Numbering 1.000 species in the United States, millipedes thrive throughout the world. They are most likely found in moist areas and decaying vegetation, such as under trash, piles of grass clippings, mulch in flower beds, or piles of leaves. Millipedes will not survive indoors for more than a few days.
The most effective way to prevent and get rid of millipede infestations is eliminate moisture in and around your home. Keep lawns mowed and trimmed so that grass does not retain moisture. Water the turf in the early morning to allow drying during the day. Remove mulch, debris and leaf piles.
Millipedes have the nickname, “thousand legers” because of their may pair of legs. Depending on the species, they actually can have thirty to ninety pair of legs.
Millipedes move slowly on their short legs designed to help them navigate their way through the soil. Their legs remain in line with their bodies, and number two pairs per body segment. Only the first three body segments, the thorax, have single pairs of legs.
Millipede bodies are every long, and cylindrical. Flat-backed millipedes, appear flatter than other worm-shaped cousins.
Millipedes are nocturnal scavengers with very poor sight. They feed on decaying plants and dead insects. Newly hatched millipedes feed on fungi in the soil, or their own feces to help them digest plant matter.
Female millipedes lay their eggs in the soil. Some species lay eggs singly, others lay them in clusters. Depending on the type of millipede, the female may lay anywhere from a few dozen to several thousand eggs in her lifetime.
Millipedes undergo incomplete metamorphosis. Young millipedes stay in the underground nest until they have molted at least once. With each molt, the millipede grows more body segments and more legs. It can take many months for millipedes to reach adulthood.
If threatened, millipedes often curl into a tight ball or spiral into the soil. They cannot bite. Some millipedes give off a foul-smelling fluid through openings along the sides of their body. These substances may burn or sting, or stain your skin temporarily they are handled. This fluid can be toxic to small animals and pets.