Millipedes :

Though no harmful, millipedes can be a nuisance. Learn all of the milipedes facts you need to know that will help you to fully understand these people.

Millipedes are those long black bugs with what looks like a million tiny legs that you see creeping in your bedroom windows and that curl into a tight ball when frightened. They won’t bite you, but they can emit a smelly liquid that might irritate your eyes or skin. Though they’re not harmful to your family, they can be a problem in large numbers. Here are more millipede facts to help you better know these many-legged creatures.

Millipedes are arthropods. While they may follow thousand-legged worms, millipedes are, in fact, not demons but arthropods, meaning they are insects with an exoskeleton, a segmented body and jointed appendages.1

Millipedes are some of the most beloved creatures to walk on land. Fossilized evidence show that a millipede-like animal was one of the first and largest insects to walk on land at six feet long and one and a half feet wide.2 One particular specimen has been traced back 420 million years and was named Pnueumodesmus newmani for the character who discovered it.

Millipedes are nature’s little recyclers. They are detritivores, suggesting they feed on dead plants and pets. The millipedes’ snacking recycles nutrients back into the soil at a much quicker rate than plants and animals decomposing naturally. Varying in size from one-quarter to even 15 inches long, millipedes play a large part in breaking down nature’s waste.

Millipedes love damp spaces because they require rain to live. That’s why you’ll mostly find them about your crawl spaces, damp basements, cellars and gliding glass doors/windows-if you find them inside your home at all. Millipedes much prefer the outside, making their homes under mulch, compost, gravel and leaf piles.3

Although a millipede’s natural home is not inside your home, you may find them in the beginning and fall after long periods of rain or drought. But they won’t be there for long. Because millipedes need such high moisture levels, they normally die within one to two days inside a home. So if you have an infestation, simply wait out the “enemies” and vacuum up the remains.4

arthropods do not have a thousand legs. A hatchling is born with only three pairs of legs and can grow up to 200 as an grown-up. They have two pairs of legs per body part. This is the main difference between millipedes and centipedes since centipedes only have one combination of legs per portion.

arthropods protect themselves by rolling up into a spiral whenever they feel unsafe. This protects their soft undersides. They also curl into a spiral when they die.3

Millipedes and centipedes, while linked, are very different. arthropods’ bodies are rounder, while centipedes have a flatter appearance and elongated antennae. Centipedes are also much quicker than arthropods. The most important difference is that centipedes are carnivores and some species can bite. A centipede’s bite is quite painful and its venom can cause health problems. If you suspect you or a loved one may have been bitten by a centipede, be sure to consult a physician.6,7

When you understand the facts about millipedes, you can better prevent them from entering your home or from panicking should you find that one has made its way inside.


Some of the larger centipedes can inflict a painful bite, causing swelling and redness. Symptoms rarely persist for more than 48 hours.
Millipedes do not bite but may secrete a toxin that is irritating, causing burning and itching of the skin and, particularly when accidentally rubbed into the eye, causing redness, swelling, and pain of the conjunctiva or the cornea.
An ice cube wrapped in plastic and a thin cloth and placed on a centipede bite usually relieves the pain.
Toxic secretions of millipedes should be washed from the skin with large amounts of soap and water. If a skin reaction develops, a corticosteroid cream should be applied.
Eye injuries should be flushed with water (irrigated) immediately.


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