You’re relaxing, reading a great book and all of a sudden – what the heck is that on the floor!? Oh, it’s a millipede! Well, you probably are wondering just why you have a millipede in your house and what attracted it there in the first place.
Your home can attract millipedes if outdoor conditions are less than favorable for them. Excessive rain will send them into your house looking for dryer conditions, while an extended drought will have them seeking cooler temperatures and higher humidity, which a human home can provide.
Unfortunately, there are many things we do that inadvertently attract them to our houses as well. Here we will go over what attracts millipedes to your house, and what to do about them. Let’s get to it!
Most Common Things That Attract Millipedes
Barring rotting wood or other catastrophic reasons, millipedes don’t want to stay in the house with you.
Conditions in the house may be better for them for the moment, but they simply won’t live long inside your house. The problem is when millipedes get into your house, they don’t know how to get back out.
The good thing is that most millipedes are harmless to humans according to the EPA. Some varieties of millipedes CAN be problematic with their defense liquids.
However that really isn’t the majority!
Millipedes either wander in by accident because they are attracted to something near the foundation of your house, or they are trying to escape catastrophic conditions outside. Without further ado, let’s get into what is attracting millipedes to your house.
Full Or Clogged Gutters
Cleaning gutters can be a real pain, but when they get clogged with leaves, grit, pine needles, and other debris, they create a perfect environment for millipedes and many other pests.
The leaves and other debris in gutters mix with rainwater and start to rot. The breaking down of the vegetation and the water that continues to sit at the bottom attracts millipedes. They love to eat wet leaves and rotting vegetation.
The humid conditions in the gutters are also the perfect place for them to live because they have to stay in damp environments, otherwise, they dehydrate quickly. So, full gutters give millipedes food, water, and shelter; the three things necessary for life.
Full gutters also cause rainwater to flow over the edge of the roof and collect at the foundation of the house. When it rains, millipedes that were hiding out in the gutters have to escape so they don’t drown. This sends them into the house often.
Millipedes can slide into the attic or top floors of the house because of the full gutters. Maybe they just go exploring and find a way into the house.
From there, they can’t find their way back outside, but keeping your gutters clean and free of debris will help keep millipedes away.
A direct result of full or clogged gutters is a wet foundation. This humidity will attract millipedes to your house.
They need a damp, but not sopping wet environment to live, and if you regularly have rainwater pouring around or puddling near your foundation, that could attract millipedes.
Millipedes breathe through spiracles—tiny holes in the exoskeleton that have no way of closing. As they breathe, they constantly exhale moisture, so they will dry out quickly if they are not living in a humid environment.
These tiny holes can also cause millipedes to drown in standing water. Again, standing water will send them scurrying away to find drier conditions.
A wet foundation is like a double-edged sword that will send millipedes into the house. When it rains and water pools around, millipedes will seek areas that aren’t as wet, like the interior of your house.
When the outdoors dry out, the ground around the foundation will probably be damper because of all the water that rushed off the roof and puddled around. Millipedes will again seek the damp soil, and most likely end up in your house again.
Keeping your gutters in good working order and diverting the rainwater runoff away from the house will go a long way in keeping millipedes away from your house.
There are other things you can do to keep millipedes away from your foundation, like sealing up all cracks and gaps.
Also, check all your caulk joints around windows, doors, and crawlspace vents as over time they can crack and shrink, allowing millipedes into your house.
If you already have millipedes inside, take a peak at our article on the things you should do if you find a millipede in your house!
Mind Your Grass Clippings
One of the millipede’s favorite foods is decaying grass clippings. There’s nothing wrong with mulching grass clippings and letting them recycle themselves into the yard. It cuts down on the need for fertilizers to keep a healthy yard.
If you are having a problem with millipedes, though, your mulched grass clippings could attract them to your house. As the clippings decay, millipedes will feast on the clippings, so raking them away from your house will keep these “leggy” creatures away.
When using a trimmer around your house, you should remove the shredded grass and weeds after you are finished. Millipedes mostly eat leaves and other decaying vegetation like grass and lawn clippings, so leaving them around your house attracts the bugs.
Composting the grass clippings is one way to get rid of them and keep millipedes away from your house.
Having an active compost heap will attract millipedes and other beneficial insects and worms to that area. If they have a constant food supply far away from the house, there won’t be much reason for them to leave.
This way, the compost pile gives millipedes a place to stay and keeps them from being attracted to your house. You also don’t have to resort to pesticides, which aren’t always that effective at keeping millipedes at bay.
The EPA states millipedes don’t do damage to structures, and rarely do they need to be controlled. They end up entering structures in search of food and shelter.
Strategies to keep millipedes away include sealing any gaps, eliminating damp hiding places, and food sources such as rotting wood and grass. Pesticides are rarely required to control millipedes.
Mulching Attracts More Millipedes
Mulch around flower beds, trees, and shrubs can set off a landscape and make it pop. It also helps your plants to grow better, keeps the soil damp for longer, and improves soil condition.
It’s just too bad that millipedes love to live in mulch and eat it as it slowly decomposes!
All that good-looking, plant-loving, weed-restricting, mulch around your house is a big, bright welcome sign to millipedes. Before you go out and buy gallons of pesticides and start soaking all your mulch beds, or you contemplate removing all the mulch from your yard, try something else instead.
You don’t have to take drastic measures, but a bit of extra work may help to stem the tide of millipede invasion. By laying out a line of inorganic mulch around your house, you’ll move any possible millipedes farther away.
Use something like river rock, pea gravel, rubber mulch, or volcanic rock, and lay out a one-foot to two feet wide bed or inorganic mulch around the foundation of your house.
These materials won’t rot or break down, so the buffet line millipedes are looking for won’t be there!
You’ll still have the benefits of a good mulch bed around your house and flower beds, but without the organic material breaking down, bugs like millipedes, termites, and pill bugs won’t be residing so close to your house.
This will cut down on the curious bugs that find a tiny crack around your house and end up finding their way into your bedroom.
Millipedes Love A Humid House
When it’s hot and dry outside, millipedes will seek a more tolerable, humid environment. During the hot and dry summer, a cool, humid house is an irresistible source of respite from the heatwave.
Keeping your house as dry inside as possible will do a lot in preventing millipedes from entering. You may have to run dehumidifiers to reduce the humidity in the air. By making your house as uninviting as possible, you could help to deter millipedes from wanting to get inside.
By using potent scents millipedes don’t like, such as peppermint, around your house, you could also deter them from getting in.
Millipedes don’t like the smell of peppermint or tea tree oil, so those essential oils diluted heavily and mixed with water in a spray bottle could repel these intruders.
You can also use something like Mighty Mint’s Peppermint Oil Rodent Repellent Spray. It’s formulated for rodents with a base of 4% peppermint oil but it could be a good idea to use a general natural pesticide method.
For either choice, spray the mixture around your foundation, windows, and doors to keep millipedes away from your house. You may have to alter the concentration to be the most effective, but millipedes truly don’t care for either of these fragrances!
Millipedes Love Dark And Damp Spaces
It’s not really the underworld, but inside a crawlspace or cellar, it can sometimes feel like that. They are usually dark, cool, damp, and a perfect hideout for all the weird-looking creepy crawlers.
Basements aren’t usually as bad as a crawlspace, but they can be inviting to millipedes. Even completely finished, climate-controlled basements are usually a little cooler and a little damper than upper living areas.
We already know millipedes like dark, damp, and cool areas, so we should assume they would like these places and be attracted to them. When the weather outside is frightful, millipedes will seek places like a basement, cellar, or crawlspace.
Crawlspaces especially are inviting to millipedes because there is usually a lot of damp, cool soil, and depending on how clean you keep your crawlspace, there may be plenty of food there for them as well.
Ways to make these environments less inviting to millipedes include removing the humidity and making sure there’s nothing for them to eat there. Dehumidifiers, especially in basements, will help to deter millipedes.
As far as cellars and crawlspaces, a good, thick vapor barrier can help keep ground humidity from seeping upward and into the air, and prevent millipedes from burrowing into the ground.
If you are storing vegetables, plant bulbs, or other vegetable matter, consider storing them in ways that keep millipedes from accessing them. When there is no other food available, millipedes will seek any type of soft or rotting plant matter to feed on.
Fallen Leaves In The Yard
Leaves are probably the number one or two food sources for millipedes. If you hate raking or blowing leaves away from your property, or you would rather let them decompose into the ground as nature intended, that’s certainly an acceptable choice.
Just know wet, decaying leaves will attract millipedes unlike nearly anything else.
If your property has a lot of trees that drop their leaves in the fall, and you have a problem with millipedes in your house, then you should think about getting rid of the downed leaves.
You could run a lawnmower on the mulch setting and make a couple of runs on the leaves to chop them into smaller pieces.
This way it would be harder for millipedes to hide underneath them and might remove some of the appealing food sources. It’s not a perfect solution, but it may help.
If mulching the leaves doesn’t work, then you should either get rid of them or, if you have the space, pile the leaves up far away from your house.
That way, if millipedes are hiding underneath them, they will have no choice but to pack up and move elsewhere.
Once you deal with the leaves, you’ll need to stay on top of them so that millipedes don’t come back. They don’t understand what an eviction notice is, and if wet leaves return, so will millipedes.
Firewood And Old Wood
Firewood piles can attract millipedes. Using firewood as an alternative or supplemental heat source is a great way to stay warm during the winter, but if that woodpile is stored near your house, you could be inadvertently inviting in millipedes.
This is especially true if some of the wood rots.
Millipedes won’t mess with solid wood, but once it starts to decay, firewood can and will become another food source for them. As long as it’s soft or rotting plant matter, millipedes can feed on it.
Moving the woodpile away from your house is the first step you should take.
Then, if it’s not already, start storing your firewood off the ground. This way the wood is less likely to rot since there is no rotting wood, there’s nothing for millipedes to eat on, and no reason for them to enter your house.
Rotting Debris And Decaying Plant Matter
As we’ve mentioned, millipedes love decaying plant matter. Whether that material is leaves, wood, grass clippings, or even a compost pile, millipedes will dine on it.
After trimming your hedges, make sure you remove them instead of letting them rot into the ground.
If you have a compost heap, keep it away from any structures, and if there is any other plant matter that could decay, move it far away from the house.
Damp And Non-Dry Places
Just as heavy rains will send millipedes packing in search of alternative living conditions, drought can do the same. Hot, dry summer days can be lethal to millipedes so they will find areas that have humidity.
Your house can be an alternative source of humidity. Laundry rooms, bathrooms, under the sink in the kitchen, and basements are all areas that are usually a bit more humid than other parts of the house. That’s why when millipedes invade your house, you’ll usually find them in these areas.
Per the NC Department of Agriculture, millipedes don’t want to be in your house, but they can find their way in after heavy rains, or after days of drought!
Making sure you don’t have any leaks at water connectors, and cleaning up any spills quickly will go a long way in preventing millipedes from entering.
Millipedes Love Plants In Pots
Potted plants can be a millipede attractant. The pots hold moisture, can offer hiding spots, and hold plenty of organic matter for them to eat. If you have nothing else in your yard that attracts millipedes, plants potted outside can offer what they need to survive.
Potting soil is made to hold moisture, and often is full of organic material, so millipedes see this as food and the moisture they need to survive.
To keep millipedes out of your potted plants, you can do things like watering them in the morning to let them dry out a bit before the millipedes become active.
You can also hang your potted plants from hooks, or move them inside in the evening to keep these many-legged critters from getting to them.
That’s A Wrap!
Millipedes are attracted to humid, dark areas that offer some kind of food. Once humidity, food, and shelter are moved or eliminated, millipedes will have no choice but to move away as well.
When millipedes are present, removing fallen leaves, and being careful with grass clippings, woodpiles and other sources of food will help to keep them from your house.
Making sure once inviting areas like basements are dry, and gaps and cracks are filled, will also help to prevent attracting millipedes to your home.
Bogyó, Dávid, et al. “Distribution of millipedes (Myriapoda, Diplopoda) along a forest interior–forest edge–grassland habitat complex.” ZooKeys 510 (2015): 181.
Brandão, C. R. F., J. L. M. Diniz, and E. M. Tomotake. “Thaumatomyrmex strips millipedes for prey: a novel predatory behaviour in ants, and the first case of sympatry in the genus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).” Insectes Sociaux 38.4 (1991): 335-344.
Bailey, P. T., and Teresa Rita de Mendonça. “The distribution of the millipede Ommatoiulus moreleti (Diplopoda, Julida: Julidae) in relation to other Ommatoiulus species on the south‐western Iberian Peninsula.” Journal of Zoology 221.1 (1990): 99-111.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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