Earlier this week we heard from a reader in Alabama who just moved into a new house. Every day she finds 15-40 critters (dead and alive) in the master bathroom. All of the carpets are new and she confirmed that the creatures are not hiding in the area rugs. She has been discovering these organisms for two weeks and is anxious to know where they are coming from! Here is the photograph she sent us:
We believe that our reader has been finding millipedes in her bathroom. Millipedes are arthropods that belong to the Diplopoda Class in the Myriapoda Group. Millipedes have segmented bodies, with two pairs of legs per body segment, and antennae. They are often confused for centipedes, which occupy the same habitat: moist, protected outdoor environments, like rotting leaves and under stones. While centipedes are carnivores, millipedes are detritivores that feed primarily on decaying organic material. Also, centipedes only have one pair of legs per body segment.
Unfortunately, we are unable to provide a complete answer for other question she asked: Where are the millipedes coming from? They are definitely coming in from the outside, perhaps seeking shelter from cold temperatures or an abundance of rain. How they are getting in remains a mystery. They might be creeping in through open or unsealed windows or doors, the tiny cracks between the walls and floors, or an unsealed vent in the basement where things are damper and cooler in temperature. Sealing off the potential entry points with a caulking gun is the first step to getting rid of these unwanted visitors.
Next, our reader should continue to remove the critters by hand. If she doesn’t want to touch them, she can use a small broom and dustpan. Fortunately, millipedes are harmless and they don’t move very quickly. She also might consider making her home less hospitable to millipedes. Installing a dehumidifier and sweeping every day to eliminate debris is any easy way to do so. Finally, she can make her yard and the area around her house less ideal for millipedes to inhabit. This includes clearing all dead and decaying plant matter from around the house, using as little mulch as possible in the gardens, and moving compost piles far away from the house.
To wrap up, while the presence of millipedes can be unsettling, our reader doesn’t need to stress too much about them. She should focus on sealing any potential entry points and continue removing them by hand in the mean time.