Millipedes are on the move indoors and out

Mary Catherine Brooks/The Wyoming County ReportThose annoying millipedes are on the move by the hundreds in southern West Virginia, making pests of themselves in and around the house. The slow-moving creatures require a certain amount of dampness and usually die when they get inside the house. The good news – they will likely disappear with the first frost.

They’re everywhere! They’re everywhere! Those inch-long creepy, crawly worms with dozens of legs.

Millipedes seem to have taken up residence in southern West Virginia, and numerous other locations across the nation.

Residents complain the creatures are in the yard, in the garage, on the porch and patio, even at work, and are making real pests of themselves all over the house.

It’s a mass migration, explained Berry Crutchfield, an entomologist, who is the plant/pest biologist for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.

In some years, the millipedes overpopulate and that results in a mass migration, he explained.

“They’re getting into new territory and as a result, they get into the yard and the house,” Crutchfield said.

“It’s not anything you do. You’re not attracting them,” he said.

The millipedes are on the move and “your house just gets in their way,” he said.

“They are always somewhere,” he said. “We get calls every year about them.”

The little buggers can hang around for weeks, maybe months, or maybe for a couple of consecutive years in some locations.

Millipedes are harmless to humans, Crutchfield pointed out.

“They don’t carry diseases. They don’t do any damage. They’re just a nuisance around the house,” he emphasized.

Some species, however, produce skin-irritating fluids and can emit a foul-smelling fluid to repel enemies.

“They require a certain amount of dampness and humidity, so they usually die when they get in the house,” Crutchfield noted.

Millipedes lay their eggs in soil or decaying plant matter, so reproduction will not take place in your house, Crutchfield explained.

Most millipedes have elongated, cylindrical bodies with more than 20 segments. Each segment has two pairs of jointed legs.

Pill millipedes are shorter and can roll into a tight ball, which is a defense mechanism.

The slow-moving creatures eat decaying leaves and dead plant matter.

Millipedes can be distinguished from centipedes, which are larger, move quicker, are venomous and can inflict a painful bite through poison-bearing claws, are carnivorous, and have only one pair of legs per body segment.

To keep millipedes out of the house, the general consensus is to seal all the cracks and use weather stripping around doors and windows, Crutchfield said.

“They will get into the house anyway,” he said.

Barrier pesticides can be used outside the house, but oftentimes the millipedes will just crawl through it, he said.

“The bottom line is, you just have to deal with it,” Crutchfield said.

The good news – the pesky critters will likely disappear with the first frost.

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