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Millipede migration now in full swing

POSTED: June 20, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Extension offices around Northeast Georgia have been buzzing with calls about all sorts of problems and issues, but the one problem high on the list is millipedes in the house.

Calls about them have slowed a bit this week, but I was looking at Forsyth County Extension’s newsletter and extension agent Heather Kolich wrote about the pesky insect. So this month, I thought I would share her advice with you.

This is from a newsletter she sent out:

It’s spring and the millipede migration has begun. So for the past few weeks, my morning routine has included scooping up dozens of millipedes traversing my kitchen floor.

Garden millipedes (Oxidus gracilis), also known as greenhouse millipedes, may enter homes in large numbers as they migrate.

While they prefer to live outdoors — helpfully cleaning the environment by eating dead plant material — they don’t seem to alter their migratory path to avoid obstacles such as houses. If they can’t find places to go through a house, they try to climb over it.

Millipedes move at night and wet weather increases the urgency of the migration. Hence, the seasonal addition to my morning routine.

While having millipedes migrate through your house is a nuisance, these arthropods are not poisonous. They don’t bite, they don’t carry diseases and they don’t damage a home or household goods.

The best way to prevent an invasion is to seal cracks, crevices and openings around doors and windows through which millipedes enter the house. Removing their habitat — deep mulch and leaf litter, thick lawns with heavy thatch, and objects on the ground creating moist environments and hiding places, such as rock piles, boards and plant containers — from the immediate proximity of your house can help. If millipedes are harboring at a distance, there’s a better chance your home won’t be in the migratory path of every advancing squad.

The spring millipede migration will end. As warmer, drier weather moves in, you should stop seeing them in your home. If you’re experiencing excessive numbers of multi-legged invaders, applying an insecticide around the outer perimeter of the house may provide temporary relief. However, if the home isn’t adequately sealed, the millipedes may continue to crawl inside, only to die on your floor a few feet from their entry point.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, www.hallcounty.org/extension. His column appears weekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.


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