“I found millipedes in the shower”, states this reader in his submission. “How do I get rid of them? Are they harmful?” he asks. No further context is provided, nor are any pictures attached to his submission, though we have taken the liberty of including a photo of a millipede from a past article. These critters are not worms, but arthropods, meaning they are segmented invertebrates that possess bodies with a hard outer layer (an exoskeleton). Arthropods also tend to have multiple pairs of legs joined at each segment, which millipedes are guilty of.
First, we think it important to address our reader’s second question: no, millipedes are not harmful. The most they can do to ‘harm’ a human is secrete a fluid which may cause irritation if one gets it on their skin. They only secrete this fluid if they feel threatened and are in immediate danger, but usually they just curl up in a ‘C’ shape and play dead. In fact, millipedes should be protected at all costs, as they play an important part in the ecosystem. Like earthworms, millipedes feed on decomposing organic matter and, through digestion, convert it into nutrient-rich faecal matter, which acts as a fertilizer when absorbed by the soil.
Secondly, we must address our reader’s other question. Getting rid of millipedes can be painstaking, as they are tough creatures. Insecticides do little to deter or kill them, though we never recommend the use of such agents anyway (as they are very toxic to humans as well), and they can show up in large numbers if the conditions are right. Millipedes are attracted to damp and cool environments, which is likely why they ended up in our reader’s shower. How they did so is another question. It is possible they came up through the drain, which may indicate that there is a leak in the water pipe somewhere underground through which the millipedes could have entered.
In any case, the best way to control and prevent millipede infestations is to make the conditions in one’s home unsuitable for them. This means keeping one’s home warm and dry. Plus, if they are coming up from the drains, then it is important to keep one’s drains clean (as it deters organisms who eat decomposing organic matter from being attracted to that drain), and to hire a professional to fix the leak. Signs of a leak include discolored or smelly water and changes in water pressure.
Additionally, moving the millipedes outside is the only way to get rid of the ones that are already inside. Likewise, to control millipede populations on one’s lawn, it is important to reduce the number of piles of organic litter (rocks, twigs and leaves) scattered across the property. This is especially vital for those piles that are leaning up against the walls of one’s home.
To conclude, this has been a brief look at the potential harmfulness of millipedes, and how to control their numbers. We hope this article helps, and we wish our reader the very best.
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