In recent days, many of you have probably noticed a brown, hard bodied, worm-like pest around your home and landscape. This pest is the millipede or “thousand-legged worm,” they have become a nuisance to many areas of the county recently.
Millipedes are scavengers and feed mostly on decaying organic matter. They normally hide in compost piles or mulched areas, under clods of dirt or in cracks in the ground. Other hiding places are between sod and sidewalks or foundations. The millipedes sometimes leave their natural habitats at night and crawl about over sidewalks, patios and up wall of buildings. When they seek their hiding place for the day, some will even enter the home. Even though they cause little or no damage in the home they are nuisances.
Some preventative measures can be to remove food and potential hiding places near the home. Eliminate any damp areas around and inside the home. Clean up boards, rocks, leaves and plant debris. If flowerbeds are close to the house do not apply heavy organic mulch. Also, caulk or repair any cracks around basements doors, windows and other areas of the foundation.
When it is not practical to clean up all the millipede habitats, or if there is a constant migration from nearby wooded areas, you can use insecticide sprays for further protection. The effect of insecticides on millipedes is sometimes slow so do not expect quick results. Pay attention to treating the habitats that you could not eliminate. Apply a general protective barrier 6 to 10 feet wide on the ground around the house. Also spray the sides of the house up to the level of the first story windows. Be sure to wet the walls thoroughly with spray. The applications may need to be repeated. Some of the following insecticides may be used to control millipedes outside the home: Bifenthrin, Malathion, or Sevin. Use these insecticides carefully and read all label directions before using.
For more information, contact the Harlan County Cooperative Extension Service at 606-573-4464.
Jeremy Williams is the Harlan County extension agent for agriculture & natural resources. Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.