Millipedes (Class Diplopoda)

Millipede

Significance

All millipedes are vegetarian, feeding on damp rotting plant material often covered with moulds and fungi. They tend to frequent damp places and will usually dry out if they come indoors.

They are not of any significance in public health but can cause distress if they invade domestic premises food preparation areas. Their intrusion into such areas is only as a casual intruder and in no way constitutes a health hazard.

Occasionally they occur in large numbers in houses, most frequently in the autumn, when they appear to seeking overwintering sites. Very large numbers of millipedes may be found indoors during such an invasion and it seems that this behaviour occurs worldwide. In fact there are references in the literature to trains being prevented from running due to millipede invasion of railway lines.

Control

If remedial action is required then residual synthetic pyrethroid should provide an effective barrier if applied to cracks, crevices and other access points.

Attention to hygiene outside the building, such as the removal of leaf litter etc will help to remove breed sites.

Key Features

These are long-bodied animals, with great variation in size up to 30 mm with as many as 30 to 60 segments in their body. Each body segment, which is almost circular in cross section, has two pairs of legs associated with it.

They are relatively slow moving animals and in the UK most species are either dark brown or black.

Although not insects, millipedes are often encountered by the pest controller, particularly in and around gardens.

Early stage larvae may be confused with springtails, order Collembola, and pill millipedes may be confused with woodlice.

Biology

Each female millipede will lay a number of eggs in an egg mass, which is secreted in a crevice in the s some of which are elaborately constructed by the females.

The number of eggs produced by each of the females varies greatly and can be as few as 10 in so species and as many as 300 in others.

The eggs incubate for a number of days (in some cases it can take weeks) and from the eggs emerge young millipedes which often have only three segments, each with a pair of legs, and the development from there is gradual with around four segments being added at each moult.

Millipedes are generally active at night but some come out after daytime rains.

For free advice on any aspect of pest control in your home, garden or commercial premises, please call CSS on 0800 254 5003.

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