Millipedes can be quite troublesome. These long and squirmy creatures love to live under things and like it damp and earthy. Some people refer to millipedes as “thousand leggers”. In reality, they have two legs attached to each segment, and this is part of what a lot of people find so disturbing if a millipede runs across their hand.
If you are finding that you cannot stand living with your current millipede population then here are some tips for getting rid of them or at the very least drastically reducing their population. It may take a little bit of time, but millipedes are usually not very hard to deal with on your own.
Remove Woody Debris
If you have a lot of downed wood around your home or piles of firewood, then you are helping attract millipedes to your home. Burning piles of wood may be a good way in some areas if allowed and if conditions are right. Landfills often accept woody debris for little or no fee from homeowners. Anything with nails or other sharp objects embedded can be burned, but you may want to use a magnet to get the metal up afterward or make sure to sweep the area well.
Clean up Around Your Home
Things that sit for a long time on the ground are a likely place to find millipedes. If you lift up a wheel barrow that has been upside down you might find a lot of millipedes.
Keep up with Grass Cutting
Keeping your grass cut shorter will discourage millipedes. This is one of the more easy things you can do, and it will also make your home look a lot better so why not make the effort? Raking your lawn or using a riding mower that bags or mulches grass up finely will help as well.
If you can’t keep your grass cut, there are a lot of people that will take care of it for you for a fairly low fee. It is better than letting things become overgrown and full of bugs.
Reduce the Urge to over Mulch
Very thick mulches encourage millipede colonies. If you use wood mulches, make sure they are no more than 4 inches thick and avoid using mulch within a few feet of the foundation of your home or whatever building you are trying to reduce millipedes around. This will also make sure that your load of mulch goes a lot further thus saving you some time and money as well.
Improve or Replace Guttering
Reducing the volume of water near your home’s foundation is crucial to keeping millipedes away for the long term future. Gutters with holes or leaks in them should be patched or replaced if in too bad condition. Seamless gutters with screens are a good choice for many homeowners.
These types of gutters come in many different colors to match your home. The cost of purchasing guttering and having it professionally installed is often not much more than if you had to buy the materials yourself. Your local roofing contractor gets a much better deal on guttering and can thus pass the savings on to you.
Seal Cracks and Gaps Around Your Home
Cracks and gaps near your foundation are great hiding places for millipedes. If you have foundation vents, make sure that they have a fine enough screen to prevent millipedes from entering your home. There are a lot of products for sealing gaps and cracks around the home.
Spray foam insulation or caulk is inexpensive. Caulk is often paintable so you can seal your home without it standing out too much. Cracks in concrete can be patched with topping mix or specialty compounds made specifically for cracks in concrete.
Checking for cracks and gaps around your home is often best done at night and requires two people. One person stands on one side of a wall or basement, and the other shines a flashlight. If any light shines through then this is a spot that needs to be sealed. You can mark the spot with a dab of paint or a marker, whatever works for you, and then come back during daylight hours and seal it. It is advisable to do this around doors and windows as well if you can.
Sweeping and Vacuuming
If you are getting millipedes in your home, then you can use a vacuum or broom to get them out of there. Although a regular vacuum will work in many cases, if you have a lot to deal with, a shop vac will do a better job of getting them up before they have a chance to run away.
Just be sure to empty your vacuum outside rather quickly. Millipedes can live a surprisingly long time in a dusty vacuum so just dump it, so there are no surprises later on.
Check Moisture Levels in Your Home
If you have a lot of moisture in your house, then millipedes can be a big problem. Homes and travel trailers sometimes suffer from moisture issues for a variety of reasons. Check pipes to make sure they are not leaking and causing a lot of moisture and possible structural damage around your home.
You can get a humidity gauge for your home. If you have a lot of moisture, than getting a dehumidifier will help remove it. Make sure to get a dehumidifier that can deal with a home your size. You may need to get several different size units to combat a moisture issue. Part of this depends on the air flow patterns of your home. If you have central heat and air, you can have a dehumidifier added into your system.
A lot of the dehumidifiers you order have to be emptied and cleaned regularly. The smaller the dehumidifier, the more often you are going to need to empty it. If you forget, the dehumidifier will likely just shut off and stop doing its job until you empty it. This is one appliance where you get what you pay for. It is well worth it to add it to an existing system if you have the ability to do so. It is one of the cheaper components of central heat and air systems.
Millipedes are usually manageable using non chemical methods. If you are fed up and have not had success with organic methods, then you can attempt to use pesticides. It is important to remember that some pesticides are not supposed to be applied near water, and many do not work so well in moist areas, so results from the use of pesticides might not be the happy and simple solution you hoped for.
Some pesticides are more effective than others against millipedes. Formulas that contain propoxur, cyfluthrin, pyrethrins, piperonyl butoxide, amorphous silica gel, deltamethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, hexa-hydroxyl, cypermethrin, and bifenthrin are all efficient and worthy of consideration.
Only mix pesticides as directed. Using too much can cause more harm to the environment and encourages millipedes to become resistant to what is working for you at the time.
If you make the decision to use sprays make sure to treat any areas where you think millipedes might be. If you have a wood pile for example, you may want to spray there. Be aware that what you spray may harm other things that live in your wood pile such as lizards.
Some sprays are rated to be safe to use for killing millipedes on contact indoors. Usually, you just aim and spray and then sweep up or vacuum the dead millipede. If you or someone in your home has allergies or has been sensitive to pesticides in the past then this is something to consider before you spray much. You may need to open a window if you use very much spray at all.
Organic Pesticide Solutions
This special substance is mined from the earth. It is made of fossilized diatoms that are sharp. It comes as a powder and is sometimes just called DE. This product can cause eye irritation as it is dust and it can make you cough if you inhale it, but other than that it is nontoxic to humans. Food grade diatomaceous earth is so safe that some people eat it as part of a natural cleanse regime. To discourage millipedes, you simply spread this dust in cracks and crevices. DE works well in damp locations unlike a lot of chemical pesticides. You don’t have to worry about your pets being harmed by DE either as it is added to some pet products.
Dried Boric Acid
Boric acid comes in a powder and is highly effective in ridding areas of millipedes, roaches, and other insects. This powder is often a component in commercial bug products, but you can get it in its pure form. Borax contains some boric acid but is not as concentrated as actual boric acid powder. Simply sprinkle in cracks and crevices and you will see a definite reduction of insects around your home.
Boric acid is easy to order online in larger containers, or you can go to almost any farm and garden or home improvement store and get a product that has boric acid as the main active ingredient. This is a relatively harmless natural pesticide that is used in commercial eye washes and for rinsing wounds.
Backyard Chickens = No Millipedes
Chickens love to scratch, pick, and eat grass and insects. Keeping a few hens is allowed even in a lot of towns. In fact, the backyard chicken craze has led to a lot of towns that would not allow chickens, relaxing their rules and allowing 3-5 hens but no roosters due to the noise they cause.
A large chicken will stay in a lot of fences so long as the bottom parts of the wire are narrow enough that they cannot squeeze through. You will also be getting some delicious pastured eggs that go for a premium at farmers markets and grocery stores. You can buy small chicken enclosures for protecting them at night or containing them when needed. Some people use pens with no bottom that they can easily move around their yard when hens want a fresh patch of grass to pick at.
While cats don’t eat millipedes, they do like to chase them which could keep them out of your house and away from your foundation. If you already have a cat, then they are probably helping at least some already. They are not an all out solution, but every little bit helps.
Get Rid of Leaves
A lot of damp and decaying leaves will provide a great place for millipedes to make their home. Bag up or otherwise dispose of leaves in your yard. Over time your millipede problem can become quite bad. If you like to compost make sure your leaf pile is well away from your home if you don’t want to be bothered by millipedes. If you like to garden, then millipedes are going to be at least a small part of your life, but you can keep them at a more comfortable distance with a little effort.
Calling in the Pros
If you really can’t seem to make any progress with your millipede problem, you can call a professional, but this is going to cost quite a bit. The larger the space treated the higher the cost. Most people do not go this route unless they are experiencing other pest issues and feel like calling a pro is the easiest solution for dealing with a lot of problems at once.
Make sure that when you talk to a professional, you are clear about your pest control goals. You don’t want to pay for more than you need nor do you want to overlook something important. Checking reviews of previous customers is advisable if you don’t know a lot about a pest control company. Make sure you are fully aware of what type of charges you can expect.