Millipedes are not venomous. Unlike centipedes, they are largely considered non-poisonous. Nevertheless, certain millipede species release irritating fluids from side glands. These fluids might cause minor irritation if they touch the skin of someone sensitive to them or who has accidentally crushed a millipede.
Belonging to the arthropod family, millipedes are not insects. They are worm-like creatures present across the United States, usually concealed under rocks, leaves, brick paths, or other debris. Preferring cool, moist environments, they require a damp habitat and cannot thrive in prolonged dry conditions.
Occasionally, despite their preference for moisture, they wander into buildings, becoming trapped in arid interiors and may die without access to their familiar surroundings.
There are instances when millipedes migrate from their habitats, particularly during colder weather, after heavy rainfall, or their mating season. Often discovered in window wells, basements, or garages, they might sometimes invade buildings in groups, causing alarm. Yet, there’s usually no need for concern. While not particularly pleasant to look at, they are generally harmless to both individuals and property.
With over 7,000 species of millipedes globally, around 1,400 are native to the United States and Canada.
Tube-shaped with several segments, millipedes resemble aquatic beings like lobsters, shrimps, and crayfish. They possess numerous legs, but despite the nickname “thousand-leggers,” most species have fewer than 100 legs.
Common types of millipedes include:
- Cylindroiulus Caeruleocinctus: This kidney-shaped millipede can span 20 to 30 millimeters. It’s brown to black with brass outlines on its segments and is usually spotted in residential and wooded areas.
- Striped Millipede: This plump, cylindrical creature is generally brown with ginger stripes. Larger than most of its counterparts, it prefers sandy surroundings near logs and trees.
- White-legged Snake Millipede: Growing up to 25 millimeters, this species has pale to brown segment markings with darker side spots. They also feature a black front around their eyes and a pale tail, commonly residing in gardens and woods.
Millipede Defense Mechanisms
Millipedes excrete notably strong-smelling defensive fluids, which, besides irritating some people’s skin, should give reason to handle them cautiously. Identifying individual millipede species can be challenging. Therefore, always use gloves or wash your hands thoroughly after any contact.
Moreover, avoid touching your eyes after handling millipedes as their fluid can severely irritate them. Predators, sensing these irritating fluids, tend to keep their distance.
Are Millipedes Venomous?
Often confused with centipedes due to their striking appearance and many legs, millipedes are misunderstood. They are non-venomous. Rather than biting or stinging in defense, a millipede is more inclined to coil tightly. Still, it’s wise not to handle them carelessly.
Threatened millipedes release a foul-smelling fluid which, besides irritating skin and eyes, can stain and emit an unpleasant odor. Some individuals might even exhibit allergic reactions to this defense mechanism. So, while millipedes are not poisonous, it’s best to approach them with caution. If you must interact with them, always wash your hands afterward.
Professional Millipede Management by On Demand
Navigating the world of millipedes can be intriguing, yet daunting. While they may not be venomous, these creatures can sometimes find their way into our homes and become an unwanted nuisance. Beyond Davie, Florida, On Demand Pest Control extends its expert pest management services throughout South Florida such as Pompano, Fort Lauderdale, Weston, and Hollywood.
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