The Q&A Archives: Millipedes

Question: When I find one of the perennials in my garden looking really bad and or dying I usually find that millipedes have eaten the roots or at least the base of the stem. I keep losing my favorite delphiniums and lupines. What do I do too protect them?

Answer: Millipedes are hard-shelled, worm-like animals with many segments. Their legs are uniformly spaced along their body. Most segments bear 2 pairs of legs. The adults are 1-2 inches long and are brown, tan or gray. When disturbed, millipedes curl up.

Millipedes are scavengers, feeding on decaying organic matter. Often they are found in groups under leaf litter, mulch, tree bark, flower pots, damp cracks and crevices and refuse piles. Sometimes they may feed on roots and plant parts.

Millipedes are slow moving animals that may enter buildings and cause annoyance. Because they need high humidity, they often die quickly indoors. They do not bite humans or damage articles in the home.

If found indoors, remove by vacuuming. Discourage these animals by changing their habitat and removing their food source. Keep planting beds free of mulch along building foundations. Prevent accumulations of leaves and other organic waste. Remove potential moist resting sites, such as loose boards, stones and pots. Caulking cracks and crevices can keep most of these animals from entering the house.

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