“What are these worms?” asks this reader in Ponte Vedra, FL. “I continuously have these dried up worms on my front porch”, she says about the black, curled-up worms pictured below.
“Over the past two days we’ve had a nor’easter (an East coast storm made up of winds coming from the North East) and dozens of these things are now on my porch”, she continues. “I saw a few coming into my back patio and have never seen them there before. They are long and have a normal roundness, and appear to stick to the surface unlike a normal worm. […] Within 12 hours they dried up.”
Based on our reader’s descriptions, as well as the pictures she provided, we think that these are millipedes. Millipedes are friends of the environment. They eat decomposing organic matter and make it into nutrient-rich fertilizer via digestion, much like the earthworm. They are not harmful to humans or pets, so they are not to be feared. Of course, we can imagine that finding so many of them is nonetheless unpleasant.
Millipedes are attracted to cool, damp environments, and when there is heavy rain (which we can imagine a nor’easter would have provided), they tend to seek shelter in buildings. In these times, they can come in droves and take over one’s basement, or indeed patio. Unfortunately, besides moving them with a dustpan or shovel, there is not much one can do so far as getting rid of their infestation. It is more about control and prevention.
Some of the most common, and effective, measures of control of millipede infestations include keeping one’s home warm and dry, avoiding excess irrigation of one’s lawn, and ridding one’s yard of piles of organic debris (twigs, leaves, rocks), especially those near the walls of one’s home.
As a side note, we want to add that millipedes tend to dry up with a lack of moisture, which is what we think happened in our reader’s case. It is sad to see, but it does make it easier to get rid of them. Likewise, when they die (or when they feel threatened while alive), they tend to curl up into C shapes like we see in two of the photos. They have also been known to play dead, so our reader should prepare herself if some of them start moving!
In conclusion, the worms our reader found dried up on her front porch are millipedes. They are not harmful, nor are they pests, but they can show up in large numbers during heavy rainfall. We hope the information in this article helps, and we wish our reader the very best.