Brown and Black Worms that Curl into a Circle

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A while ago a reader wrote to us about some brown and black worms she is finding all over her apartment, including on her tile floor and the rug in her bedroom, as well as on the walls of her house. When they die, the worms “curl into a circle.” The reader refers to the worms in quotes, indicating that she is using the term loosely, and we think she is right in doing this, as it seems she is finding millipedes. However, the reader anticipated this suggestion, and said that she thinks the creatures she is finding are too skinny to be millipedes. So, below we explore our reader’s situation in more depth, trying to decipher if she found millipedes or something else.

In radical contrast to some of the questions we receive, the reader wrote us a thorough and lucid description of her problem, which we will quote in its entirety so that her full situation is understood. She also didn’t provide a picture, so her words are all we have. Here is her email to us:

“These “worms” are brown or black, about 3/4 of an inch long, very thin, and when they die they usually curl into a circle. Most the time they are on the tile floor, but recently I have found them on my rug in the bedroom and a few have been crawling on the wall. I have found them all over the concrete floor of my patio area. I can’t seem to find where they are coming from. One minute I look on the floor and it looks clear, 10 seconds later I look at the same area and there’s one crawling, like it came from nowhere. So far I have killed hundreds. RAID seems to do the trick the best, but the smell is making me sick and they still keep coming!!!!!!! My place looks like a war zone with all the tiny dead carcasses. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture. I live in a nice size apartment, which is basically the basement of a house in Vermont. I like it here but I can’t put up with much more of this. Please help! Could you possibly identify what ever they are? I think they are too skinny to be millipedes. Thank you for any assistance you can give.”

Clearly, the reader is confronting a fairly bad problem, and unfortunately getting rid of any sort of pest can be difficult. However, the first step is identifying the pest, and we think she found millipedes, despite her belief to the contrary. We think this because a few factors point in this direction, and nothing else in her description points us in a different direction.

First, the “worms” she is finding curl into a circle when they are killed, and this is exactly what millipedes do when they are threatened. (They do this to protect their vulnerable underside with their hardened backs.) So, a millipede that is in the process of being killed (or is already dead) would naturally coil up. They coil after shuffling off this mortal coil. Second, the reader’s apartment is in a basement, and basements (along with garages) are probably the most common place in a house to find millipedes. (We have specifically written about basements and millipedes before.) Basements tend to be darker and damper then other regions of a house, and thus millipedes often make their way there. Finally, the reader mentions that the smell in her apartment is making her sick, and although this no doubt can be partially attributed to the RAID, it is worth mentioning that millipedes are known to smell bad. (Like the coiling, the secretion of foul-smelling chemicals is a defense mechanism.) The foul smell could therefore be partially attributed to the millipedes, if this is in fact what she is finding. So, despite their slender body shape (which doesn’t really seem to count against the millipede hypothesis anyway), it seems most likely that our reader is finding millipedes.

Of course, we are far from certain this is the case, but it is the best suggestion we can offer based on what we know of our reader’s situation. And if she is finding millipedes, she might consider reading our article about millipedes in the house, which gives some basic advice about getting rid of the creatures. We wish our reader the best of luck, and hope she can handle the problem swiftly and smoothly.


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Brown and Black Worms that Curl into a Circle
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Brown and Black Worms that Curl into a Circle
Below we explore our reader's situation in more depth, trying to decipher is she found millipedes or something else.

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12 thoughts on “Brown and Black Worms that Curl into a Circle

  1. These are wireworms and they feed on rotting wood and debris. In the fall they seem to mark towards the house during the night and an outdoor light will really draw them to the house. There is a chemical that a home extension agent told me to sprinkle the perimeter of the house with, but I can’t remember that name. I used to catch them and give them to the chickens, they wolf them down! No chickens now, so I need to find that chemical to buy and put out, that’s the reason I came here.

  2. Hello, DK!

    If you would like to submit your question, along with a picture, at the email link on the right-hand side of every page, we will be happy to see if we can identify them for you!


  3. Hello All, I live in Nova Scotia Canada and it was around 4 years ago, is when I first came to witness hundreds of these black, lighter brownish like worms. By the hundreds. coming out from under my driveway and lawn. I kid you not, I have killed hundreds each day. This happens each time it rains for two or three days, with no let up. They have no legs, and seen to inch their way along. as some of the folks here described it. These 3/4 to one inch long worm like. They crawl through water and seem to sense drier places. Here to escape the saturated ground. They come by the hundreds, and when they get here on the concrete floor of my carport, most die. Or so it seems and as you have described in, curl a half round circle. My question is “WHAT IN GOD’s Name Are These !!

  4. SAME problem with brown or black 1 inch long hard shell worms…never had this problem before. Find them occasionally in my house. is there a solution getting ride of them and why are they coming around now…is it the wet weather maybe … this is a first for me…please help

  5. I live in Greenville, SC and this looks like what I have been trying to get accurate information. A little worried because I don’t know if this is poisonist, does it sting/bite, how to it enters into the house is my number #1 question. I have a toddler, I poured salt at the entry of the floor and it turns away but still manage to find a way in.


  6. Actually, I think I know what she’s talking about. We have millipedes everywhere in Florida, and everyone here sees then all the time and what she’s describing just doesn’t quite sound like that. It sounds, instead, like a Brahminy Blind snake. I don’t see these often, since they primarily stay outside and under soil, but every once in a while they can end up in the house. Usually during extreme weather or sometimes when pesticides are administered outside the house. I even saw one squirming around in the bakery where I work, but only once.

  7. I’m in Fort Lauderdale and I “RESCUE” about 2-3 a day. I’ll kill mosquitoes, moths and roaches with no regret, but these guys, though ugly, are harmless. So i just touch it, let it curl up, pick it up and deposit it outside. Interesting that I never actually see any of them outside, on my patio, or anywhere else, just in the house.

  8. Same as the rest, but we live near St. Augustine, FL. We never had any of these before this year, just walked outside to see if my grass is dry enough to cut as it rained all night and they are crawling all over my exterior walls. Inside, if they are on the carpet, we let them crawl onto a piece of paper, take them to a corner of the kitchen where we drop them and then a little spritz of RAID finishes them off.

  9. I’m having the same problem in my house in Mission, TX. These worms appear mostly at night in my front and back porch. I noticed there could be about 60 of them in my back porch under the light. I’ve found some inside my house too.How can I get rid of them.

  10. same problem here in Pompano Beach Florida. about an inch long never had this problem before this year. Where do they come from? What is generating them? Please advise. Thanks. Sue.

  11. We have the same coil worms in brown/black about an inch long ALL OVER the tile floors and stucco walls. in Pompano Beach Florida just cant help but to walk on one CRUNCH!!! Where do they come from? weve never had them before this year Any advice? Thanks.

  12. I’m having the same problem. They are coming in through the tracks of the sliding glass door in the kitchen. I’m not in a basement. I can take pictures, but not sure how to post it?

    Thank you for any help!

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