Centipedes & Millipedes

Millipedes are red, brown, black or coppery coloured with wormlike segments each having at least 2 pairs of legs for each segment. (not to be confused with centipedes that have only one pair of legs per segment).

miliped1_1.jpg miliped2_1.jpg
Millipede(left)-Florida Agriculture, A group of millipedes (right)-J. Kalisch, UNL

_1 centi2_1.jpg
Centipede (left)-University of Nebraska, Centipedes (right)-Techcom

They are about 1.5cm long and are usually found coiled up like a spring when disturbed. Centipedes are a little longer. There are over 6,000 species found worldwide.

milli3_1.jpg millip4_1.gif
Desert Milipede in Arizona(left)-Young Entomologists Society, Red millipede (right)-William W. Bushing

Habitat and Lifecycle
Both are found everywhere throughout North America and many other countries. They tend to favour damp areas and in moist crevices. If millipedes are found in your house don’t worry too much as they do NO damage and they will die as they have nowhere to reproduce. If centipedes are found in you house, they can live up to 5 years. Both overwinter in the soil and emerge in the spring and their eggs are a little bit sticky and are laid in small clusters in the soil.

Millipede (left)-University of Delaware , Milliped group (right)-UC Riverside

Diet and Damage
Most species of millipedes feed on organic materials and other rotting garden debris. Millipedes are not often a pest but they have been know to eat beans, cabbage, carrots, corn, potatoes, strawberries and turnips. They sever seedlings, eat roots and burrow into fruits. There are some millipedes that are predators of other soil insects. If they are not attacking your plants I would just leave them as they work wonders in your compost breaking down organic material. I would suggest moving them into your compost pile rather than kill them. I have found no indications that centipedes cause plant damage. Millipedes have been known to eat small bugs, cockroaches, flies and a few other bugs in your house. My advice…..don’t kill these guys.

How To Control Centipedes & Millipedes

  1. Plant GuardianTM Houseplant Insecticidal Soap
    Drench the soil or area where they are with insecticidal soap. My homemade recipe that is also effective: 1 or 2 tablespoons of any dish soap to one quart of water. Spray directly on the bugs.
  2. Clean up Garden Debris
    Keep your garden free of debris since this is an excellent breeding environment for them. Anywhere that is constantly moist should be controlled.
  3. Hand Pick
    This isn’t an easy task since they do most of their damage at night. dig lightly around the soil….you’ll see them if they are present.
  4. *Here’s a true cute story about getting rid of millipedes:
    One day when I was in the garden at 5 am… my elderly neighbour came running out of her house in her best curlers and house dress screaming! I thought maybe her husband was after her or some other major emergency. NO….it was an infestation of millipedes in her kitchen! Nothing bad there I told her. I went over to her house and swept them into the dust pan and dropped them in hot soapy water. I inspected around the foundation of her home outside and found that she had left all her weeds in a pile right beside her rain barrel. As soon as we cleaned up this mess, she never had another scare like that again LOL. She was truly thankful and baked me a lovely apple pie :)

Receive my new bug articles in your inbox


  1. candice says

    a millipede crawled into my clothes and left a red abrasion exactly where it curled up I even pics to prove I think they need to be tested … when the curl up its a defence mechanism im thinking they let off something..

  2. roxanne cheeseman says

    My daughter brought me a planter box I try not to use chemicals’in them’ I have little tiny like 1\8 of inch red ones’black one’s of these centipedes looking things all over my dirt.Just don’t want to plant any herds until I know if they are going to eat my plants? I live in east central FL.

  3. Lisa says

    Can millipedes grow up to 6″ long? I found something that strongly resembles the millipede in the picture while hiking today, but it was about 6″ long and bright red and black striped. The many legs were red also. Was it a millipede or something else?

  4. Mrs. Jones says

    We have a centipede invasion. It was nightmarish as one night we found 25 in the upstairs bedrooms. We live in a dome. Well, first thing we did after researching was to turn on the AC to dehumidify the place until we get an actual dehumidifier and second thing is to scatter torn up mint leaves around the edges of the house as well as cover the foundation with gravel.

    I saw one after four days of seeing none and I suspect this is because we turned on the heat as it was a rainy day which predictably caused humidity. Does this mean I will have to freeze? What about the winter time? These are the things that worry me but until then I shall continue my organic methods..

  5. says

    I found one approx. 4 inches in length, I added it to my terrarium with my two Anoles, two Leopard Gheckos, my two snakes one green one aqua blue (I know not suppose to be blue right) they all live in harmony now for over 2 years. The Millipede eats of all things the chicket food and the anole food. I love it, since most people can’t believe they could all live together I am proud of the fact that they even sleep together, yes together…..why kill them?

  6. Betty Pritchard says

    Many, many of our yard creatures, which resemble the common bait worm but have very tiny feet, are everywhere on the top or just under dirt curled tightly. Can someone let me know what these fellows are? A neighbor picked it up, it did not bite. He said it looked somewhat like a centa/milipede. It appeared to be segmented but I saw no antennae

  7. Len says

    Nana’s Mothballs! (Old School Napthhalene @ Wal-Marts)
    In 1962, my grandmother-from-the-Bronx (Nana)came to live with us in Georgia. When I picked her up at the train station in Savannah, she got in our ’60 Cheve, said: “This will make your car smell better” and threw a handful of moth balls in the back seat. While cleaning the car for sale seven years later I found the last of the mothballs under the back seat. Nana lasted one year “in the sticks” before returning to the Bronx. Nana dyed her hair red, said she was 58 and got a union job cleaning the 14th floor of the Newsweek building. Nana worked for another six years before passing in her sleep.

    This morning the grandsons looked up long from their video games to discover we had a millipede invasion! The home entry point was via (under) the sliding glass doors from the patio.

    I got my box of “Nana’s Mothballs” from the garage and the grandsons established a barrier in the aluminum tracks of the sliding doors that immediately broke up the attack and continues to repel the attackers!

  8. Robert says

    I heard if you use sweet basil it works well. I am going to use some from the back yard put it in a blender with water and spray it on the areas they go to.

  9. mike says

    I have millipedes on one wall outside I have tried to kill them and been pretty sucessful at doing so but every night i get a snow shovle full i tried to use laundry soap but it killed my lawn and just gave them more food I found a few product at walmart that work pretty good they say they are moving because they are running out of food where they are and they tend to move in the same direction good luck to all!!!!!!!!!

  10. Wade says

    I don’t have any roting vegetation around my home and I have never noticed these little inch long millipedes before. I have stone around the outside of the foundation. Does sprinkling lime help? i heard it helps for cluster flies..

  11. Ginny says

    I live on the ground floor of a senior’s apartment building. It’s on a cement slab. I have these bugs every year and this year they are ten times worse. I sucked up over two humdred that were crawling around my floors this morning. My vacuum cleaner stinks from their chemical smell but it’s better than bending over to try and pick them up. Nothing seems to work to keep them away. The landlord supplies those sticky papers and they catch a few but that’s it. I have birds so I don’t want them spraying in my apartment. When it rains the water runs under this building so it’s always damp and we have had a lot of rain this year. Guess I’ll be living with these critters till fall now. I’m going to try that laundry detergent mentioned. Maybe that will help. I also have a big turtle that likes to crawl around. I hate letting him out now because of all these millipedes.

  12. Jackie says

    I began noticing millipedes all over the side of our house when we dug up our sidewalk and patio. It has been three weeks since the project was started and they are not only on the outside of the house each morning, but have migrated inside as well. After reading about them, I am not mortified, but will just give it more time for them to disappear. I sweep them up every day—–several times and try to pick them up off the carpet so they won’t get squished and discolor the fabric. I just throw them into the weeds away from the house where there are lots of grass clippings and tree branches. It would be nice to know when they are finally going to be gone. Interestingly, when we mulched the new grass seed we planted with straw, we found the little buggers were actually tunneling down into the ground and pulling the blades of straw in with them. Some go into the ground three inches or more. Fascinating!

  13. Sandy says

    We moved to this house about 3 years ago and each summer the centipedes get worse, right now I am seriously considering sleeping in the car, a few nights back I got out of bed to go to the restroom and when I was getting back in bed I noticed something crawling on the curtains above the head board, sure enough it was a centipede, as I looked closer there was more than 1, they were hiding in the folds of the fabric. There is no moisture in my bedroom so I don’t understand why they are in there, I have not slept in my bed since that night. I feel like they are taking over our home, they are always in the shower/bathtub, usually crawling on the shower curtain, I just absolutely hate these creatures, I constantly feel like my skin is crawling, I am so uncomfortable, to the point that I wouldn’t mind moving. One night I had a dream there was one in the bed with me, only he was as big as my dog, and he was squishing ME with all those legs. It was horrible! The basement is just as bad and at times worse, I turn the light on to go down there and they just dart out all over the place and then disappear into there cracks and crevices.PLEASE help me get rid of them, I’m loosing my mind and it is affecting my relationship with my husband. The only thing that we have tried has been insect killer from Wal Mart ( Raid I think was the brand).

  14. umer says

    I changed my house a couple of weeks back,i found every day dozens of small centepede in my bathroom.i have killed many using coopex replicant.But every day i found new one to face with.i didnt find their habitat,i will try your opinion let c wot happened.

  15. Dorothy says

    Once you spray the centepedes with your homemade receipe, do you just let it set on soil in houseplant? Anything else you need to do following spraying them?
    We had not had a problem on a fairly new house plant until we watered and now we have a TON of them. Eggs must have hatched?

  16. lisa says

    I just moved in my apartment about two weeks ago and I didnt know I had centipedes, millipedes, silverfish until after I moved in! I had pest control come to my apartment and that did not work they r everywhere! Im afraid to sleep! They crawel anywhere and everywhere and when u sleep! I have lost so much sleep. It would get so bad I would go sleep in my car. What else can I do to get rid of them? I cant afford to move cuz i put so much money trying to get rid of these nasty gross insects! Someone tell me what Ican do. Thanks Lisa

  17. Jo says

    We have been finding the millipedes all over the house. The dogs find them and bark at them. My husband picked one up tonight to throw it outdoors and when he came in he had a yellow stain on his fingers and then it turned fuscia. He also smelled a horrible smell and it burned his nose and his lips. Could this all be from that millipede? I found 4 of them last night. WE have a lot of pine and oak trees around and loads of pine straw…too much to get rid of. Do you suppose sprinkling the soap will get rid of them?
    Thanks for any info. Jo

  18. Kathy says

    I am going to try the dish soap recipe. My husband is going through bottles and bottles of spray. Our home is infested. I must have killed at least 75 today in my house. And they love to hang off of the side of our garage at night. EEEEWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I am going to also rip out the two flower beds outside of our kitchen and behind the garage. Wish me luck!!! I have probably already used about 2 rolls of toilet paper and one roll of paper towels squishing the little devils!

  19. Terrianne says

    This is so helpful. We’ve been growing herbs and vegetables for years but this is our first experience with Millipedes. We’re infested! And just like you said, especially at night. So much so that it is impossible to leave our home without stepping over them. Gross! And really creepy. I’ve tried a mix of hot sauce, dish detergent and water, and then vinegar. They really hated that. As it does smell rather pungent, I’m going to try adding dish detergent, like you’ve suggested, and more of it, to a water solution and see how it goes. Thank you so much for youe help. My neighbors and I really appreciate your help.

  20. Lisa says

    Hey! I am not saying to spray the laundry detergent, just sprinkle it out all around your house. We have a newer house also, 3 years old, so I just put the straight laundry detergent all around the carport, the other porches and all around the house. My husband pulled the pine straw back and we put the detergent. I used the cheap kind from The Dollar store. I CANNOT believe how good it works!! My husband did not believe it would work, he said I would listen to anybody!! But Lynn really did know what she was talking about and I am SOO Thankful!! Try it and let us know how it works for you. Later, Lisa

  21. Nicole says

    I just recently have had a millipede invasion. I’ve lived in my home for four years now and have never seen one. Now out of nowhere they are all over the place. I don’t know what is attracting them. I hate bugs! You’re saying I should spray them with laundry detergent? I live in Florida. I don’t know if they are attracted to the hibiscus out front or what…really annoying. I would love to get rid of them. I feel like everyday I’m finding more and more. I just went around my house and flushed like 15 down the toilet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *