Is it a Worm or a Millipede?

If you witnessed a worm-like creature, with what appears to be more than 100 legs, racing across your kitchen floor, chances are it wasn’t really a worm. While it’s easy to mistake these leggy creatures for worms due to their elongated segmented-like bodies, the more accurate you are at identifying them, the better you will be at controlling a possible infestation. This worm-like creature can pass for a worm if you’re not paying attention, but the truth is, it’s actually an immature millipede.

Immature Millipedes

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When millipedes first hatch, they only have around three pairs of legs, giving the appearance of a worm. Keep in mind that the millipede’s legs multiply rather rapidly. Additional millipede legs grow after each molt. Millipede eggs are either white, creamy yellow, or brown. They are smooth and spherical, and toughly 0.4 mm in diameter. Because of a sticky secretion, millipede eggs adhere in clusters. Millipede larvae are smaller than adults, of course.

Adult Millipedes

Adult millipedes range in color from gray to brown. These anthropods are worm-like with cylindrical bodies. They are typically 13 to 38 mm long with a pair of short antennae. The adult millipede has at least 30 pairs of legs, although it can look like they have much more. So much more that the millipede earned the nicknames “thousand-legged worm,” “thousand-legged spider,” and “hundred-legged worm.” Millipedes have a large number of segments with at least two legs attached to most body segments. While it may look like millipedes mover at warp speed, they actually move very slowly as their legs move in a wave-like motion.

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Although millipedes and centipedes may look alike at first glance, a second look will reveal many differences. Centipedes have flattened bodies and a pair of long, slender antennae. They also have a pair of claws just behind the head. Centipedes have roughly 15 pairs of long legs and only one pair on most of its body segments. Centipedes are the faster of the two, so they are tougher to catch.

Where Millipedes Live and What they Eat

Millipedes (and centipedes) live in just about every part of the world. Millipedes prefer to live in dark, damp places, while centipedes prefer places where they can hunt for insects and spiders. The millipede prefers to eat moist, decaying organic matter. Chances are, most people will come across a millipede and not a centipede, specifically the greenhouse millipede.

What Damages can Millipedes cause?

The types of millipedes and centipedes that enter homes usually do not bite. They do feed on vegetation and they can do damage to turf. Just because millipedes don’t bite, this doesn’t mean that these anthropods are welcome visitors. If you see many of them in a short period of time, they can become a nuisance.

How to Control Millipedes

One of the easiest ways to control millipede populations is to take away their food and shelter source. If you destroy their feeding and breeding grounds they will hunt for another place to dine and reproduce. Other ways to control millipede populations in the home is to repair (seal) splits and cracks in foundation walls, and around doors, basement windows, and similar openings. Properly ventilated basements and crawl spaces are a turn off for millipedes (and centipedes) as well. And finally, some basic cleaning should help as well. If you remove food sources, clean, repair cracks, and destroy all food and shelter sources and you still see a millipede or two here and there, you can try chemical control. Visit any hardware or home and garden retailer to browse through a number of effective options.

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