Millipedes, well, are ugly. But that is all to them. Thankfully, unlike the centipedes, millipedes do not bite and are not aggressive. They are around 1 ½ inches long and the poor dears curl up when disturbed. Also, they are really slow. There are over 6000 species, meaning there may be little black, reddish, orange-ish or brown millipedes, depending on the species. Millipedes are not insects but arthropods, and can live five to seven years or longer. Once they are sexually mature after reaching five years of age, they can lay up to 300 eggs at a time.
How to kill millipedes?
They seem quite nice really, but you may consider getting rid of them in case there is heavy infestation or if they make you uneasy. Autumn is when they usually move indoors due to the increasing cold and dryness outside, or during rains when their own homes are flooded. So here are some ways by which you may get rid of house millipedes easily.
1. Diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth is made of fossilized diatoms which have extremely sharp granules. This makes it an awesome natural pest control ingredient. Due to the sharpness, when a millipede or any insect for that matter crosses over it, it sustains heavy cuts which dehydrate it and ultimately kill it. Remember to buy those specifically made for pest control purposes which are usually labeled as ‘DE’ or ‘roach powder’. Also, while it is not toxic in nature, the granules when lodged into the eyes can cause eye irritation, or a cough if inhaled. In order to combat millipedes with this, just spread some of it on all the areas they are likely to frequent, and all the crevices and gaps.
2. Wood ash
Millipedes, being earth dwellers, depend on the soil for their hydration because of which they prefer moist soil. They also lay their eggs in it. So, to deal with them in your garden soil the key lies in drying out the soil. The best way to do this is to mix some amount of dry wood ash with the soil. Mulch around the foundation and distribute it evenly by using a rake or a hoe to make it more effective. This will soon cause the millipede bugs to disappear and will take care of any of the eggs and larvae that may be there, preventing further infestation.
3. Boric acid
Boric acid is manufactured from the mineral borate and for the purposes of killing millipedes; the powder form should be used. Just like diatomaceous earth, boric acid has tiny granules which are sharp and act as desiccating agents, meaning they can cut the body surface and dehydrate them. Boric acid also happens to be a stomach poison for these creatures, meaning that even if they survive the cutaneous attack, they will be killed from the inside. This makes boric acid a preferred component in many commercial insecticides. So spread some powder in the cracks and crevices and other likely places where the millipedes could be. Boric acid is actually rather useful to humans, so you shouldn’t worry much about negative after effects.
4. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper has natural acids which are not good for the millipedes and so it acts as a natural repellent. Put a thin layer of the cayenne pepper at all the entry points for the millipedes. While it is not harmful to anybody, it is best to keep your pets away as there is usually a bit of pain and burning on contact. The soft-skinned millipedes will soon disappear and there will be a significant reduction in the number of insects.
5. Using the dehumidifier
As has been mentioned, millipedes rely on moisture and wet soil to continue their life activities unimpeded. This makes the dehumidifier one of the best millipede deterrents. Use hygrometers to check your indoor humidity level. Then adjust the dehumidifier at a level to reduce your indoor humidity below 50%. You can also use your AC for this. In addition to this, you can adopt some other methods to keep the humidity in check like regularly checking the pipes for leakage, keeping shower curtains and bathroom doors closed, not letting water accumulate anywhere. Placing small packets of silica around the house is also a good idea as it is a desiccating agent. However, keep them out of the reach of children and pets and always wash your hands after touching them. The millipedes entering dry homes would die within 24 hours.
6. Herbal repellents
Herbs like indica, kingsnake and mongoose urine have been found to be really useful against arthropods. The only thing is you are unlikely to get them in your regular grocery store. For that, you can ask wildlife trappers whom you know, or gardeners. You can also pay a visit to a herbal shop or a gardening products shop. However, take care while using them because many of them may be poisonous for large mammals as well. Some synthetic products are available over the counter containing the essences of these herbs, but they too are usually toxic. So be very careful before buying.
Mothballs are effective against a large number of bugs thanks to their strong smell which irritates these creatures. So, to keep away the millipedes, keep these balls inside closets or gaps in door frames or other relatively closed spaces. However, remember that the fumes of the mothballs are harmful to pets and children. So you need to be very careful while using them.
8. Sticky traps
This is one of the easiest methods to get rid of millipedes. There are many sticky traps available over the counter for trapping insects. You can also make some of your own by using strips of cardboard and glues that won’t dry easily. Take care to use strong glues though, as the big millipedes may walk away leaving behind only a few legs, and that won’t harm them much. Sticky tapes are also a good idea but they would help only against baby millipedes. Place these traps in spots frequented by the millipedes and on the corners and cracks where they are likely to hide. You will soon see many of these creepy crawlies stuck on these traps. You can then dispose of them as per your convenience. Remember to buy non-toxic glue in case you have children and/or pets.
Sulphur is a really good repellent of millipedes. All you need to do is to go to the store, buy some sulphur powder and then apply it on the entry points for the millipedes and in dark and moist areas likely to be frequented by them. In case of a rain or strong winds, you need to replace the powder. But remember that sulphur can be extremely poisonous. So take care while handling it. Keep it away from food and clothes, and from children and pets.
Since millipedes do not have poisonous bites like centipedes, pets like cats and dogs is really a good idea to help keep them away. While these animals do not consider them to be delicious food items, thanks to their playful nature and hunting instincts, they make life pretty uncomfortable for them and drive them away.
If you really want to get rid of millipedes without that sticking to your conscience (after all, they are harmless really, and all they do is look ugly), you can keep some chickens in your yard. Chickens are natural predators of the millipedes, and should only be bought if you have the time, energy and the resources to care for them. Chickens eat a lot, so only a few of them are enough to get rid of a large infestation.
How to get rid of millipedes in houseplants?
It must be said at the onset that killing millipedes in houseplants is generally a bad idea. Because they devour all things dead, millipedes eat up all the dead and decomposing material in your pots and act as natural cleansers and fertilizing agents. But if you are really itching to do away with them then here are some things you can do:
- Remove all the dead and fallen leaves and debris from your pots and around the house as dead, damp matter is what attracts the millipedes.
- Hand-remove the millipedes from your pots if you are up to it. You can even use tongs for the purpose. To kill eggs and larvae, allow the soil to dry out before watering again.
- Millipedes also like hiding on the dark underside of damp earthen pots. So regularly lift up your pots to check.
- There are many houseplant insecticides available which you can spray on the leaves. But read the instructions on the package carefully to make them effective and to keep your plants undamaged.
Millipede control takes time. Other than all the methods mentioned above, you can also use synthetically manufactured insecticides bought over the counter to kill millipedes. But remember that they are more dangerous, cause a lot of pollution, and frankly, unnecessary when dealing with creatures as mild and meek as millipedes.