The Q&A Archives: worms in soil of houseplants

Question: I have tiny millipedes in the soil of one of my houseplants. Can they harm the roots? If so, how can I get rid of 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, etc. Large populations can cause problems with plants because they will feed on roots. Diatomaceous Earth, the finely milled fossilized shells of minuscule organisms called diatoms, is registered for use indoors and outdoors against these critters. Be sure to follow label directions.

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