“Can you tell me what these are and where they are coming from?” asks this reader in South Georgia. “I had thousands of them last year”, she says of the small, dark brown worm-like organisms pictured below.
“I live in a small rural community”, she continues. “The local feed store could not tell me what they were, just that a lot of people had come in saying they came from their yard. Mine were found both times in my laundry room: not dead, just rolled up like they’re dead. They gave me some spray. It took three times until I finally got rid of them. […] I have found them in my bathtub, my kitchen floor, my couch, hardwood floors, and my laundry room. They have covered my garage. Also, last year they were all over my attic stairs and walls.
“I would like to be rid of these, harmful or not. I have a mini Dachshund puppy that wants to play with them and then eat them. I stopped him, not knowing what these are. I can’t withstand thousands of these worms again. I’m now on my second clean, but it looks like there are several still alive?”
“We have had a lot of rain, especially this past summer. […] Any help will be so appreciated!! My dog plus my grandchildren are here all the time and […] they will flip out.”
Now, while this context is really helpful, it is very difficult to see the worms in the photos, as the low resolution does not allow us to zoom in without losing the finer details. What this means is that we cannot identify the worms with 100% certainty. That said, we think that the creatures our reader has been finding are millipedes.
Millipedes are friendly arthropods that tend to migrate into homes when there is heavy rain. They play an important role in the environment and are not a threat to humans or pets. Usually they are safe to eat for dogs, but millipedes can secrete a fluid as a defense mechanism which may trigger an allergic reaction in a dog (the same can happen to humans if one makes contact with the fluid), so we do not recommend that she lets her dog eat the organisms.
Unfortunately, if these are indeed millipedes, getting rid of them is more a matter of control and prevention, rather than elimination. Most insecticides have little to no effect on millipedes, so the spray that our reader was sold is most likely useless. In any case, we never condone the use of such methods unless the organism is a threat and using such methods is the only way to eliminate them (insecticides and other sprays can often be harmful to humans as well).
To control millipede infestations, one should make sure that one’s home is kept warm and dry (as millipedes prefer habitats which are cool and moist, like basements). Additionally, removing piles of organic debris from one’s yard (rocks, twigs, leaves), can help prevent millipedes from entering one’s home, particularly if said piles are leaning up against one’s home.
Now, if the infestation gets really out of hand, and their numbers start to rise again, then our reader should probably contact a professional. In this case, such numbers would be nearly impossible to deal with by oneself.
To verify if these are millipedes, we recommend that our reader flip over the creatures and check their undersides for many legs. Similarly, if they look like they are gliding over a surface when they walk, they probably are millipedes.
If they do not seem to possess legs (perhaps they move by contracting their body and pushing their way across a surface), then they are something else. We would guess earthworms. But we would place our bets on these being millipedes, especially considering that our reader mentioned that the critters tended to curl up and play dead, which is characteristic of millipedes.
In conclusion, we think that the worms our reader has been finding in and around her home are millipedes. They are not harmful at all, but infestations of them can occur during rainy seasons, which are nonetheless unpleasant to deal with. We hope this article helps, and we wish our reader, her family, and her dog the very best.
All About Worms is always free, always reader-supported. Your tips via CashApp, Venmo, or Paypal are appreciated! Receipts will come from ISIPP Publishing.