A reader concerned about an “outrageous infestation” of small brown worms outside her home sent in this image below of a small worm with a triangular tipped tail and a brown, ridged body.
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Our reader says she is “desperate” to be rid of these creatures, which come out during the night and make spending time on her porch uncomfortable as they cover its surface. Although it might be of small comfort to our reader, we are able to identify the creature as a millipede! This one in particular is about as generic of a millipede as you can find. These critters, although appearing worm-like, are arthropods, meaning they have legs underneath their bodies (which are difficult to see from the picture) that are joint at several segments. Most millipedes have about three pairs of legs per segment, thus having a total of 160 along their inch (to one-and-a-half-inch) long bodies.
Millipedes thrive in cool, damp environments where they can feed off decaying plant matter and other organic matter. In the case of our reader, who lives in a new housing development, millipedes will hide during the hot day, either in the crooks of door frames and windowsills, in the shade of rocks, or underneath wood. This is why the millipedes are so prevalent during the night. Additionally, our reader has pointed out that rocks have been piled around her property. Unfortunately, this does little to stop millipedes from coming to her property. In fact, it might be the rocks around the reader’s property that are housing these millipedes during the day.
The solution to this infestation is not as simple as using bug spray or bleach as our reader has already tried. Not only do we not recommend using insecticides or other means of killing creatures, especially in the case of millipedes, who are not pests but beneficial to the environment, but this will not prevent more millipedes from appearing at one’s home. The best one can do to prevent a millipede infestation is to rid one’s property of any damp areas where the millipedes may be residing. This may decrease the number of millipedes that come onto one’s property as they are forced to find shelter elsewhere. Otherwise, the best one can do is wait it out until the colder seasons come and the millipedes disperse. In the mean time, perhaps when our reader wishes to go out on her porch, she can sweep the millipedes gently onto the ground. Although this is not a long-term solution to the issue, it may ease her mind in the moment when she wishes to relax on her porch without thinking of the millipedes.
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To conclude, the worm that our reader is asking about is a common millipede. They are not pests, nor are they harmful to the environment or people. Infestations can nonetheless be understandably aggravating, and so the best one can do to reduce the number of millipedes on one’s property is to make sure they do not have access to areas on one’s property that mimic their natural habitat.