Millipede Identification & Biology

By DoMyOwn staff

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Physical Appearance

The world millipedes actually means "a thousand legs", even though the largest usually have less than one hundred legs. Millipedes are brownish in color with 2 to 4 pairs of legs per body segment, while centipedes have only 1 pair of legs per segment. Its legs move in an undulating wave-like manner. The body is elongated (1/2 " to 6 ½" long), and cylindrical or slightly flattened.

Behavior & Habitat/ Feeding Habits

Millipedes prefer to feed on rotting wood, leaves, and damp, decaying plant matter, and will live nearby or within these same materials. When disturbed or threatened, the millipede's primary line of defense is to curl into a tight ball.

Life Cycle

Adult millipedes overwinter in the soil, and eggs are laid in the warmer months beneath the soil. Young millipedes are considerably smaller than adults in size, adding segments and legs as they mature. It takes about 2 to 5 years for the millipede to mature fully, and it will continue to live several years after that as an adult.


In small numbers, millipedes are beneficial in helping to break down dead plant matter. In larger numbers, millipedes may cause damage to seedlings, strawberries, or other fruits in contact with the ground. Millipedes do not cause any damage indoors, do not bite or pose any threats to human health. However, when crushed, millipedes secrete a liquid from their bodies which may cause minor skin irritation.

General Prevention & Control :

  • Millipedes rarely wander indoors, and when they do, invasions rarely last more than a few days. Stray millipedes may easily be swept outside, or vacuumed up.
  • Sealing cracks in the walls and other entry points will help prevent millipedes from entering. Likewise, piles of rotting leaves or wood may be removed from around the home to control outdoor populations.
  • Treat perimeters of the home up to 3 feet out with a residual pesticide like Suspend SC or Demon WP

For more detailed information on Millipede prevention and control, see How To Get Rid of Millipedes

View all Millipede Control products


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