We recently heard from a reader in Wisconsin. He wrote, “I found this worm in the bottom of my tub on two occasions. It is about half an inch long.” The picture shows a light brown/yellow creature with small black dots lining its sides. It has a segmented body and two antennae:
We are confident that this is either a millipede or a centipede. Millipedes and centipedes, which are both arthropods, are commonly discovered by readers. They are often similar in appearance and can be hard to tell apart from each other. Both have long, thin, segmented bodies and antennae. Millipedes have two pairs of jointed legs per body segment, while centipedes just have one pair per segment. Millipedes usually have rounder bodies and centipedes are typically flatter. Based on the photograph, we think the specimen our reader found is probably a millipede.
There are roughly 12,000 species of millipedes known throughout the world. Most are detrivores, which means they eat dead and decaying organic plant matter. Some eat fungi and living plants, and a small percentage are carnivores, feeding on other insects. Millipedes live in leaf litter on forest floors and in gardens, but they do occasionally inhabit a household. When inside a home, they prefer dark and damp areas, like basements and bathrooms.
Finding a few harmless millipedes is nothing to fret about, but we do recommend that our reader give his bathroom a thorough cleaning. He should also investigate his windows, doors, and vents to be sure they are properly sealed and screened since small holes could be entryways for these arthropods. He can also clear leaf litter and debris away from the perimeter of his home to reduce the chance of millipedes accidentally wandering in.
In conclusion, we believe the creatures our reader found in his bathroom are probably millipedes. Millipedes are harmless and not usually classified as household pests, which means they don’t cause damage or destruction inside a home, so our reader has nothing to worry about!