Although our paths cross very rarely, millipedes can be a nuisance, mostly because they’re creepy crawlers that people would rather avoid. They’re not dangerous but it’s only natural that you want to get them out of your home.
You’ll be happy to hear that millipedes aren’t difficult to manage and you can easily keep them away from your home! In this article, I’ll teach you all about these multi-legged creatures, their relationship with people and our gardens, and how to get rid of millipedes from inside or outside your home.
- 1. Store Garden Debris Away from Building Foundations
- 2. Seal Cracks and Holes
- 3. Repair Leaky Pipes and Drainage Systems
- 4. Keep Building Foundations and Basements Dry
- 5. Ensure Downpipes and Guttering is Free from Leaf Buildup
How to Get Rid of Millipedes from Inside Your House
If you only have a few millipedes in your home, I’d suggest catching them and throwing them out or killing them. However, if you’re dealing with an infestation, more aggressive methods are needed.
1. Do Not Use Insecticides
Although the first thing that may pop up in your mind is to spray them with insecticides, this is a very bad idea for several reasons.
Firstly, millipedes need moisture to survive – if the habitat isn’t wet, they dry out and die. Because of this, it’s smarter to control the moisture than spray insecticides. Moisture levels that are normal for humans are lethal for millipedes. In that regard, insecticides are a short-term, expensive solution in comparison to moisture control, which is a long-term solution.
Secondly, using insecticides indoors is very dangerous and you shouldn’t do it unless you’re a professional. In quantities great enough, insecticides can seriously hurt or even kill an adult person.
The third and final point relates to the fact that an insecticide won’t stop a home invasion of millipedes! It will kill the millipedes in your home right now, but as soon as it clears out of the air, new millipedes will move in.
Poisoning them with an insecticide that’s also potentially dangerous for you and your family is needless since you could simply dry them out and keep them away for good!
2. Set A Trap
Light traps have produced great results with millipedes. You could opt for a DIY trap but they’re so effective that I wholeheartedly recommend buying a professional one that’s not too expensive.
How do they work? You set a light trap up in the area infested by millipedes and turn it on. The light attracts the millipedes but they have to climb over a ramp to get to it. Once they climb over the ramp, they won’t be able to get back out because the inside of the ramp is too smooth for them to climb.
Light traps are a great way to get rid of millipedes in the garden too, as some of them are solar-powered! In fact, I’d recommend using them for outdoor infestations and once again stress that indoor infestations can be ended simply by controlling moisture levels.
3. Use Boric Acid
Boric acid is a common ingredient in insecticides, and it can hurt millipedes just by touching them. An animal has to absorb the acid into their body, and there are two ways to do it.
The first method is by eating it. This is why boric acid is often used to kill ants and cockroaches. Millipedes, however, aren’t interested in eating boric acid and this won’t work with them.
What will work, though, is simply spreading it on the floor they’re walking on. Boric acid will damage their exterior shell because it’s so strong and is easily absorbed into their bodies. It will poison them even without the millipedes eating it.
Although it’s an effective method when it comes to killing millipedes, you’d have to cover the entire floor to kill every millipede in your home. This is why experts recommend that you apply it to holes and crevices millipedes use to get into your house.
Humans aren’t really in danger when it comes to boric acid. We can die only if we ingest it, although minor poisoning can occur by breathing it in. Children are more vulnerable than adults but our pets are actually in the most danger, as they might find the smell interesting and lick it up.
Despite the relatively low risk of poisoning, please be careful if you use boric acid and read all about working with boric acid and the safety guidelines provided by the National Pesticide Information Center.
Getting Rid Of Millipedes Naturally
These methods don’t include the use of pesticides or traps, but rather focus on everyday items you might find in your home.
1. Sweep Or Vacuum Them Up
Very simply put – millipedes can’t escape your vacuum cleaner. However, this method isn’t very effective in the long term as all animals instinctively run away from potential predators and millipedes aren’t exactly going to stand and wait for you to vacuum them up.
So, not only will they be difficult to vacuum, but this also won’t prevent a long-term infestation.
2. Sprinkle Cayenne Pepper
In case you didn’t know it already, humans are the only species to actively seek out spicy food. Millipedes, among all other species, would rather avoid spicy food, and cayenne pepper is too spicy for them.
However, this method hasn’t proven to be effective in practice because, quite frankly, millipedes are dumb and they aren’t capable of learning that a certain food is painful for them to eat.
So, even if you sprinkle a cayenne pepper and water solution on the fruit in your basement (which isn’t a problem for you as you can simply wash it off), the millipedes might stop eating it right now but they’ll probably be back later.
3. Use Essential Oils
Now we’re getting to a more effective method of how to get rid of millipedes, as millipedes mostly rely on the sense of touch and their sense of smell to find food. Essential oils mess with their sense of smell to the point of overload and, as a result, they can’t smell anything else.
If you mix an essential oil with water in a 1:4 ratio and spread it on the holes and crevices they use as pathways into your home, millipedes will become completely disoriented when they come near it.
When an animal becomes disoriented like that, its instinct is to leave the area immediately.
4. Remove Moisture
Removing moisture and dehumidifying the area infested by millipedes is by far the most effective short-term and long-term way of getting rid of millipedes.
Why? Because millipedes don’t have a waxy cuticle and — to skip all the technical talk about their anatomy — they have to live in moist habitats or will die after a few days.
So the best way of getting rid of them is by dehydrating them!
This is why they’re so common after heavy rainfall and why there are greater numbers of them in rainforests! Once again, this is why millipedes are often found in basements, damp boxes, bathrooms, drains, etc.
I’ll explain long-term moisture removal methods later but, for now, it’s important to get a dehumidifier. These handy devices can be rented in some stores if you don’t want to buy one for this sole purpose, and they do a great job at lowering humidity levels in the room.
After the millipedes die, just vacuum them up.
How To Get Rid Of Millipedes In Your Garden Or Yard
There are plenty of things you can do to minimize millipede presence in the yard, and these methods are usually effective.
Firstly, keep your yard free of organic debris that’s going to rot (leaves are a perfect example) – this is food for millipedes.
You should also water everything early in the morning so it’ll dry quickly. Moisture attracts millipedes and if you water everything in the evening, the moisture will stick around for a while.
If you use mulch, don’t apply a layer thicker than 4 inches. It will retain too much water and provide an environment for them. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, remove rocks. They make great hiding spots for millipedes.
Water runoff, such as that from a rain gutter, should be directed towards the street.
Speaking of gutters, keep them clean. They can build up piles of leaves that will rot, and together with water make an ideal environment for millipedes.
Finally, control your air conditioning drip. If water keeps dripping in one spot, it will attract millipedes.
Getting Rid Of Millipedes In Drains
There’s a reason millipedes like drains. They’re very wet, cold, and usually full of decomposing organic matter they can feed on. It’s disgusting for many people, and there are a few methods I’d recommend.
The first method you could try is pouring either boric acid or a cup of vinegar down the drain. White vinegar isn’t necessarily dangerous for the millipedes but it will definitely overpower their sense of smell.
However, chances are that the millipedes will return to the drain – they don’t get in there through the sink, but from the pipes.
There’s probably a small leak somewhere that they’re using to get in, and you should find it and patch it up to prevent further infestations. In addition, control the environment around them and make it an unappealing habitat to them.
Removing Millipedes From Basement
The best method of removing millipedes from your basement is by getting a dehumidifier and dehydrating them to death. They’ll either leave your basement or die. A millipede simply can’t survive such a dry environment.
Using a millipede trap in the basement is another great way of getting them out. Millipedes can’t help but follow the light and you can simply throw them out once they die from hunger and dehydration.
Where Do Millipedes Live?
Millipedes can be found on every single continent aside from Antarctica. They can even be found in the Arctic Circle in parts of Iceland and Russia. There, they’re found on and in the ground – usually in humid areas.
They’re typically found in forests, where they can find plenty of decaying leaves and vegetation. There are also desert millipedes that have adapted to extremely hot environments.
Amazingly, there are species that can survive underwater for almost a year, although millipedes are not aquatic animals by nature.
So, why are there millipedes in your garden? Because, put simply, it suits their needs. Your garden is like a miniature forest to them and they can thrive in it.
They’re also known to infest crops, especially after heavy rain. The same can happen with your garden. Millipedes like mushy, wet soil that’s easy to process, so you might notice a growth in numbers after rain.
What Attracts Millipedes Indoors?
Millipedes aren’t as attracted to the inside of your living room as they are attracted to your basement or your garage. They like moist and cool areas with a lot of organic matter, such as decomposing leaf mulch and other organic waste.
So, if you have a box of apples in the basement and some of them are rotting, millipedes will be attracted to it.
Since they’re tiny animals that can climb more-or-less anything, they’re often found in crawl spaces and even in insulation.
Another reason they’re often found in homes is overwintering. Countless millipedes would die if your home didn’t provide them with an environment warm enough to survive the winter.
When it comes to them being attracted to your yard, it’s probably because of all the edible materials – piles of rotting leaves, dead logs, mulch, etc. This is especially common in autumn, as rains get heavier and organic matter decomposes more quickly.
Because of this, the most effective strategy for keeping millipedes at bay is keeping your home free of decomposing organic matter.
Are Millipedes Harmful To People And Plants?
Although millipedes do have a defensive mechanism, it doesn’t involve biting and they can hardly be described as harmful. When distressed, they release secretions that can cause temporary and mostly painless skin discoloration.
Only a handful of millipede species can cause more dangerous symptoms, including pain, blisters, and even cracked skin. The only time you should actually worry about a millipede burn is if the secretion came into contact with your eyes.
They’re rarely known to invade homes in great numbers, although such cases have been documented. Interestingly, they’re known to cause train delays as the train can start slipping on the tracks after hundreds of millipedes are crushed.
The damage they can do to plants is a greater reason for concern. Although they mostly feed on decomposing plants, millipedes are known to sometimes eat soft parts of the plant that can be digested easily, such as seedlings and roots.
Because of this, gardeners often want them out of their gardens, although they know that millipedes are usually useful animals.
Preventing Millipede Infestations In Your Home
After dehumidifying the grounds, you have to make sure that the millipedes don’t come back. The things listed below are almost guaranteed to ensure a millipede-free home.
1. Store Garden Debris Away from Building Foundations
Very simply put, millipedes get into homes through cracks in the building foundations. The chances of them finding these cracks will increase if you keep garden debris (such as stored, wood chips, mulch, leaves, or woodpiles) near building walls and foundations.
As an alternative, why not build a compost pile in an area away from your house? A compost pile is almost guaranteed to attract millipedes but they’re actually useful in this regard and it’ll keep them away from your home.
2. Seal Cracks and Holes
Although millipedes are tiny animals that can pass through almost every crevice, they’re not omnipotent and they can’t pass through walls. If you seal the cracks and the holes in your walls, the millipedes will be stuck outside and you won’t have an infestation on your hands.
The most important holes to seal are the ones around pipes leading into your home – usually gas and water pipes. Other open spaces, such as water grates, are also a great way in for millipedes.
Cracks under windows are a common way in for millipedes, while they can easily get into your garage beneath the garage door. Many homeowners don’t install a rubber border on the bottom of the garage door, and that’s often all the invitation a millipede needs to make your garage its home.
3. Repair Leaky Pipes and Drainage Systems
As I mentioned early, millipedes can thrive in drains and they don’t have a problem with water. Millipedes most likely get into pipes through small leaks, not through the sink or the shower.
To ensure they don’t have access to your pipes anymore, you’ll need to patch them up. This can be a very difficult job as some pipes are under the ground and, quite frankly, it’s not worth the effort.
These fixes are often costly and timely, requiring you to hire an excavator and dig more than six feet below the ground. After that, a professional has to fix the leak, only for it all to happen again after a few years (not saying it will, but it easily can).
I’d refrain from devoting yourself to major pipework and only fix the easier leaks unless absolutely essential.
4. Keep Building Foundations and Basements Dry
As we now know, a dry environment is a bad environment for millipedes. Keeping your basement dry will keep millipedes away but you should also keep your foundations dry to keep them from trying to enter your home.
You can’t control rain but you can control gutters and AC pipes, so make sure those are pouring far from your walls.
5. Ensure Downpipes and Guttering is Free from Leaf Buildup
This is a very important but often overlooked issue. Leaves will build up in your gutter every year – there’s no getting around it. Combine that buildup of leaves with heavy rain and you suddenly have the perfect food for millipedes.
Keeping your gutters and your downpipes free from leaf buildup is a 100% efficient way of keeping them out of your gutter and away from your home.
FAQ Controlling Millipedes
Getting Rid Of Millipedes — Solved
Millipedes are a very rudimentary class of animal and they’re not difficult to handle. They’ll dehydrate and die if you lower the moisture level in your home, which is why dehumidifiers are the most effective weapon against them.
You can also use millipede traps both inside and outside.
The most important thing, however, is to make your home a hostile environment for them. Minimize decomposing organic matter and moisture and repair all cracks and holes, and you’ll see a drop in their numbers.