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Millipedes are on the move

few millipedes can always be found around homes; however, at times thousands of them will migrate from one area to another. When this happens, numbers can increase dramatically. As they crawl about, they will enter homes, accumulate on carports and fall into swimming pools.

Millipedes are herbaceous and feed mainly on decaying plant material. They are inactive during the day and can be found in forest floor litter, mulched flower beds and lawn thatch. Movement and feeding occur at night.

Migrations may be caused by:

• Population pressure — As numbers increase in an area, the competition for food forces some part of the population to seek other sites.

• Destruction of habitat — Movement may occur during construction. As habitat is disturbed or destroyed, the millipedes will seek other sites.

• Standing water — After long periods of rain, standing water may force millipedes from low lying areas.

Although any of the above can be involved, population pressure is probably the main reason for mass movements of millipedes. Movement is always at night. You may clean up your carport in the afternoon and by the next morning hundreds have again accumulated. Millipedes do not bite or sting; they are simply a nuisance at certain times.

Insecticides such as Sevin can be used around the outside foundation wall and these applications will kill a lot of millipedes; however, within 24 to 48 hours a new group will appear. This is one of those situations that what nature has created, nature will have to cure. Once the population in an area has reached a balance the migration will cease. The best advice is to be patient and keep your leaf blower handy.

Rebecca Bates is an MSU Extension—Lincoln County agent, and can be reached at 601—835—3460 or by e—mail at rebecca.bates@msstate.edu.