How to control millipedes and centipedes

Did you know that the millipede, and also the closely related centipede, actually is not an insect at all?  They actually belong to a family known as arthropods – critters that have exoskeletons rather than boney skeletons inside their bodies. The family also includes scorpions, cicadas, dragonflies, and other common critters. Millipede and centipedes feed on dead and decaying plant matter.  They have periods during the cold winter months when they go dormant and enter a state of hibernation. When the weather warms up they wake up and begins moving around again. This is why they are seen in and around the home in the warmer months. Sometimes there are only a few that come out of hibernating but if there has been a mating pair overwintering in or around your home, the female could have laid up to 300 eggs at a time, all which will hatch when the warm weather hits.  This is what causes the infestations that can sometimes occur in certain areas.


Why they show up around and in homes in the first place

Millipedes and centipedes are commonly found after rainstorms as they flee flooding areas outside and seek higher and dryer ground- which is often trees, shrubs, and buildings. The feed off dame and decaying matter as well as some smaller insects, especially dead ones. Because they seek moisture and humid environments, they can occur in large numbers in the yard and garden area where there is plenty of decaying plant matter to feed on. They can also be found indoors near patio doors, windows, and in basements, kitchens, and bathrooms. If they are found indoors it most likely is because they wandered in as they were seeking sources of food or looking for shelter. They usually do not actively seek out our home as they are not the idea place for them to live. Millipedes don’t bite, sting, or transmit diseases to humans, and while centipedes do bit and their sting can be irritating and slightly painful it is usually not dangerous or overly harmful to anyone other than a small infant or toddler. These pests are more or less just annoying and bothersome and most people would rather the enveloped and millipede not make their house in their homes.


How to get rid of millipedes and centipedes indoors 

The best way to keep both of these common pests out of your house is to stop them from getting inside in the first place and making the area around your home unattractive to them. Most people reach for chemical sprays to accomplish this goal and while they are effective, they can pose a threat to other wildlife when used outdoors. And indoors they can affect the health and well being of your family and your pets.  So when you are looking at options for how to get rid of millipedes and centipedes indoors here are some points to keep in mind:

  1. Check all around the home for entry point where the pests can get into the home. Common sources of cracks and crevices often are found in the foundation, around wiring access points, and plumbing entry points. These are all easy places where millipedes, centipedes, or other pests, could enter.
  2. Millipedes require high humidity. Centipede can tolerate lower humidity levels but will still seek out moisture in order to survive. Use dehumidifiers to keep the air dry. Use fans or keep the AC running when possible, maintain good air flow in the home to keep the air as dry as possible.
  3. Repair any leaks as the moisture will definitely attract these pests if they find their way into your home.  Leaky faucets or pipes can attract millipedes and centipedes so be sure to check major plumbing areas such as the laundry room, bathroom, and kitchen.
  4. Clean out and remove debris from gutters and from around the home if you have flower beds or hedges near the home.  Gutter build up can will lea to high moisture levels in the home. Excessive mulch or leaf litter in flower beds can breed the pests and give them an easy place to hide and gain access to your home.
  5. Keep the yard clear and clean. Remove branches and limbs when they fall and rake up leaves. If you have a compost pile, keep it as far from the home as possible.  Remove piled up mulch or woodpiles that store moisture and do not over water your lawn and gardens.


Once these pests get into your home the only real option for getting rid of them is harsh chemical sprays. You will need to kill all adults and eggs in order to control any infestation. Once the numbers are under control you can then use these steps to find out how to get rid of millipedes and centipedes indoors. And of course, if you have a terrible centipede or millipede infestation, contact us to help you get everything under control.