How To Get Rid of Millipedes (2022 Edition)

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There are over 12,000 species of millipedes, and chances are, you have seen a few around your home. They become pests due to their large numbers immediately after heavy rainfall. 

Because of that, it’s beneficial to have a plan for controlling them. After all, no one wants crawling bugs invading their home. 

In this informative guide to millipedes, you’ll discover:

  • How to Quickly Get Rid of These Unwanted Pests
  • How To Prevent Them From Returning
  • The Differences Between Millipedes and Centipedes
  • How To Tell if You Have an Infestation
Reviewed By:
Ed Spicer

Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!

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    How To Get Rid of Millipedes in Your Home 

    You do not have to be a licensed pest control technician to eliminate unwanted pests in your home. You just need the correct information. So with that, here are some top secret techniques the pros use to eliminate millipedes. 

    Vacuuming

    The simplest way of removing high populations of unwanted pests in your home is with a vacuum cleaner or shop vac. This method is effective for cleanouts of large infestations. Just be sure to replace the bag when you’re finished. 

    Lowering Humidity Levels

    Millipedes seek out cool, damp areas such as:

    • Basements
    • Crawl spaces
    • Plumbing entry points
    • Laundry rooms
    • Bathrooms

    To lower humidity levels in the home, consider the following:

    • Install exhaust fans in all bathrooms
    • Place dehumidifiers throughout the home 
    • Consider upgrading to central air conditioning
    • Install ceiling fans to help circulate airflow through the entire home

    Trapping Millipedes

    Utilize mice glue traps to capture millipedes and other crawling pests. They’re also useful for monitoring active infestations. 

    For maximum coverage, place glue traps in these locations:

    • Basements
    • Crawl spaces
    • Attics
    • Storage rooms
    • Laundry room
    • Behind toilets

    Be sure to fold glue boards per label instructions to provide protection from curious children and pets. Also, it is best to replace these traps regularly since dirt and dust render them ineffective over time. 

    Diatomaceous Earth Treatments

    Diatomaceous earth is a natural pesticide made from diatoms mined from dry lake beds. It offers long-term control of crawling pests through desiccation

    Although it’s non-toxic, you should use a respirator when applying diatomaceous earth as well as other insecticide dusts

    You will need a bulb duster or hand duster with a narrow tip to apply it inside your home. When using dry dust material in humid climates, be sure to only fill the duster halfway. 

    Also, place four to five small jagged rocks in with the diatomaceous earth. Then, shake the duster frequently to keep the powder from clumping together. 

    Here are the instructions for treating millipedes using diatomaceous earth:

    1. Pipe entry points under sinks. Place the tip of the duster into the hole where the plumbing pipes enter through the flooring. Give the duster a few gentle squeezes to send the diatomaceous earth into the area under the flooring. 
    2. Pipe entries behind toilets. Pull the cover plate back as far as it will go to expose the pipe entry point. Give a few light puffs of dust to send the material into the wall void or the area under the flooring. 
    3. Plumbing access doors. Open the plumbing access door to expose the pipes. Place the extension tip of the duster into the opening and close the door, creating a gap the width of the tip. Seal the gap around the door with masking tape. Next, gently squeeze the hand duster twice to send a small amount of dust into the void. Wait a few minutes before removing the tape, recovering the duster, and closing the door. 
    4. Other areas. Apply small amounts of diatomaceous earth underneath appliances, within utility spaces, behind fireplace mantles, window sills, and door jambs. 

    Safety Precautions When Using Diatomaceous Earth

    1. Never use insecticide dust around electrical outlets. The metal duster tip could accidentally cause an electrical shock. 
    2. Be careful not to over-apply the material, especially to cracks and crevices. Over application could render the product ineffective. 
    3. Always use a respirator, especially when broadcast dusting large areas such as attics and crawl spaces.
    4. Keep children and pets away from treated areas for at least two hours.

    Silica Gels

    Unlike diatomaceous earth, silica gels are synthetic compounds manufactured for various industrial purposes. The most common use is to protect cameras and lenses from excess moisture during shipping. 

    In recent years, the pest control industry has discovered it as an economical solution for eliminating pests. Silica gels are similar to diatomaceous earth and have the same dry consistency after being crushed. 

    Silica gels are now available for home use and typically come in a handy squeeze bottle for convenience. However, it’s best to only utilize them for crack and crevice applications. Also, since these products can affect the lungs, a dust mask is required while working with silica gels. 

    Pesticide Sprays

    Treating the perimeter of your home with residual sprays proves effective at eliminating all sorts of unwanted pests. In this case, be sure to choose one that is labeled for millipedes. 

    The most popular products contain the active ingredient lambda-cyhalothrin. Others utilize the powerful knockdown ability of bifenthrin. Both are concentrates you mix in a gallon sprayer.

    To apply a barrier treatment, follow these basic instructions: 

    1. Spray the outer perimeter of the home where the foundation and the ground meet. A 10-foot-wide band will provide ample coverage. 
    2. Adjust the spray nozzle for areas around windows, doors, eaves, overhangs, vents, and service line entry points. Try to use no more than a two-foot band to limit pesticide drift. 
    3. Employ a 24-inch spot treatment for areas under sinks, behind appliances, and in basements.
    4. Be sure to spot-treat underneath steps, entryways, and door thresholds. 

    Spraying baseboards is useless since the insecticide gets washed off with regular mopping. Also, it’s best to avoid spraying wood trim and baseboards in living rooms since the liquid tends to warp the wood. In addition, it could stain the carpet as well. 

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    How To Prevent Millipedes 

    Sanitation Measures for Millipedes

    Millipedes are scavengers and will eat almost anything, especially if it is rotting or decaying. Generally, the same measures you use to control flies around your home are also effective for millipedes. 

    The following are some common examples to limit the millipede’s food sources:

    1. Remove compost piles and grass clippings from your yard regularly.
    2. Clean up any yard waste and relocate woodpiles at least 20 feet away from the structure.
    3. Be sure all trash cans have secure lids.
    4. Remove rotting organic matter, especially in moist areas.

    Reduce Access to Moisture

    1. Clean gutters regularly to prevent water from backing up.
    2. Make sure all downspouts around the house are free from debris.
    3. Avoid overwatering grass, trees, and outdoor plants.
    4. Repair all leaky outdoor faucets and hose bibs. 
    5. Set sprinkler systems on a timer and make sure they are in good condition.

    Limit Millipede Habitat

    You can find millipedes in almost any type of environment, including:

    • Forests
    • Caves
    • Prairies
    • Deserts

    For yards with grass, millipedes are found in thatch, the layer of organic material between the grass and the soil. In desert environments, they typically nest under rocks. 

    No matter where their hiding places are, almost all millipede species are attracted to rotting plant matter along with animal feces and decomposing waste. 

    For that reason, it is best to clean up after pets regularly. Also, remove mulch and leaf litter from your yard to limit the millipede’s hiding places. 

    Seal Them Out

    DIY homeowners can keep out millipedes using simple tools and supplies around the home. Here, we supply the steps to achieve the best possible results:

    1. Repair cracks in foundation walls using liquid cement or epoxy sealant.
    2. Close pipe entry points with steel wool or expansion foam.
    3. Replace worn weather stripping around windows and doors.
    4. Caulk door jambs and window sills with caulking compound.
    5. Seal cracks in drywall using spackle or putty.

    Chemical Repellents

    Granules containing bifenthrin help control millipedes year-round. Place some along the perimeter of patios, working your way out toward the fenceline. This technique reduces pest populations while drawing them away from living spaces. 

    Boric acid applied indoors can work well to repel millipedes. However, it is best to restrict its use to cracks and crevices. Broadcast treatments are not advised since it is somewhat stronger than diatomaceous earth. 

    Natural Repellents

    Natural pest repellents are available for millipedes. While there is little science behind the efficacy of essential oils as pesticides, many people swear by them. 

    Tea tree oil and peppermint seem to be the most effective. Try finding a product that is already premixed and ready to apply. Many come in a convenient spray bottle for easy application. 

    Spray them in the same areas you would for traditional chemical insecticides. However, since natural repellents are not as strong, you may have to repeat treatments every week before experiencing lasting results. 

    Female millipedes lay between 10 and 100 eggs at a time on moist soil or decomposing organic matter. In addition, many species protect them within cocoon-like structures. 

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    How To Identify Millipedes

    Characteristics

    Millipedes are round, wormlike arthropods that vary depending on where you find them. For example, woodland millipedes are often dark brown, whereas desert varieties sometimes have a lighter tan color to match their sandy environments. 

    Each species also varies in length, with the longest being over 13 inches. That being the case, the average house millipede is only about one to three inches in length. 

    Life Cycle

    Female millipedes lay between 10 and 100 eggs at a time on moist soil or decomposing organic matter. In addition, many species protect them within cocoon-like structures. 

    The eggs hatch within a few weeks. After that, the young will molt several times while growing new segments, up to 20 in some species.

    Telling Millipedes From Centipedes

    It can be a challenge to tell the difference between millipedes and centipedes. That is why we explain the contrasts between each one in detail for you here. 

    Bodies

    The millipede has a tubular body, while the centipede is typically flat. Both, however, can be almost any variety of colors, depending on the species.

    Antennae 

    Millipedes have short antennae. In contrast, since centipedes are hunters, they require longer antennae to discover potential prey. 

    Legs 

    The millipede has two pairs of legs on all segments except for one. That is why they never have an even number of sets. 

    Centipedes, on the other hand, have one pair of legs per body segment. That goes for almost all species. 

    Locomotion 

    Centipedes run fast due to having long legs, and millipedes have short legs used for burrowing. For that reason, millipedes typically move slower than centipedes. 


    Are Millipedes Harmful? 

    Millipedes are harmless to humans. Moreover, they are not very adept at combat. Instead, they curl into a ball as a defensive move to thwart predators. 

    Millipedes do not eat wood or destroy homes. While some larger varieties are known to damage live plants, they are not found in the U.S. or North America. 

    Signs & Causes of a Millipede Infestation  

    Seeing a few millipedes here and there does not necessarily indicate an infestation. However, it is possible to witness over 100 underneath a piece of plywood. Still, witnessing that many in your home is highly unlikely.

    Millipedes occasionally invade buildings when the weather becomes too hot and dry. However, they can move indoors during the cold winter months as well. They live up to three years and can go unnoticed since they inhabit dark, tight spaces. 

    Millipedes overwinter as eggs. In the spring, they take cover in yard mulch and decaying plant matter. They also favor spaces between rocks, tree bark, and lumber. 

    Additionally, millipedes are constantly seeking sources of water. Therefore, you will often notice them in basements, pool equipment boxes, and near downspouts that are not properly routed.


    Last Word on Millipedes

    It is important to remember that millipedes are just one of many pests you can encounter on your property. The good news is that the majority of pest control companies include these creepy crawlers in their annual contracts, along with:

    • Cockroaches
    • Ants
    • Spiders
    • Crickets
    • Mice 
    • Other common pests

    Having an expert show up regularly to your home ensures these and other pests do not return. Still, it’s vital to hire a qualified exterminator you can trust. 

    Be sure to check online referrals. Also, it’s a good idea to consult your local Better Business Bureau. Lastly, make sure the company you select is licensed, bonded, and insured in your state. 

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