Thousand Legs: How to Kill Them

Even though they're harmless, finding millipedes in your home can be unsettling.
Even though they're harmless, finding millipedes in your home can be unsettling. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Thousand legs, commonly known as millipedes, are long, segmented brown arthropods. While they don’t actually have a thousand legs, millipedes can have anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred legs that move in a wavelike, undulating manner when they walk. Millipedes thrive in moist conditions and feed on rotting wood and leaves and other decaying plant matter. If you find one in your home, it won’t do any damage to your home or hurt you. Simply sweep it outside with a broom or kill it. Pesticides, however, may work the best to eliminate large numbers of millipedes.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum or shop-vac
  • Spray, dust or granule pesticide

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Eliminate all moisture inside your home to kill any existing millipedes and prevent new ones from entering, since millipedes cannot live in dry areas. Place a dehumidifier in your basement or in any rooms with excess moisture. Set up fans in rooms that don’t have much air flow. Ensure there is no leaky plumbing or dripping faucets anywhere in your home.

Suck up millipedes with a vacuum or shop-vac to kill them. Dump the bin or remove the bag when you are done.

Use a spray pesticide around the outside and inside of your home wherever you notice millipedes. Aerosol sprays that contain propoxur, boric acid, cyfluthrin or pyrethrins as their active ingredient are effective in killing millipedes. Use liquid sprays with the active ingredients cypermethrin, bifenthrin or deltamethrin.

Sprinkle pesticide dust or powder in and around your home in areas you notice millipedes. Kill millipedes with any dust formulations that contain pyrethrins, amorphous silica gel, and piperonyl butoxide; dusts containing deltamethrin or diatomaceous earth also work.

Leave pesticide granules in and around your home. Look for the active ingredients lambda-cyhalothrin or plant oil (hexa-hydroxyl) when buying granules to kill millipedes.

Tips & Warnings

  • The innards of millipedes can stain surfaces, so it's better not to squash them in your home.
  • Find pesticide sprays, powders and granules at a pest control company or a local gardening store.
  • Discourage millipedes from living around the outside of your home by controlling excess moisture: repair dripping or damaged gutters and water your lawn in the morning so it's dry by nightfall (since millipedes are nocturnal).
  • Wear a protective mask over your nose and mouth when applying pesticides and always follow the package directions.


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