Catching millipedes crawling across basement floors or emerging in bathrooms prompts concerns over potential household infestations. But do these many-legged arthropods truly colonize human dwellings? Understanding millipede behaviors, habitats, and capabilities provides realistic perspective on their occasional indoor appearances.
Do Millipedes Invade Homes?
The term “infest” implies large established populations inside human structures. Regarding millipedes, key factors determine whether true infestations occur:
- Millipedes cannot nest, breed, or proliferate entirely indoors. Indoor environments lack suitable food, moisture, and breeding habitats.
- Millipedes only enter homes incidentally when flooded out of their natural outdoor habitats or migrating seasonally.
- Once indoors, millipedes aim only to return outside again.
- They do not intentionally colonize human dwellings or rely on homes for survival.
- Numbers dwindle indoors over time without breeding and sustenance.
So while influxes happen, long-term infestations are not part of millipede biology. Their indoor occurrences remain temporary migrations, not permanent colonization.
Do Millipedes Reside Indoors?
The requirements for millipede habitation make interior living unsuitable:
- Millipedes rely on decaying plant matter outdoors for food. Home interiors lack natural suitable nutrition sources.
- Breeding requires moist soils, leaf litter, rotting wood, and other outdoor substrates absent indoors.
- Millipedes lose moisture easily from their thin cuticles. Low humidity indoors can dehydrate them.
- Access to soil and darkness is required for molting cycles.
- Exposed indoor environments lack hiding spots from predators.
- Cool basements may provide temporary relief from heat, but other indoor areas prove inhospitable long-term.
These deficiencies mean entire millipede life cycles cannot be achieved solely indoors, only temporary shelter.
Why Do Millipedes Enter Homes?
Millipedes usually appear in homes coincidentally, not intentionally:
- Heavy rains force millipedes to migrate from flooded lawns up foundations into dry homes.
- Withering drought and heat prompt relocation from parched yards into cooler interior spaces.
- Cooler fall weather spurs breeding migrations that lead incidentally indoors.
- Cracks, vents, and gaps along foundations and siding permit indoor entry from nearby leaf litter or woodpiles during migrations.
- Plumbing leaks create soggy conditions that displace soil-dwelling millipedes inside.
Most millipedes aim only to pass through briefly on their way to suitable habitat, not take up permanent indoor residence.
Signs of Millipede Presence
Telltale signs reveal transient millipede activity within homes:
- Live millipedes crawling across floors, especially basements and bathrooms.
- Leggy curled up millipede corpses.
- Molted brown exoskeleton shells.
- Blackish oily secretions on walls from smashed millipedes.
- Strong odor of defensive millipede spraying.
- Pinpoint chew marks on damp paper products.
- Congregations around weep holes, sump pumps, or foundation cracks.
While concerning, these only indicate temporary usage, not entrenched infestations.
Millipede Prevention and Removal
Though not permanent household pests, keeping migrant millipedes at bay requires vigilance:
- Install dehumidifiers to dry overly moist basements and crawlspaces.
- Seal cracks, expansion joints, vents, and utility points of entry with caulk, concrete, screen, or foam.
- Clear rotting leaves, wood, compost, and vegetation far from foundations.
- Fix leaky plumbing and foundation drainage issues.
- Apply insecticides labeled for millipedes around probable entry points.
- Inside, collect migrants with sticky traps or gentle sweeping onto dustpans for removal.
With diligence, homes can be made inhospitable to periodic millipede migrants.
Are Millipedes Harmful Indoors?
Indoor millipedes themselves pose minimal hazards despite alarming homeowners with their presence:
- They do not spread disease, bite, or sting. Their mouthparts only chew decomposing vegetation.
- At most, pinned millipedes may release skin-irritating defensive secretions. But overall they are harmless.
- Millipedes accidentally trapped in bathtubs and sinks may drown otherwise.
- Larger species like giant millipedes may emit a foul odor when threatened.
The only damage may be minor paper chewing from trapped migrants seeking an exit. Gently sweeping them back outdoors or collecting with sticky traps causes little harm to home or millipede.
FAQ About Household Millipede Infestations
Are millipedes bad to have in your house?
Millipedes themselves pose no real harm indoors beyond a nuisance factor from their unsettling appearance. They do not damage structures, possessions, or spread illness. Their presence is indicative of excess moisture or gaps needing remedy to prevent ongoing seasonal entries.
What attracts millipedes into your home?
Millipedes enter homes coincidentally, not due to attraction to indoor conditions. Nearby leaf litter harboring millipedes allows easy access when flooding or drought forces migration. Fixing cracks, improving drainage, and clearing vegetative debris helps prevent incidental indoor influxes.
Will millipedes infest my house?
True household infestations of breeding millipede colonies do not occur long-term since homes lack suitable food and habitat. Indoor millipede populations dwindle over time without reproducing. Their appearances are temporary migrations through foundations, not permanent establishments.
Should I worry about millipedes in my basement?
Basement millipedes may indicate excessive moisture levels that require dehumidifying. But the millipedes themselves pose no threats other than an unsettling presence. Reduce cracks and improve drainage to prevent future indoor migrations. Capture and remove strays using gloves or sticky traps.
How do you keep millipedes from coming inside?
Apply pesticides around likely entry points and seal cracks in foundations to block indoor access routes. Fix plumbing leaks, improve drainage, and reduce exterior leaf litter and rotting wood habitat adjacent to homes. Installing dehumidifiers helps deter moisture-loving millipedes.
What home remedies keep millipedes away?
Natural repellents like diatomaceous earth sprinkled around outdoor foundations may discourage millipedes from entering. Eucalyptus oil also deters them. Ensure door sweeps and weather stripping seal tightly to prevent passage indoors. Traps collect stragglers inside.
Will pest control get rid of millipedes in my house?
Since millipedes cannot breed and multiply within homes, pest control focuses on prevention via sealing cracks and improving moisture control. This limits further migrations indoors. Traps remove stray millipedes inside but extermination services have little effect on temporary indoor populations.
Homeowners may feel uneasy seeing scores of millipedes crawling through basements or ground floor living spaces. But their biology simply does not allow permanent establishment away from natural outdoor habitats. With thoughtful exclusion and monitoring, homes can remain relatively free of these occasional multi-legged visitors that only pass through seeking more suitableenvirons.