Invasion of the Millipedes!


Invasion of the Millipedes!           

                         Tara A. Spears

As a child growing up in the southern United States, we called these tiny insects ‘rolly pollies’ because they would curl up into a ball when you touched them. They were interesting to watch as all of their short legs move in unison in an undulating motion. We would see perhaps four or five a week. Flash forward to summer 2016: yikes, it’s an invasion of these crazy bugs! Last week produced the third wave of a new generation hatching since June. Every morning there are dozens of these insects drowned in the pool that need to be scooped out. They have invaded every room of the house; they are crawling up walls inside and out. Yuk. This year’s surge is the most I’ve ever seen.

Don’t worry though, these slow moving dark brown/blackish with lighter color legs is not harmful so don’t reach for the insect spray. This prolific insect-properly known as millipede- is a natural composter. They eat up dead leaves and flowers and keep gardens and forest floors clean. Millipedes tend to be nocturnal, but they have also been active during the early mornings in my neighborhood. Fortunately, these small millipedes don’t attack living plants or people.mill-2

Millipedes normally live outdoors in damp places. Around homes they live in flowerbeds and gardens. People find millipedes under mulch, piles of dead leaves, or under piles of grass clipping. Millipedes also prefer to live under structures like dog houses and storage sheds. Millipedes thrive in places where the soil stays damp. They eat dead leaves and decaying wood particles that they find. Eggs are deposited in the soil; most species reach sexual maturity in the second year and live several years after that.mill-3

In the fall, millipedes often migrate, moving out of their normal habitat. Scientists suspect that millipedes may be trying to get ready for winter. However, millipedes may also be seen migrating after a heavy rain has flooded their usual territory. During these migrations, millipedes often find their way into homes. In the wild, birds and some lizards are the natural control of millipede populations. One area lizard that eats lots of millipedes daily is the stunning five lined skink, commonly known as the blue tail skink. This is the best lizard to have in your yard!

Due to the exceptional number of millipedes the skink population has also increased due to the abundant food.


When they come to a dwelling, millipedes often gather on porches and patios. They climb the foundation of the home and they often find entryways. They enter through doors and windows, crawlspace vents, and garage doors. Many homeowners find millipedes hiding under furniture or boxes of stored items. Kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms are ideal habitats because of the moisture. If millipedes do gain entrance into your living space, using a broom or vacuum to remove millipedes is often an effective alternative to using chemical products.

Fortunately, when the rainy season ends the millipedes won’t be attracted to our homes but they will head back to their outdoor habitat.