“These began popping up all over my elderly mom’s basement apartment in the last few days”, writes RK about the black, worm-like creature pictured below. “We have seen a couple dozen or so to date. They seem to be hatching from somewhere inside although we can’t figure out where. They are darker colored and appear segmented, but no legs or wings are visible. We have seen sizes from less than an inch to an inch or two. The basement recently underwent renovation so I don’t know if something could have been brought in that way or not. Could you provide information regarding what they may be? Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.”
To begin with, we want to thank RK for the excellent images: they really help us narrow down the possible identifications for the organism. Because of these great pictures, as well as the ample context RK provided, we have identified these as millipedes. Her mother has nothing to fear: millipedes are harmless. The most they can do is secrete a fluid when threatened that could cause allergic reactions (stinging and stinging) upon physical contact. For that reason, we recommend that RK’s mother avoids touching the millipedes. Now, what is fascinating about this case is the other two photos RK sent in, which seems to show the millipedes curled up inside a translucent, skin-like material. We think RK managed to capture the process of molting on camera: the process by which a creature sheds its skin to grow bigger. We have never received images like this, and it is incredible to witness.
So with that in mind, why are all these millipedes in the basement? Well, because the basement provides a hospitable environment for millipedes; they prefer damp and dark habitats where they won’t dry out. So, when it gets too hot or dry outside, millipedes will often seek shelter in people’s homes, specifically in their basements or garages. The best way to keep millipedes out of the basement is through prevention. If there are any piles of rocks, sticks, or leaves in the yard, removing them will help discourage millipedes from even approaching the house, as it is in these piles that they love to hide in.
On top of that, it is best to keep rooms as dry and warm as possible to make them inhospitable for millipedes. Since this basement was recently renovated, it sounds like it might be easier to achieve a dry and warm climate there. In terms of removing the millipedes that are already there, we recommend scooping them onto a dustpan and moving them outside, preferably somewhere far away from the house. Of course, we understand that RK’s mother is elderly, so RK might have to help her mom out with this.
In conclusion, the black, worm-like critters RK’s mom found in her basement are just millipedes. They are harmless benefactors of the environment and should not be killed. We hope this helps and we wish RK and her mother the very best!
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