ft 7 in, while the largest modern species reach maximum lengths of 11 to 15 in. The longest extant species is the giant African millipede.

 

Control:

Millipedes that wander indoors usually die in a short time because of the dryness, and spraying cracks, crevices and room edges is not very useful. Sweeping or vacuuming up the invaders and discarding them is the most practical option.They are harmless; they do not feed upon building structures or furnishings and they can not bite or sting and they can’t reproduce indoors.

Controls for millipedes are aimed at keeping millipedes outdoors or reducing their numbers at the source. Cracks, gaps and other points of entry around windows and doors and in foundation walls should be sealed if possible. Removing organic matter such as plant mulch and dead leaves from against the house may help, and damp conditions around the house foundation should be corrected. Pesticides around the perimeter of the home will help reduce millipede numbers but won’t eliminate the problem.