Millipedes and centipedes are like two of worst creatures that can ever pop out of your garden. But while centipedes are known to have venomous bites, millipedes don’t look like the type that just play dead and give up without a fight. So a lot of homeowners may ask. Are millipedes poisonous? Are they as dangerous as centipedes and spiders?
What are millipedes?
Millipedes are those fat dark brown or blackish worm-like creatures that seem to have a thousand tiny legs that move in a creepy wavy fashion. They have round heads with two short antennae protruding on the top.
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Millipedes got their name from a Latin term that means “thousand feet”. However, there’s actually no millipede that has all 1,000 legs. The closest one that got to this number is the Illacme plenipes. It has 750 spiny legs on its body.
Though they may look like it, millipedes are NOT worms. They’re not bugs either. Technically, they’re what’s known as arthropods, invertebrate animals that typically have jointed legs and segmented bodies. Specifically, millipedes belong to the class, Diplopoda. Their defining feature is having two pairs of jointed legs on their body segments.
Do millipedes have poison?
Millipedes are indeed poisonous. But they’re definitely not the kind that can automatically kill a person on the spot. Instead, they have something that can keep predators away long enough to protect themselves when they’re being threatened.
Depending on the species, these worm-like creatures have glands that can spray an odorous substance. That substance may contain hydrochloric acid or a cocktail of other chemicals. Millipedes have this irritating fluid to fight off enemies because they’d be too slow to outrun them. But when humans are exposed to it, it can cause temporary stinging, itching, rashes and even a permanent skin discoloration. It will also hurt your eyes as well. For people with allergic reactions to bug bites and other irritants, this may become a trigger. With direct contact, they could develop severe reactions that will need medical attention immediately.
According to BBC-Earth, the cocktail of the chemicals in the defensive fluid depends heavily on the species. Some millipedes even have hydrogen cyanide in their arsenal, an odorless chemical with roots that can be traced back to the chemical warfares in World War I. But you shouldn’t worry about this though because the species that have this usually belong to jungles and not in urban settings.
What happens when you get sprayed on?
To stop yourself from getting sprayed on, do not touch a millipede with bare hands. You should wear thick rubber gloves, goggles, a mask and some long protective clothing.
But if you ever do get the rotten luck of having to be exposed to a millipede’s acidic spray, wash your that body part with soap and running water. Do this until the smell goes away. Look for signs of a reaction and prepare the necessary countermeasures like an antihistamine or an epipen for allergic reactions or some ice to cool off the itching. And if your eyes were sprayed, get help right away.
How do you get rid millipedes?
Undoubtedly, the most effective way to avoid getting sprayed on is to get rid of the millipedes in the first place. Here are some easy ways that you can try at home.
- Clean your lawn. Millipedes eat dead plant materials. They’re attracted to rotting vegetables and leaves. So if you keep your lawn free from dead plants, you may not encounter these animals in your property.
- Cut your grass. Mow your lawn. Millipedes will hide in overgrown grass for shelter against predators and the sun.
- Trim your plants. Plants with wild overgrowing branches are good hiding places too.
- Stop leaky pipes and faucets. Millipedes are attracted to water. They need to survive. So having leaky garden hoses and faucets outside will definitely draw them in, as well as other creepy crawlies.
- Water your lawn in the mornings. Millipedes are especially active at night. So if you sprinkle your lawn in the morning, it won’t be as moist in the evening. Having to cross through dry grass isn’t particularly appealing for these arthropods.
- Fix your gutters. Having broken gutters can bring in a lot of runoff from the roof. This increases the moisture on your lawn and attracts millipedes.
- Caulk holes, cracks and crevices. Of course, you’d have to seal the little entryways in your home to get the creepy crawlies out.
So that’s it on the millipedes. If you ever have someone ask you the question Are Millipedes Poisonous? You’d know how to answer him as well some tips to get rid of them.