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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis


Posted by John Fulton -

A common home invader this past week has been the millipede. Millipedes are hard shelled animals that are worm-like with many segments. They also curl up when disturbed. Most body segments have 2 pair of legs, except for the 3 behind the head. Adults are 1-2 inches long and can be brown, tan, or gray.

Most millipedes are scavengers. They feed on decaying organic matter such as leaves, compost, and grass clippings. They may sometimes injure small, young plants by feeding on the roots and tender plant parts, but this is rather rare.

When they enter the home in large numbers, they can become quite a nuisance. They do not bite, feed on clothing, or cause any real damage. They are simply a nuisance. Control of millipedes in the house is best accomplished by running the vacuum cleaner.

Most insecticides are not very effective against millipedes. The best way to prevent them from entering the home is to remove and discard accumulations of leaves, rocks, boards, and other trash from around the foundation of the house. Also, keep shrubbery and flower beds free of leaf mulch during the warm months.

Foundation sprays of permethrin or bifenthrin may have some effectiveness, but they may not provide satisfactory control. To apply these sprays, spray the foundation of the house and the adjacent foot of soil. In severe cases, you may need to expand the soil treatment area (and maybe spray the entire yard).

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