What Are Some Millipede Facts?


Quick Answer

In the United States, there are several species of millipedes, and each species varies in size and color. Millipedes are generally harmless, although they may enter homes in large numbers after it rains or if they are nesting in the walls of the home.

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Full Answer

Millipedes range from 2 to 4 centimeters in length, and can be black, red or brown in color. Some millipedes also have red, yellow or orange markings. Millipedes have three feet at birth, and they develop more legs as they grow additional body segments. The millipede's nickname is "thousand legs," which reflects the fact that an adult can have up to 400 legs. The millipede may live for up to 7 years, and it gives birth to over 500 larvae per litter.

Millipedes generally live in forests with a damp environment like under decaying leaves, or in undisturbed, wooded areas. The insect can also be found in decaying plant matter around homes. Compost bins and mulch, for instance, may attract millipedes. Inside the home, millipedes prefer damp, quiet environments like basements, crawlspaces and storage areas.

While millipedes are not poisonous, the insect can emit an irritating spray that contains a small amount of hydrochloric acid. The spray can cause an allergic reaction in those with sensitivities and may cause long-term skin changes after exposure. The millipede may also produce an unpleasant odor that lingers after killing or touching the insect. Washing the area thoroughly with soap and water removes the odor.

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