Order: Diplopoda
Family: Various
Scientific Name: Various
Color: Blackish or brownish
Legs: Most body segments have 2 pairs of legs
Shape: Body cylindrical and wormlike
Size: 1/16-4 1/2" long
Antennae: Yes
Flight: No

Millipedes are sometimes called "thousand leggers", but they usually have 30-90+ pairs of legs. They are widely distributed throughout the United States and most of the world, with about 1,000 species occuring in the U.S.

Millipedes spend the winter as adults in protected habitats and become active in the spring. During the warmer months, females lay eggs in soil and cover them with a sticky substance, although some species give birth to living young. Millipedes develop through about seven stages (instars) in 21 to 25 weeks.

Millipedes prefer to live in moist habitats and during the day stay underneath rocks, logs and other objects in contact with the ground. They are active at night. Millipedes feed on decomposing organic matter, but will occasionally damage seedling plants by feeding on leaves, stems and roots. They curl up tightly when disturbed resulting frequently in the release of fluids from repugnatorial glands.

Millipedes do not bite; but when disturbed they can produce an irritating fluid (using repugnatorial glands opening at the base of the legs). This fluid can irritate eyes, blister the skin, produce an unpleasant odor and cause allergic reactions in venom sensitive people. Some species can squirt their fluids several inches. Millipedes, such as the garden millipede (Oxidus gracilis, Polydesmida: Paradoxosomatidae), can become numerous in the greenhouse and damage crops. They may invade homes during cooler weather.

Controlling millipedes outdoors includes removing objects that provide harborage such as trash piles, rocks, boards, leaf piles, compost piles and similar materials. If millipedes occur in great numbers or are creating problems, appropriately labeled sprays or dusts may be used.

(Source: National Pest Management Association, et. al.)