Are millipedes ten times faster than centipedes? While that joke got a lot of laughs on the internet, having them in your house is no joke. Here’s how to get rid of millipedes in your house, garden and more
While millipedes are very beneficial in the garden, you likely won’t be so thrilled to find them indoors.
Most species of millipedes are harmless to humans and pets, but no one likes creepy crawlies moving around their homes.
Especially during the rainy season, it’s not uncommon for them to leave their usual outdoor habitats and move indoors.
If you are here to learn how to get rid of millipedes, stick around and go through this article.
Where Do Millipedes Come From?
If you suddenly start finding millipedes in your home, you might wonder where they’re coming from, especially if you never noticed them around your home.
Well, millipedes are more common than you think; they just stay out of sight most of the time. These soil-dwelling organisms typically live underground or underneath stones, logs, and mulch.
They typically prefer dark and moist environments. They’re easy to identify – they have numerous body segments, and each body segment comes with two pairs of legs, adding up to hundreds of legs in total.
In the United States, these bugs are found in every state, including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Overall, out of the 7,000 species of millipedes, nearly 20% live in America.
Why Do I Have Millipedes in My House?
If you have millipedes in your house, it’s usually due to the weather. Heavy rains can fill up their living spaces under rocks and logs, forcing them to find a safer place.
Similarly, too little or no rain can turn the soil dry and cause them to move into homes where they can find some moisture.
How Do Millipedes Get in the House?
So, how do millipedes make their way inside your house in the first place? Well, you should keep in mind that while millipedes cannot fly, they’re great at crawling along vertical walls.
They can simply crawl up the exterior wall of your home and look for a place to enter.
Usually, millipedes enter homes through ground-level windows and doors, air vents, crawl space vents, garage doors, and cracks or crevices.
They’re especially drawn to your home if there are damp areas and decaying organic materials nearby.
How To Get Rid of Millipedes in House?
Let’s now explore how to get rid of millipedes indoors:
Leave them be
Usually, a millipede infestation doesn’t need any major treatments as they don’t survive more than a few days in dry indoor conditions.
Moreover, you don’t have to worry about the millipedes multiplying as they don’t lay eggs indoors. You can just wait them out for a few days, as the infestation won’t last long.
If you come across millipedes crawling around, you can just pick them up by hand or sweep them out with a broom.
However, it’s best not to touch them directly as some species of millipedes produce irritating fluids in defense and can trigger allergic reactions.
Although this is more of a last resort, you may also use bug sprays. In addition to spraying the millipedes, create a bug barrier by spraying possible entry points. Make sure to use a bug spray that’s safe for indoor application.
How To Prevent Millipedes From Entering House?
Even if you get rid of the millipedes that were in your house, there’s always a chance that they can make a comeback. Here’s how you can prevent millipedes from entering your house in the future:
- Use caulk or other sealants to seal openings that aren’t supposed to be there, such as cracks in the exterior wall.
- Equip a door sweep under your exterior doors so that the millipedes can’t crawl underneath them to enter.
- Remember, millipedes are attracted to excess moisture. Use a dehumidifier or a sump pump to dry your home’s basement walls, foundation, and crawl spaces.
- Keep the surroundings of your home clean of mulch, grass clippings, wood particles, leaf litter, and other plant materials.
- Repair leaky air conditioning units, faucets, and water pipes.
How Long Does a Millipede Infestation Last?
Millipede infestations are rather short-lived and usually last less than a week, sometimes even a few hours.
This is because the dry environment inside a home isn’t suitable for them and they can’t survive more than a few days. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, they don’t reproduce indoors either.
How To Kill Millipedes?
Although millipede infestations aren’t too severe, you might have no choice but to kill them if there are too many of them. As mentioned earlier, manual removal or the use of bug sprays is usually enough.
However, you can also use various other organic pest treatment methods, such as using neem oil, diatomaceous earth, boric acid, etc.
If you’d prefer to remove millipedes without killing them, you may also use traps instead.
Does Epsom Salt Kill Millipedes?
Comprising magnesium, sulfur, and water, Epsom Salt is quite useful to gardeners.
Besides being beneficial to plant health, Epsom salt also has insecticidal properties and helps repel various pests.
However, if you are thinking about using Epsom salt to eliminate millipedes, it won’t work. Epsom salt does not kill them; you’ll have to use other methods.
Will Vinegar Kill Millipedes?
Vinegar is another common natural insecticide and pest repellent that works well against a variety of bugs. You may use apple cider vinegar to kill or repel millipedes in your home.
The fact that vinegar is a common kitchen ingredient also makes it an easily available solution against millipedes.
You may also use vinegar to clean up stains left behind by crushed millipedes and get rid of their smell.
Will Baking Soda Kill Millipedes?
It’s a common misconception that baking soda can kill millipedes.
Applying baking soda to millipede-infested places seems to work only because it eliminates the foul smell excreted by millipedes.
However, the millipedes are still there; you just won’t smell them anymore.
Does Soapy Water Kill Millipedes?
Yes, soapy water can kill most crawling insects, including millipedes. However, keep in mind that not all soap and water solutions work against millipedes.
Detergent wouldn’t be effective against them – you need to use dish soap. Create a 50-50 solution of water and dish soap and spray it over the millipedes.
You may also pour the soapy water solution into infested areas and wash them to keep away the bugs.
Does DE Kill Millipedes?
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is one of the most effective natural pesticides and works well against millipedes.
You may sprinkle this crystalline powdery substance in and around areas where millipedes are likely to hide or pass through.
The crystals can easily pierce into their exoskeletons, causing micro punctures. Once the DE enters their body, it starts dehydrating them from the inside and eventually kills them.
This substance isn’t harmful to humans and is safe for indoor use.
Does Boric Acid Kill Millipedes?
Working in a way similar to DE, boric acid is effective in removing millipedes as well.
It enters the body of pests crawling over it by cutting through the exoskeleton.
In addition to causing dehydration, boric acid also hampers the digestive system of millipedes and other pests.
This allows it to kill them faster than the diatomaceous earth. However, boric acid isn’t as nontoxic as DE and you shouldn’t use it around kids or pets.
Does Neem Oil Kill Millipedes in Houseplants?
If you have houseplants at home, it’s quite likely that they might attract millipedes. Treating houseplants with neem oil is a great way to eliminate various bugs, including millipedes.
Neem oil treatment is easy – just mix it with water and use a spray bottle to spray the solution over your plants.
However, while neem oil is very effective, it works very slowly. It might take multiple treatments to get rid of millipedes using neem oil.
How To Get Rid of Millipedes Home Remedy?
Simple home remedies to make your home an unsuitable habitat for millipedes can be enough to get rid of them and eliminate the need for pest control solutions.
Remember – millipedes are always attracted to places with excess moisture. Fixing water leaks and keeping your home dry should help keep them away.
You should be careful about areas that are usually damp, such as the basement and around your kitchen sink.
Also, get rid of plant debris, mulch, boxes, etc. from the surroundings of your home’s foundation. Keep your compost and trash secure, and avoid over-fertilizing your lawn.
How To Get Rid of Millipedes in Soil?
Before you start working on removing millipedes from the soil, you should bear in mind that these soil-dwelling organisms are quite beneficial.
They are natural recyclers and help decompose decaying organic matter. However, too many millipedes can pose a problem, especially if they start damaging your plants.
You can try out the following solutions:
- DE: As mentioned earlier, diatomaceous earth is an extremely effective natural pesticide that can help you kill millipedes. Just sprinkle it over the soil, especially around your flower beds.
- Natural predators: If possible, try to attract natural predators like frogs and toads and build bird feeders to attract birds. They will help keep the millipede population in control.
- Changing the soil: If you are dealing with a heavy millipede infestation in potting soil, you may consider transplanting your plant. Alternatively, you can just empty the pot and refill it with clean soil.
- Pesticides: Of course, spraying pesticides on the soil can kill millipedes too. You should keep chemical pesticides as a last resort as they often have various side effects and may kill other beneficial organisms too.
Frequently asked questions
How To Get Rid of Millipedes in Basement?
You should start by fixing any water leaks and drying up the basement since the damp environment is the main reason why you have millipedes there in the first place.
In the absence of moisture, the millipedes will die within a few days.
How To Get Rid of Greenhouse Millipede?
If you have millipedes infesting your greenhouse, consider treating your plants with neem oil or essential oils to repel them.
You can also sprinkle diatomaceous earth or boric acid to kill them. These agents work by removing water from their body, ultimately dehydrating and killing them from the inside.
How To Keep Millipedes Away?
Keeping millipedes away isn’t too hard – just keep your home clean and dry.
Trim the grass around your home and keep the surroundings free of decaying organic matter like plant debris.
If you still find millipedes coming into your home, seal up potential entry points.
What is the fastest way to get rid of millipedes?
The fastest way to get rid of millipedes is to simply use a bug spray or other chemical insecticides.
However, it’s best to try natural methods like DE, neem oil, and manual removal first, unless you are in a hurry to eliminate the millipedes as fast as possible.
The millipede is mostly just a nuisance pest and rarely causes any noticeable damage to plants.
Unless you can’t stand their presence at all or there are too many of them, you don’t have to go into a lot of trouble to get rid of them.
Maintaining adequate ventilation and a dry environment indoors should be enough to keep them away most of the time.
Over the years, we have received many emails asking about various types of millipedes and how to get rid of them.
Sample some of the huge variety of millipedes people have found in their gardens, yards and homes.
Letter 1 – Yellow Spotted Millipedes
millipedes in Muir Woods
Hi there –
My partner and I and my four year old son saw these millipedes today in Muir Woods National Monument north of San Francisco, hiding among the mosses and rotting leaves with banana slugs and other creatures that love the old growth. They were around 2-3 inches long, about half an inch wide. They seem pretty distinguishable with the yellow spots and all, and seem like they’d attract attention, but we haven’t been able to find out what they are. Thanks much!
We found a match on Bugguide for your Yellow-spotted Millipede, Harpaphe haydeniana. The are relatively common in the rain forrests of the Pacific Northwest.
Expert Confirmation: (01/20/2008) Millipede IDs 6/24/06 . Muir Woods, CA. Harpaphe haydeniana (Cook) (Polydesmida: Xystodesmidae).
North Carolina State Museum of Natural Science
Letter 2 – Millipede
I promise this is the last…
I promise this is the last thing I will send. I was going to ask what this gorgeous guy was. I found it at Jacks River Fields while camping. Jacks River Fields is located close to where Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina come together. It just outside of Blue Ridge, GA in North GA. It was July, and it was just hanging out next to our camp site.
Thank you again!
We believe this is a Pill Millipede in the Order Polydesmida. Its pink coloration is new to us as we are used to seeing photos of yellow specimens. They can secrete cyanide as a defense mechanism.
WTB, you guys have a wonderful site! Something I really admire about you guys is that you’re more than willing to post corrections to identifications you have made. The pink millipede that was posted on your site is not a pill millipede. Pill millipedes are much shorter and are called such because they are able to curl up into a nearly perfect sphere resembling a pill ( http://www.intenseherp.com/images/SH0001_3.jpg ). I was looking to ID the pink flat-backed millipede and came up with this: http://bugguide.net/node/view/37831/bgimage Hope this helps. Thanks for the great site!
Thanks for the assistance Nick.
Update: (01/20/2008) Millipede IDs
6/3/06 Jacks River Falls ,GA. Sigmoria sp. (Polydesmida: Xystodesmidae). Can tell species from photo.
North Carolina State Museum of Natural Science
Letter 3 – Rusty Millipede
What’s this centipede/millipede?
Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
November 7, 2010 8:37 pm
Hello! I’ve lived in the same house for 3 years now and just started seeing these bugs around in the last year. (S. Florida, Ft. Lauderdale) I think it’s odd that I did not see them for the first 2 years we lived here. The largest ones are about 2-2.5 inches long and about the diameter of a pencil. They curl up into a ball when startled but will also crawl over my hand easily. I grew up in this area and don’t recall seeing them in any other house I’ve lived in. I live in a single family home in a well-maintained residental neighborhood. We do have a canal in the backyard (but so did other houses I lived in). Thank you!
Signature: Jen from S. Florida
We did not have an opportunity to post your letter on the day it arrived, and we decided to try to research your questions this morning. We learned on BugGuide that this is a Rusty Millipede, Trigoniulus corallinus, and that it is an imported species from Asia according to a comment by Rowland Shelley on BugGuide. We would like to research this a bit more to find out when it was introduced and how far it has spread in North America. Right now, BugGuide only reports it from Florida. Though we do not have access to the entire article, BioOne indicates that an article entitled INTRODUCTION OF THE MILLIPED, TRIGONIULUS CORALLINUS (GERVAIS, 1847) (SPIROBOLIDA: TRIGONIULIDAE), IN FLORIDA, U.S.A was published in Entomological News in 2005.
Letter 4 – Worm Millipede
Location: Frederick County, Maryland
October 19, 2013 8:08 am
Hi. Saw this guy up on the rocks in the mountain – Frederick County Reservoir Area, Maryland. Friday, October 18, 2013. He was at least four inches long. Moving fairly fast …
We believe we have correctly identified your Millipede as a Worm Millipede AKA American Giant Millipede, Narceus americanus-annularis-complex, which BugGuide describes as: “Usually dark reddish-brown with red edges on each segment. The most commonly-seen large millipede in its range.” We were searching through interesting, recent, unanswered requests so that we could postdate a few submissions to go live in early November while when we will be away from the office.
Letter 5 – Millipedes in Potted Plant
Subject: Worm-like pests in potted plant
Location: New York
January 3, 2014 8:28 am
I noticed so many worm-like pests in my potted house plants.
Please can you identify them and let me know if they are harmful to the plants or us?
Signature: Anil Antony
These are not worms, but rather Millipedes in the class Diplopoda, creatures with two pairs of legs on each body segment. Millipedes are generally benign creatures. According to BugGuide: “Most eat decaying plant material, but a few spp. occasionally can be carnivorous. Some may also occasionally eat living plants.” We believe they are Flat-Backed Millipedes in the order Polydesmida. According to BugGuide, they have “18 to 22 body rings” which is what we have counted on the specimens in your photo. BugGuide also notes of the Flat-Backed Millipedes: “The largest millipede order, and the only one that produces cyanide as a defense.” The amount of cyanide that would be released by a single threatened Millipede would not have much of an effect on humans. They were most likely introduced to the potted plant at the nursery. Since these millipedes are in indoor plants, you might want to consider controlling them. We do not provide extermination advice.
Letter 6 – Possibly Dead Millipede in the basement
Subject: Help identify please
Location: Twin Falls Idaho
February 3, 2014 10:45 pm
Found these shell like things on the carpet in my basement found 3 or 4 but never found any bugs or anything with them yet.
This looks to us like a dead Millipede that has broken in half. Millipedes are generally found in damp, dark places, and they are frequently found in basements.
Letter 7 – Millipede from Hawaii
Subject: Purple and white millipede
Location: Big Island, Hawaii
December 13, 2016 4:47 pm
I was hoping you could help me identify this millipede, which was wandering around on a dirt road at the northern tip of the Big Island, Hawaii. I see lots of rusty millipedes in this area, but this is the first time I’ve seen one like this. It appears to be a purplish color with those broad white stripes along its back. Its antennae are also striped. It’s about an inch long.
I found a couple of photos online, including one on your site (2010/01/10/millipede-from-hawaii/), but no ID. Any help would be much appreciated.
We are not certain your Millipede is the same as the one in our archives, though the markings do look similar. BugGuide has an unidentified Millipede from Hawaii that looks just like your individual. We haven’t had any luck finding out anything else.
Thanks for the response. I saw the BugGuide photo too, but since they don’t officially cover Hawaii, their IDs are a bit hit and miss for here. I guess I’ll have to keep looking. I’ll let you know if I get a positive ID.
Letter 8 – Evidence of Millipedes
Subject: Ring shaped bugs
Location: Glendale wisconsin
February 21, 2017 10:45 am
Hi, we recently moved to the Milwaukee area. When we first bought the house I found these ring shaped bug carcass..never any actual bugs. I thought that once we cleaned up (the house had been vacant for awhile) that it would be the end of them. But they keep showing up…not in the kitchen or bathroom, but mostly in the living room. None in the basement…can you tell me what they are? No other signs of critters in the house. Thanks
We can’t tell from your image if you have found Millipede exoskeletons or the remains of dead Millipedes. They are generally associated with moist conditions.
Letter 9 – Remains of Millipedes
Subject: Caterpillar ID
Location: Schoharie County NY
June 4, 2017 4:55 pm
I live in rural upstate NY. I’ve seen a couple of these hanging on tree bark. I initially think they are alive, but then I realize I’m looking at what seems to be an exoskeleton. Could you please ID it for me?
Signature: Dottie Mueller
This is not a Caterpillar. We believe they are the remains of dead Millipedes. It is possible that they were preyed upon by Glowworms. We do not believe they are the result of normal molting, but we would not discount that possibility.
Letter 10 – Millipede Invasion in Pennsylvania
Subject: Hundreds of caterpillars
Geographic location of the bug: Hershey, pa
Time: 09:38 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: hi, I went out to my garden this evening around 9:30 and found these bugs walking all over my raised beds and up the walls of my house. I didn’t see any on my plants. they are small, very skinny about three-quarter inch to an inch long.What are they?
How you want your letter signed: Skaterma
These are not Caterpillars. They are Millipedes. Here is an Iowa State University article on Millipedes where it states: “Millipedes are harmless. They can not bite or sting and they do not feed on structures, furnishings or landscape plants. They do feed on damp and decaying plant material and are ecologically beneficial as “recyclers” of organic matter. They live outdoors in damp areas such as under leaves, needles, plant debris, mulch and similar habitats.
The bad news is millipedes often embark on mass migrations, especially on humid, warm nights in the fall and spring, during which time they wander into garages, basements and other parts of the house. All millipedes found inside have strayed in by mistake from breeding sites in the vicinity. Millipedes can not reproduce indoors.
Millipedes are most active at night. They wander out from their damp hiding places and roam aimlessly, often covering large distances with their slow, steady crawl. They are not drawn to garages and houses nor are they searching for anything in particular (food, warmth, mates, etc.).
Wandering millipedes eventually bump into the house where they find small gaps or cracks. They crawl into these small openings as a shelter from the dryness of the coming daytime. Millipedes hide during the day under the bottom edge of the garage door, in cracks along the house, sidewalk or driveway and in gaps in the foundation. Openings in the foundation allow the millipedes to enter the house, where they continue wandering until they find a place to hide or until they expire from lack of moisture, coiled in the corners of a room.”