Millipede invasions have long been a problem for many homeowners. Although these invasions seem more likely to occur in the spring and after heavy rains, they have been reported in every month of the calendar year. Thousands of migratory millipedes can create a mess. Once they die, expect a smell that can last for several weeks.
There are over 1000 species of millipedes in the United States. Most are slow crawling, appear to have hundreds of legs and will generally be gray to light brown or even orange in color . Most species take 1-2 years to reach reproductive maturity and can live 5-10 years. They love decomposing thatch, leaves and mulch. They will get nutrition from these locations and may choose a root system of a nearby plant on which to feed. When they breed, the eggs hatch larva which will feed right where they emerge. This leads to large populations or nests which can number in the hundreds. They will remain feeding as long as there is a food supply to support the nest. This could be for a year or two but at some point expect a migration.
Excessive rain, drought, over population or lack of food will cause them to migrate. This phenomenon can occur at any time of the year and may result in several thousand moving in a direction that is in line with your home.
The author has dealt with several infestations of millipedes that have numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Many customers routinely have so many they must use a gas powered blower to round up all the dead ones and will fill 10-20 hefty bags to haul them away. Infestations will routinely lead to thousands stacking up on or climbing up the side of a house. Though migrating millipedes will many times reach a certain height and stop, some will surely get inside too. But since they stink when they die, having them in the yard or worse yet in the home can present a wide range of problems. This will happen once they get up under a homes siding or inside since these environments rarely have enough “food” to allow them to live. Once they die in these areas, the odor issue can be disturbing requiring a whole other process explained in our ODOR CONTROL article.
HOW TO STOP A MILLIPEDE INVASION
Controlling millipede invasions involves a series of steps.
The first step is to identify nest sights. This will allow you to minimize the conditions these pests need which in turn will lead to less getting inside. Look to see where they are invading. In most cases, you will find them along one side or wall of your home.
If you notice that pattern, look around this side of the property. Inspect nearby mulch, compost piles, wood piles, large rocks, pine straw, around sheds, cracks in cement walkways or driveways and stoops. Any of these locations can breed, feed and shelter these pests. If you know where they are coming from, you will be able to treat the area precisely and even remove excessive organic matter available for them.
Lastly, clean up leaves, grass clippings, compost piles and other organic plant matter. Replace old straw or hay which has decomposed. Move log piles away from the home. Seal cracks in cement which allow water to gather. Rake thatch buildup from your lawn. By reducing these conditions, you take away food and harborage these pests need for survival.
After conditions conducive to millipedes have been reduced, take a look to see how they’re entering and seal up entry ways to help keep them out.
HOW TO TREAT FOR MILLIPEDES
Now that you’ve cleaned up the yard and have insured the home is properly sealed to keep out invading millipedes, its time to treat. Migrating millipedes will move onto your home and start to nest, roost and invade if you don’t knock out the current infestation. This procedure will include the use of granules and liquid sprays. And it will take time. But after 2-4 weeks, the problem will subside if you apply enough product and after 1-2 months, it should be reduced to manageable levels. From there, treating quarterly should keep them at bay.
APPLY GRANULES AROUND THE HOME
Since millipedes thrive under mulch, thatch, around plants and plant roots, you’ll need to cover your entire property with a good layer of MAXXTHOR GRANULES. This product is slow releasing but ideally suited for outside (especially under heavy thatch or mulch) and will permeate down to where the millipedes are reproducing and nesting. Keep in mind these are slow acting and should be applied monthly when millipedes are active.
Use 12.5 lbs per 10,000 sq/ft of yard. Thats about 1-2 lbs per side of the home so you should get 2 treatments from 1 jug. Apply them once a month when millipedes are active; every 3 months for prevention.
Broadcast the granules over mulch and turf. Millipedes could be focused under dead organic matter but will readily infest root balls too so leave no area untreated. Use a good GRANULE SPREADER to get even and uniform coverage.
BEST MILLIPEDE SPRAY
After applying a layer of granules to your turf, spray the same area as well as the sides of the home with MAXXTHOR EC. Use 2 oz Maxxthor for every 5,000 sq/ft.
Use our 20 GALLON HOSE END SPRAYER to apply the Maxxthor. Basically you’ll add 2 oz of Maxxthor and then fill the sprayer to the 5 gallon mark with water to treat 5,000 sq/ft of turf.
Be sure to spray the sides of the home too covering as much of the siding as the millipedes are using. So if you see them climbing up 10 feet of the siding, treat up to 10 feet high around the entire home.
Expect to retreat as needed for the first month; this could be 2-3 times a week to hold off the invasion. But once under control, spraying every 2-3 months when you apply granules will be enough for preventive care.
ORGANIC MILLIPEDE TREATMENTS
If you’re interested in using organic granules and spray, ESSENTRIA GRANULES should be used in place of the Maxxthor Granules. Essentria uses food grade ingredients and can be used safely around sensitive areas like streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. You’ll need to use 15 lbs for every 5,000 sq/ft so they will be more costly compared to Maxxthor. But we have found them work well when enough are used.
For spray, use ESSENTRIA IC. Like the granules, this concentrate is federally exempt using food oils and extracts for active ingredients. Highly effective on a wide range of pests, Essentria will control millipedes at a rate of 4 oz per gallon of water per 1,000 sq/ft of turf you need to spray.
Spray as needed which might be as often as 2-3 times a week to hold off the initial invasions. But once under control, every 2-3 months for prevention.
When using the 20 GALLON HOSE END SPRAYER listed above, add 20 oz of concentrate to the sprayer, fill with water and spray the entire amount over 5,000 sq/ft of turf.
BEST MILLIPEDE SPRAY FOR INSIDE THE HOME
For in the home, you may spray either the Maxxthor or the Essentria along baseboards, around door ways and other areas where they may penetrate. Use a good PUMP SPRAYER for the application so it won’t make a mess. Our sprayer comes with an assortment of nozzles so it will provide the best fan spray needed for proper coverage.
For areas you can’t spray with a liquid, apply FS MP AEROSOL. This low odor spray is fast acting and treatments will last 2-4 weeks. Use it as needed when millipedes invade.
MILLIPEDE CONTROL WILL TAKE TIME
Once you begin the process explained above, do not expect to see all the millipedes you find to be dead and gone in just a few days or even a few weeks. Most properties will take years to become infested and consequently, the treatments will take 1-3 months to penetrate all the areas where millipedes are nesting and thriving. For this reason one should compare results based on monthly activity and not daily or weekly reviews.
With that being said, the granules and liquid sprays will most definitely help you manage the activity so when they migrate, you shouldn’t have them living on the home or getting inside. But if you don’t treat the outside at least once a month, you’ll never reduce their numbers enough to stop them completely. That means if you want them gone for good, stay the course and don’t stop treating. In 3-6 months most populations will be dramatically reduced and if you keep on treating after they’re gone, you’ll never get them again.
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