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Do Millipedes Bite?

do millipedes bite

Millipedes are intriguing creatures that often prompt curiosity due to their unique appearance and behavior. One question that frequently arises is, “do millipedes bite” humans?

Do Millipedes Bite?

While the answer to “do millipedes bite” is no, they can release toxins, so avoiding unnecessary handling is important. This involves understanding their behavior and taking precautions. To prevent and eliminate millipedes, address moisture, seal gaps, clean regularly, use desiccants, repellents or insecticides, and seek professional help if necessary.

In this article, learn how to identify millipedes, understand human and millipede interaction risks, and discover how to control and prevent them from infesting your home.

Millipede Identification

Millipede and centipede


Millipedes are arthropods characterized by their elongated bodies and numerous legs. Despite their name, they don’t have a thousand legs; the number ranges from 30 to over 300 depending on the species. Here are some features that can help identify millipedes:

  • Body Shape: Millipedes have a distinct cylindrical body with many segments. Unlike centipedes, their body is rounded, not flattened.
  • Segments: Counting the body segments can give you an idea of the millipede’s maturity. Each time they molt, they add more segments, so larger millipedes tend to have more segments.
  • Legs: Each body segment of millipedes has two pairs of legs. The number of legs can vary, but they typically have more legs than centipedes.
  • Color: Millipedes come in various colors including brown, black, gray, and reddish-brown. Some species have colorful patterns or markings on their bodies.
  • Size: Millipedes vary in size, ranging from less than an inch to several inches in length. Some larger species can grow up to several inches long.
  • Movement: Millipedes move slowly and rhythmically, with their legs appearing to ripple in waves as they crawl.
  • Antennae: They have short thread-like antennae on their heads.
  • Habitat: Millipedes are often found in damp, dark environments such as under leaf litter, in soil, and beneath rotting wood. They are commonly found in damp and dark areas of homes such as basements, bathrooms, kitchens, and crawl spaces. Heavy rainfall can drive millipedes indoors. Additionally, bright outdoor lights can attract insects, attracting some species of millipedes that feed on them.

Millipede Defense Mechanisms

Striped Millipede
Do millipedes bite? Millipedes are generally safe to touch, are not considered highly poisonous to humans, and aren’t typically aggressive toward people. They do not bite or sting like some other insects. However, some millipede species release defensive toxins or secretions from glands along their body segments when threatened. Certain larger millipede species can even spray these toxins up to 80 centimeters (31.5 inches) away. This fluid can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in sensitive individuals and may have a distinct odor.

Handling millipedes cautiously and washing your hands afterward is advisable to avoid any potential skin irritation. If you develop severe symptoms or an allergic reaction after contact, seek medical attention.

Control & Prevention Of Millipedes

To prevent millipedes from entering your house, it’s essential to address moisture issues, seal gaps and cracks, remove debris, and ensure proper drainage around your home’s foundation.

To get rid of millipedes in your home, follow these steps:

  1. Eliminate Moisture: Millipedes are attracted to damp environments. Identify and fix any moisture problems in your home, such as leaky pipes, clogged gutters, or areas with poor ventilation.
  2. Seal Entry Points: Close any gaps or cracks in doors, windows, and walls to prevent millipedes from entering your home.
  3. Remove Debris: Clear away piles of leaves, mulch, or other organic debris around your home’s foundation as these provide hiding spots for millipedes.
  4. Reduce Outdoor Lighting: Bright outdoor lights can attract millipedes. Consider using less intense lighting or switching to yellow or sodium vapor lights, which are less attractive to insects.
  5. Keep Your Home Clean: Regularly vacuum and sweep your home to remove any millipedes that may have made their way inside.
  6. Use Desiccants: Applying desiccants like diatomaceous earth or boric acid in cracks and crevices can help dry out millipedes and discourage them from staying indoors.
  7. Remove Millipedes: If you find a few millipedes indoors, wear gloves, gently collect them, and place them outside away from your home.
  8. Use Natural Repellents: Some natural repellents like cedar oil, essential oils (mint, citrus, or eucalyptus), or neem oil can deter millipedes from entering your home.
  9. Apply Insecticides: If the infestation is severe, consider using insecticides labeled for millipedes. Apply them around the perimeter of your home and entry points, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  10. Get Professional Help: If a millipede problem persists, consider contacting a pest control professional who can assess the situation and provide targeted solutions.

Conclusion – Do Millipedes Bite?

Do millipedes bite? While millipedes do not bite, it’s important to treat these creatures respectfully and avoid unnecessary handling. Millipedes play an essential role in ecosystems by aiding in the decomposition of organic matter. By understanding their behavior and taking precautions, humans can coexist peacefully with these fascinating arthropods.

To prevent and eliminate millipedes in your home, tackle moisture problems, seal openings, remove debris, dim outdoor lights, clean regularly, use desiccants, and use natural repellents or insecticides. Seek professional assistance for severe infestations.