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September 29, 2013
Kevin Williams - Grundy County Conservation Director , Reinbeck Courier

OK, I'm going to go out on a limb here, and say that you have probably noticed a millipede or two in and around your home this year. Am I right? If your home is anything like mine, you have certainly noticed them around the outside of your place this late summer and now early fall. On early morning trips outside, I have seen hundreds (my wife would say thousands) on the sidewalk, driveway, and porch. Fortunately, these little critters are pretty harmless. They do not feed upon building structures or furnishings and they cannot bite or sting. Millipedes cannot reproduce indoors. So, like I said earlier they are pretty harmless. Just try telling my wife that.

Millipedes live outdoors in damp areas such as under leaves, pine needles and dead plant debris. You can also find them in cracks and crevices around the house. They feed on damp and decaying vegetable matter and are beneficial as recyclers of organic matter. However, they become a pest when they migrate into buildings as accidental invaders. Millipedes are usually found in the garage, basement or lowest level although they may wander into other parts of the house. They are most active at night and usually hide during the day in cracks and other moist locations. Because they crawl along the ground, they are usually found in lower floors and basements. Once inside the home, they usually die due to desiccation, although in moist basements, they can survive longer.

Millipedes are similar to centipedes, but have two pairs of legs per body segment instead of one. Some people mistakenly refer to them as wireworms. Wireworms are actually the larval stage of a beetle that feeds on roots of plants. Millipedes are usually brown to blackish in color. The elongated body is rounded, not flattened, and they have no poison claws or legs and they usually coil up when disturbed.

Now I have shared with you about everything that I know about millipedes. I can say in this column that they are harmless and that any found inside wandered in by mistake. But I can also report that this information doesn't give any comfort to my wife as one slowly marches across the kitchen floor. All that is important right then is that we get rid of it.



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