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Millipedes

The most common species of millipedes in Tennessee and Kentucky are brown in color and measure between 1 and 4 cm. All but the first few body segments following the head, which have one pair of legs, have two pairs of legs growing from each body segment. Depending on species they either have a smooth exoskeleton or are characterized by setae, bristle like hair. Some types are capable of rolling their bodies in a ball. Eyesight is between poor and nonexistent. Antennae and sensory organs are used to navigate the environment. Millipedes take their body hygiene seriously and clean themselves a lot using brush-like hairs that are located on their legs in the front part of their body. Most species feed off decaying organic plant matter, some consume fungi or animal remains. While they move in a slow wave-like motion, they are good at burrowing into the ground building tunnels and laying eggs. Freshly hatched young do not have legs yet. Underground they mold and shed multiple times to grow in length. Full development takes up to two years and the life expectancy is roughly 11 years. Millipedes do not have a natural protection against moisture loss and prefer therefore moist environments. They generally live in damp soil outside but colder temperatures and heavy rainfall leads millipedes to seek entry into homes where they are most commonly found in the kitchen, bathroom, basement, and crawl space. They are also most active at night.

 

To prevent an infestation, it is important to seal all entry points around doors, windows, and vents. Cracks and crevices in the structure are additional entry areas. Installing a moisture barrier and temp vents helps control moisture and reduces the comfort of millipedes and other pests. Around the house the yard should be kept clean and limit harboring ground for millipedes and other pests. Debris, leaves, compost, decaying wood, mulch, and rocks should be kept at a minimum.

Fun facts about millipedes:


  • they lay eggs into nests

  • their lifespan can reach up to 7 years

  • fossil findings propose that they were among the first animals to move from water to land and breathe air