Are Millipedes Dangerous?

Medically Reviewed on 3/19/2021
Millipedes belong to the family of arthropods (small animals with jointed, paired legs and no internal spine).
Millipedes belong to the family of arthropods (small animals with jointed, paired legs and no internal spine).

Millipedes belong to the family of arthropods (small animals with jointed, paired legs and no internal spine). They are characterized by well-rounded body segments and numerous legs.  They are closely related to lobsters, but unlike lobsters, millipedes are land dwellers.

Mostly, millipedes aren’t dangerous and do not carry disease that affects people, animals, or plants. They do not cause any damage to the furniture inside the house. However, some species of millipedes release toxins all over their body when threatened or handled roughly. However, they never bite or sting like centipedes.

Millipede toxins involve harmful chemicals like:

  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Hydrogen cyanide
  • Organic acids
  • Phenol
  • Cresols
  • Benzoquinones
  • Hydroquinones (in some millipedes)

If these toxins come in contact with the skin, symptoms may include:

If these toxins get in the eyes, symptoms may include:

What is a millipede?

Millipedes belong to the family of arthropods and have well-rounded body segments and numerous legs. They are commonly found in moist habitats with high humidity and are mostly active at night.

What are some ways to prevent millipede entry into the house?

Some of the effective ways to prevent millipede’s entry into the house include:

  • Sealing all the cracks and gaps around windows, doors, and pipes.
  • Vacuuming the millipedes trapped in the house and discarding the bag in the end.
  • Keeping vegetation and mulch at least 6 inches away from the base of the house to forbid the nesting of the millipedes.
  • Eliminating trash piles, rocks, boards, decaying grass and leaves, rotting wood, and other matters from the vicinity around the outside of the home. Millipedes like to nest there.

Also, if you come across a millipede, you should:

  • Never try to touch it with bare hands
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after handling millipedes
  • Avoid fluid contact with your eye

QUESTION

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Medically Reviewed on 3/19/2021
References
The University of Georgia. Millipedes and Centipedes. https://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=B1088&title=Millipedes%20and%20Centipedes

Medline Plus. Millipede Toxin. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002846.htm

Mulder P. Centipedes and Millipedes. Oklahoma State University. February 2017. https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/centipedes-and-millipedes.html