Millipedes do not do much damage in a home or garden. Their diet consists primarily of decaying vegetation, they are not aggressive, and only the giant tropical millipedes are toxic enough to be dangerous to pets. On the other hand, some people find them alarming or annoying, and they can be an indication of more serious problems. Inside, the presence of millipedes usually suggests you have a problem with moisture.
Remove the Water Supply
Millipedes must have a damp environment, because their skins are not fully waterproof. Without moisture, they leave or die. If you have a lot of millipedes inside, examine all exposed plumbing fixtures and seal any drips or leaks. Don’t leave damp towels lying on your bathroom floor, where they provide the perfect damp hiding place for millipedes and other pests. Condensation on windows and around refrigerators also supplies water, so get into the habit of mopping it up every morning.
Remove Hiding Places
Inside, you might not be able to remove all the potential hiding places, although you could certainly dispose of clutter. In your yard, however, you can reduce the number of millipedes by removing the places in which they shelter. The University of Kentucky recommends cutting back vegetation around the outside of your house and removing any items that provide shelter or food, such as dead leaves, grass clippings and stones.
Remove the Millipedes
Millipedes move slowly and usually curl into a ball when frightened, rather than running away. This makes catching them a straightforward task. If millipedes don’t frighten you, catch them with a piece of cardboard and a plastic tub, pushing the creature into the tub with the cardboard. If you’d rather not get so close, use a brush and shovel. If you release them a few hundred yards from where they were being a nuisance, they probably won’t return.
Diatomaceous earth is effective on millipedes, without being dangerous to you, your family or most pets. It consists of the fossilized skeletons of diatoms – plant-like microorganisms – and destroys the protective coating of arthropod skins. Dust areas where millipedes are particularly prevalent, bearing in mind that diatomaceous earth is also dangerous to other arthropods, including useful ones such as ladybugs. Other organic pesticides, such as those based on pyrethrum, an extract of the Dalmatian chrysanthemum, also kill millipedes. Always follow the instructions exactly; even organic pesticides can be dangerous to people or pets if not used correctly.
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