9 Things To Do If You Find A Millipede In Your House

Millipede crawling on a wooden plank.

Most people find insects and multi-legged bugs quite creepy, and they don’t want to see anything like that inside their house. These tiny bugs eventually find a way in, and millipedes are no exception. They can often be seen in damp areas like your basement or laundry room, but are millipedes bad inside your house?

Millipedes don’t do damage to your house, aside from creating piles of dried husks if a lot get inside. You can rid yourself of them by vacuuming them up, using glue traps, filling in entry points, deterring with essential oils, drying out the space, and different levels of cleaning.

When you see millipedes inside your house, they can certainly be a disconcerting sight. You want them gone because they aren’t welcome. Millipedes would rather be outside, but they often come inside by mistake, but what should you do when you find them inside your house?

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What To Do When You Find Millipedes Inside Your Home

The first thing we want to do is make sure it’s a millipede and not a centipede, as these are often mistaken for each other.

They are both segmented, worm-like creatures with way more than six legs. The most important difference is millipedes are harmless, while centipedes can deliver a very painful, venomous bite. 

Noticing the physical differences between centipedes and millipedes will help you discern which you are dealing with.

Centipedes are often more flattened looking, have one pair of legs per body segment, and are much faster than millipedes. Centipedes also have a long pair of antennae on their heads, while millipedes often do not. 

The coloring is different as well. Centipedes can be brown, red, orange, yellow, or a mixture, while millipedes are mostly solid-colored. Millipedes are often dark-colored; brown, or black, and can have a red or yellow streak along the outer edge of their segments.

According to the Connecticut Agricultural Department; Millipedes are a harmless nuisance, often found around damp, wooded areas full of undergrowth.

While some varieties of millipedes can be slightly problematic, the majority aren’t.

Millipedes can hide under moss, boards, logs, stones, and damp humus during the day and come out at nighttime. If they get into your basement, cellar, or other damp areas, they will leave when it dries out. 

When you get millipedes inside your house, there are several things you can do to prevent them or remove them. So let’s get into what to do when millipedes are inside your house. First, you can start by…

Sweeping Or Vacuuming The Millipede Menace

Millipedes need a humid environment to survive. Inside your house is usually not humid enough for millipedes to last very long. Most times when you see these little menaces, they will be curled up, dried out husks in a corner or near a door.

You can get rid of these curled carcasses by sweeping them up or vacuuming them up and disposing of them. A small word of caution here, though: if they are still squirming around when you vacuum them up, they can release their foul odor. Then the vacuum sends the odor out all over your house.

A vacuum with a HEPA filter, or one that uses bags, can help prevent the odor. Sweeping is the safest way to get rid of expired millipedes.

If the millipedes are still crawling around on the floor, you can either wait them out because they will soon dry out into a crunchy husk. You could also sweep them into a bag or bucket and toss them outside, away from your house.

Try to refrain from stepping on them because they will smell and could stain the floor. Spraying them with pesticides is pretty ineffective. Millipedes don’t respond well to pesticides, besides they won’t live more than a day inside your house. 

Use Glue Traps

If you can find out where they are coming in, setting glue traps where you see them congregate could be an option. Most times, though, they just seem to appear out of nowhere like weird arthropod magicians.

With this economical 75-pack of glue traps, Catchmaster Bulk Pack Mouse and Insect Glue Boards can stop the millipede invasion in its tracks.

Insect pests get stuck on the boards and can’t go anywhere else in your house. Once the board is full or the invasion has ended, simply toss the boards away!

You can set them along the walls where you see millipedes, or lay them out across a doorway to prevent them from getting in. They are a pesticide-free way to help control bugs and other pests.

Essential Oils Blockade

Most pests don’t like strong odors like peppermint and millipedes are no exception. Tea tree oil seems to be just as effective at deterring millipedes.

Take something like Handcraft Peppermint Essential Oil, or Handcraft Tea Tree Essential Oil, and dilute it in water. Usually, a few drops mixed in a spray bottle will do the trick, but you may have to strengthen the solution to be effective.

Spray the essential oil dilution around the outside perimeter of your house, paying special attention around doorways, crawlspace entrances and vents, and windows.

The oil will linger for a few days and repel most creepy crawlies. You’ll have to respray every couple of days, or after rain, to keep up the effective barrier.

Since these oils are often concentrated, the odor can be cloying, so it’s not recommended to spray them inside. You aren’t trying to repel yourself or your family. (Unless you desperately need some alone time, in that case, we won’t judge.

Good news for you, millipedes and centipedes are often repelled by the same scents!

Fill Cracks And Gaps In Your Foundation

Deep grouted crack in old brick wall - concept image with copy space

Millipedes aren’t actively searching for a way into your house. If they had room enough for a brain that had reasoning capabilities, they would avoid human homes at all costs. Millipedes prefer damp, dark leaf beds, rotting wood, or soft, humid soil beds to live in. 

You can set them along the walls where you see millipedes, or lay them out across a doorway to prevent them from getting in. They are a pesticide-free way to help control bugs and other pests.

As millipedes try to escape what is ailing them, they find tiny cracks or small gaps and slip inside. This can be a difficult task to undertake because they can get into very small holes, but going around your house and sealing cracks will help dramatically.

Pay attention to spaces near the foundation, around windows and doors, and at the corners of your house. Use an outdoor caulk, silicone, or gap sealant to close off any places critters can get in. 

Inspect around all the doors. Is the weather stripping still intact, or is it compressed, cracking, and not sealing as well as it should? How about at the foot of the door, is the door sweep sealing well?

These are all areas where millipedes and other pests could come into your domicile. 

Make Your Space Uninviting To Millipedes

Rotting plant matter attracts millipedes. This can be in the form of leaf piles, mulch beds, or woodpiles. Look around your property. If you have any of these things, you might invite millipedes to your house.

According to the NC Department of Agriculture, some reasons millipedes are attracted to houses are leaf litter, logs, mulch, and lumber.

So, naturally, getting rid of these things will help keep millipedes away!

If you are getting invaded by these many-legged creatures, you might need to move or dry out these areas. Millipedes eat rotting, wet leaves, wood, mulch, and even compost.

Millipedes need damp areas, or they will dry out. They breathe through tiny holes along their bodies. They can’t close these holes, so moisture is constantly leaving their bodies. Therefore, they seek damp areas.

These arthropods also rarely ever move far away from a place once they are comfortable. Move anything that is inviting to millipedes far away from the house, or let it dry out and you should see fewer and fewer of them inside your house.

The NC Department of Agriculture also suggests replacing grass or mulch with pea gravel which will help reduce moisture and in turn, decrease the attractiveness of your lawn to pests and insects alike!

If you’d like, take a look at our full list of the most common things that attract millipedes to your home!

Remove Any Excess Cardboard And Clean

Many times storage, places can be a welcome spot for insects and millipedes. Do you have a storage room in your basement, garage, or shed? Are there cardboard boxes full of papers, decorations, or random stuff? Raising my hand because I’m guilty of this.

Cardboard boxes are cheap, sturdy, and great for storing things, but they are also like flashing welcome signs for pests. Many insects feed on cardboard and paper, and if they are stacked on the floor, they absorb moisture, which is another attractant to bugs.

To prevent inadvertently attracting bugs to your boxes, store them off the ground. You can use pallets, or plastic spacers, or better yet, replace all the cardboard with plastic bins. These CRAFTSMAN Storage Bins are sturdy bins that hold a lot and have locking tops to keep any undesirables out.

They’re also waterproof, don’t attract insects, and last longer than cardboard boxes. Keep your valuables safe and insect-free.

Keep Your House Dry

Keeping your house dry will also prevent millipedes from getting in. They need a damp environment and can sense humidity or dry air. They will avoid places that are so dry it threatens their lives.

Basements and crawlspaces are usually very damp areas, so when millipedes sense that humidity, they will head toward it. To combat this, set a dehumidifier or two in these areas to dry them out.

The crawlspace is harder to keep dry because it’s usually not sealed off from outside elements like basements are. Here you’ll have to make sure you have an excellent vapor barrier that covers the entire floor space. 

The ground in crawlspaces is usually very damp, but putting a thick layer of plastic (at least 6mil thick) creates a vapor barrier that will help to keep the crawlspace drier.

You can also put down a layer of crushed rock, gravel, or sand to help keep it drier, or you can even have the space sealed off.

These options—aside from laying down a vapor barrier—can get quite expensive, so they might not be viable. 

While you are looking inside your crawlspace, look out for wet areas or puddles. These can be indicators of an outside leak or pipe leaks that will cause more problems later on, as well as inviting more insects inside. 

Clean Out Your Gutters

Clean gutters are essential in keeping excess water away from the foundation, but clogged, slow-draining gutters can make water pour over and cause many problems.

This excess water, especially if it’s a very rainy season, can attract hordes of millipedes and insects. 

Make sure your gutters are free of debris, are not clogged, and are in good working order.

This keeps a lot of water away, lets the ground around your house dry out faster after a rain shower, and will help to prevent the millipede migration into your house. 

Call A Professional Pest Control Pro

If all the above measures don’t work, or if taking all those previous steps sound like tasks you don’t have the time or energy for, you can call a professional pest agency.

They know how to deal with all kinds of unwanted guests. They may not know how to get rid of family and neighbors that have overstayed their welcome, but they will help you with the smaller, non-human pests.

A professional pest control company usually will set you up with a multi-layered approach to keeping millipedes out of your house, including sealing off gaps and cracks. If this sounds appealing, call a professional in your local area.

Why Are Millipedes Coming Inside Your House In the First Place? 

Millipede or Diplopoda on the moss on the rough cement wall.

There could be many reasons millipedes are getting into your house, but most of those reasons are because they are seeking shelter from undesirable elements outside. They don’t want to be inside your house. 

Heavy rainfall over a long period could have millipedes seeking shelter from the downpour. They live on, or under the ground, and when it rains a lot, they will seek dryer, safer conditions. During their search, they may come across small gaps in your house where they end up getting lost and don’t know how to get back out.

Alternatively, a drought could send millipedes searching for more humid conditions. When the heat and dry air are oppressive, your cool, damp house might seem like a welcoming oasis to parched millipedes, so again they find themselves inside. 

It could also be a millipede migration. Twice a year, millipedes pack up their belongings to seek new digs. It’s not understood why they do this, but the mass migration happens in spring and fall. 

They are nocturnal, so when the night settles in; they set out. You could wake up, stumble to the kitchen for coffee, and find there is an exceptional amount of curled-up “crunchies” all over your floor.

No, that’s not a pleasing thought, but it explains why you suddenly have a bunch of dried-out millipedes all over your freshly cleaned floors. The key takeaway here is to not panic because, other than being a nuisance, millipedes don’t cause any damage to your house. 

Will Millipedes Lay Eggs Inside Your Home?

You may wonder what these millipedes are up to when they get inside. Are they setting up new colonies in the walls? Are they planning a hostile takeover? Will they lay billions of eggs that hatch and run us out of the house?

The answer to all those questions is a big “nope.” Millipedes don’t last long enough inside your house to do anything but crawl into a corner and curl up, because they dehydrate into exoskeleton husks. 

They need damp soil to lay their eggs. Since there’s nothing like that in your house, millipede eggs are not a concern you need to worry about. “What about my houseplants? There’s damp soil in there!” 

Usually, millipedes won’t last long enough to get to your houseplants, but if you have a lot of plants, a few millipedes might make it to them. If you see millipedes on your houseplants, just remove and dispose of them.

There is a possibility, if you have outdoor plants you bring in during the cold months, millipedes could have laid eggs in there. That’s a big “IF” because millipedes prefer decaying plant matter to living.

If surprisingly millipedes have laid eggs in your home, there are a few things you can do:

  • Remove all the millipedes and repot the plant.
  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the plant and the soil—it will finish off the millipedes without damaging the plant
  • Throw the plant out—not ideal, but it removes the problem.
  • Take the plant outside and the millipedes will most likely move on to more desirable living conditions. 

Millipedes Are Beneficial For Your Yard And Garden

Picture of the millipede group on the ground.Focus on millipede

If you can, try not to use lethal methods when controlling millipedes, because they are very beneficial to the environment. Millipedes are excellent recyclers of dead and rotting plant material, and they take their jobs very seriously. 

Without millipedes, the earth would have a hard time breaking down all the leaves that fall every autumn. They also help to break down tree stumps, rotting logs, and even your compost pile. In terms of usefulness, millipedes rank beside or maybe even just above earthworms. 

You may have heard of millipedes destroying gardens, but they do little damage to strong, healthy plants.

During times of drought, or if there aren’t any yummy leaves around to snack on, millipedes can eat small, tender seedlings. When that happens, it’s usually desperate behavior because there isn’t anything else for them to eat. 

That’s A Wrap!

The biggest thing to remember when you see millipedes in your house is that they mean no harm, and do no damage.

They can certainly be a pain to clean up after they expire, and they are unsightly, but there are several steps to take to reduce or eliminate them from sneaking in. 

From setting up dehumidifiers in damp areas, sealing up cracks and gaps, or just letting time take its course, millipedes aren’t the worst pests to find in your house.

hey won’t mess up any food, or eat through your walls like some other pests. No bugs are welcome in your house, but millipedes are some of the least concerning ones that get inside. 

References

Bulpitt, Gregory. Congregating behavior and response to resource distribution of the Green House Millipede, Oxidus gracilis. No. e2642v1. PeerJ Preprints.

O’Neill, Robert V. “Adaptive responses to desiccation in the millipede, Narceus americanus (Beauvois).” American Midland Naturalist (1969): 578-583

Sridhar, K. R., and C. N. Ambarish. “Pill millipede compost: a viable alternative to utilize urban organic solid waste.” Current Science (2013): 1543-1547.

Dehghani, Rouhullah, et al. “A survey on residential areas infestation to house pests (Arthropods) in Kashan.” Zahedan Journal of Research in Medical Sciences 15.12 (2013)

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