Archive for millipedes




By: Emily Shirley, President, Beauregard Master Gardeners Assoc.

Happy June!  If you live in the South, you know what we do in June and it does not necessarily have anything to do with gardening.  We prepare for hurricane season.  This month’s newsletter will toss in a little reminder of things to do for this season.  As with all our newsletters, we publish with the new gardener in mind, while also reminding seasoned gardeners of things they already know. 


This month we give you articles on composting and even share that now not-so-secret “Master Gardener soil recipe” developed by Advanced Master Gardener, George Giltner.  And you say, what else is there to learn about composting?  It really is science and I am one of those people that have to let science soak in.  Composting really is such an important topic not only for the home gardener, but for everyone involved in tending the earth and growing crops, whether you live on thousands of acres or on a tiny plot. If you are going to garden, “it all starts with the soil.” 

Soil must be replenished. And adding compost, (organic matter), is how soil is replenished. There is no substitute for adding back organic matter to your soil.  If you are gardening and you aren’t composting, make it a resolution to start a compost pile, or two or three, somewhere in your garden area. You’ll be a better gardener and have better soil too.


The AgCenter has been getting calls about these “tiny worms” that are coming inside the home so we are also sharing information on these “Millipedes”.  And, oh the confusion between the leaf-footed bug and the milkweed assassin –we will try to clear that up for you too. Probably the last thing a gardener would want to do is kill off a beneficial insect, like the Milkweed Assassin Bug, that is controlling pests (flies, mosquitoes, caterpillars, cucumber beetles, the Asian citrus psyllid, aphids, army worms, and other prey 6x their size). 


We know that next to tomatoes and peppers, the next vegetable that most gardeners always grow is squash.  But growing squash means there are many questions to ask about what is going on when you do have issues.  The article “Six Reasons Squash Fails and What to Do About It” will hopefully help you with all your squash issues. 




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Millipedes by the Millions






Millipedes by the Millions

By George Giltner, Advanced Master Gardener

2015 millipedes

University of Florida photo


With wet weather or drought, the “Invasion of Millipedes” is the concern of the season with housekeepers.  They sneak into homes, shops, garages, and onto porches by the hundreds.  Even on sidewalks large numbers are crunched on the way inside.  These invaders can cause stains and odors, but otherwise they are harmless nuisances.


Millipedes live off of decaying plant material. Also they require moist environments, but not wet. These two facts give helpful hints for control measures.  Move compost and decaying leaves away from dwelling sides and walk borders.  Trim long blades of grass to allow the soil to dry quicker.  Trim trees and shrubbery to allow for wind circulation to penetrate and dry vegetation and soil.  Extend water runoff drains away from dwellings, and slope the soil for good yard drainage.


Check your home for entry-point cracks, crevices, and moist areas.  Millipedes are most active at night, therefore a flashlight search before bedtime may allow you to locate how they are getting into your house.


Vacuums and brooms are good tools for removal, but shop vacs are the best.


Diatomaceous earth can be applied with a small duster to discovered cracks and crevices.  This material is the sharp edge skeletal remains of diatoms.  It functions as a chitin-cutting medium like ground glass.  Insects and millipedes are cut and eventually die from desiccation.   Another cutting material is crystalline of Boric Acid.  Not only does it cut insects and lead to dehydration, but it is also a stomach poison for them.


Another unconventional way to rid of millipedes is to bring in the birds, as many species of birds are seed and invertebrate feeders (worms, millipedes, etc.).  A bird feeder will usually bring in local species, and they are fun to watch.  If you really want to wipe out millipedes within an area, bring in the big guns, chickens.  A movable pen will keep the heavy feeding chickens contained and focused in a confined space.


The last means of control to try is the chemical option.  Numerous pesticides can be purchased in stores from “Sevin” to “Bug-be-Gone”.  Following and reading instructions is extremely important.  Probably the last thing you would want to do is have these agents tracked into the home and trapped in carpeting.  Once in carpet, it is nearly impossible to remove pesticides.  Unforeseen consequences of chemical exposures are sometimes not recognized until years later.


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