Millipedes on the Move

— Written By Michael Waldvogel
en Español

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Millipede on house siding

Millipede climbing up siding (M. Waldvogel – NC State)

Last year around this time, we had a stretch of very hot & dry weather that triggered a “millipede migration” as the multi-legged creatures sought moister areas. This year, we will see different weather but with the same outcome. The rainfall anticipated for many areas across the state is likely cause millipedes to head for “high ground”, which for many of us means the sight of them crawling up onto patios, decks, and siding. Inevitably, that also means some will wander indoors by using small gaps around doors and windows.

One fact that hasn’t changed is that we still have few pesticides (if any) that can really stop or even slow down their movement regardless of whether we get a break in the rain and could treat foundations. However, the rain also makes for a good “teachable moment” to remind people that most pesticide labels for “pyrethroid” insecticides (the ones with active ingredients that end in “thrin”), have restrictions against applying broadcast sprays to vertical surfaces adjacent to hard or impervious surfaces that are not protected from rain. If you have a “hard surface” like a paved driveway, watch how the rain that strikes the garage door, frame and siding, then runs down the driveway and into the street. In residential settings within municipalities, that usually means that the storm water runs into a collector where it is carried (along with some of the pesticide and possibly other street contaminants such as motor oil) into a body of water, such as a retention pond or a possibly a lake that may also serve as a water supply). Even though that water is treated before we drink it, these chemicals can accumulate in the lake or river and may end up in the sediment at the bottom. So, do your part to protect our water supply which we share with many other animals and plants as well!

Spraying indoors along doorways or baseboards will kill some millipedes but will NOT stop the invasion. The others will continue their journey until they curl up and die or become the object of attention for your cat. However, for those of you working from home at this time, keeping a cat preoccupied may be preferable to it jumping onto your lap and spilling your coffee onto your keyboard during a Zoom presentation.

More information about millipedes

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