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Millipedes are long, slender, segmented creatures that have many legs. They are usually dark brown to black in color, and they tend to curl up into a spiral shape when disturbed. They have a pair of antennae and can range from 1/16 inch to 4.5 inches long. They are common in Madison Wisconsin, and they are not harmful to humans or pets. However, they can be a nuisance if they invade your home or garden. 

Millipedes belong to the class Diplopoda, which means “double foot”. This is because they have two pairs of legs per body segment, unlike centipedes, which have one pair of legs per segment. Millipedes have a hard exoskeleton that protects them from predators and dehydration. They also have glands that can secrete a foul-smelling liquid or a toxic substance as a defense mechanism. Some species of millipedes can even glow in the dark!


Millipedes go through incomplete metamorphosis, which means they do not have a larval stage. Instead, they hatch from eggs as miniature versions of adults, and grow by molting their exoskeleton and adding more segments and legs. Adult millipedes overwinter in the soil. Eggs are deposited below the soil surface and hatch in about three weeks. Once the young millipedes hatch, they stay within the underground nest until they have molted at least once. With each molt, the millipede gains more body segments and more legs. It may take many months for them to achieve adulthood. Maturity is reached after two to five years, and they continue to live for several years thereafter.

Conditions Conducive to Survival

Millipedes are attracted to dark, cool, moist environments that are rich in organic matter such as compost piles, heavily mulched shrubs, or flower beds. They feed on decaying plant material, fungi, and bacteria. They are beneficial decomposers that help recycle nutrients in the soil.

In nature, millipedes can be found in forests, grasslands, deserts, and other habitats where there is enough moisture and organic matter for them to thrive. They are not a nuisance around the exterior of a structure, but they may wander inside if their outdoor habitat is disturbed or if the weather is too dry or too wet.

In a structure, millipedes can be found in basements, bathrooms, kitchens, and other areas where there is high humidity or moisture problems. They may also enter through cracks, gaps, or openings around doors, windows, pipes, or vents. They are usually harmless inside buildings, but they may stain carpets or furniture with their secretions if crushed or handled.

Where They Live

Millipedes live in moist soil beneath decaying leaf litter or mulch. They lack stingers or pinchers to fend off predators, so they need to hide beneath the soil and other moist hiding areas. They are mostly nocturnal and active at night when they come out to feed and mate.

How They Winter

Millipedes tend to overwinter in the soil or under leaves until spring when they lay their eggs in this material. They can survive cold temperatures by lowering their metabolic rate and entering a state of dormancy called diapause.

Evidence Found During Inspection

When inspecting a structure for millipedes, you will want to look at the areas with high moisture content or organic matter. You will see millipedes crawling on the ground or on walls near these areas. You may also find their shed skins or fecal pellets that look like black pepper.

Fun Facts

  • Fossil evidence suggests that millipedes were the earliest animals to breathe air and make the move from water to land.
  • There are about 12,000 species of millipedes worldwide.
  • The longest millipede is around 13.5 inches in length and lives in Africa.
  • Millipedes can be used to study a variety of biological phenomena such as bioluminescence, chemical defense, and segmentation.

Although millipedes don’t cause damage, they can be an annoying pest to have around. If you would like to quickly reduce their presence, call the Experts Today for an honest quote and evaluation to meet your specific needs!

Kwik Kill Services to control Millipedes

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Millipede Control

There are many types of common pests that routinely invade homes in the Madison area. At Kwik Kill, we are experts in solving each one of these unique pest control problems.

As the season’s change, so do the types of pests that can invade your home. We have pest control solutions for any time of year, whether it’s raining, snowing or sunny outside.

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