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Summary: Millipedes require lots of moisture to survive so look for areas where water accumulates around your house to discover where millipedes are gaining entry.

Martine; Ottawa, Ontario writes:

My husband and I moved into our house last July. We soon realized that there was a problem when we discovered millepeds falling from the ceiling in the basement. I did some research on the Internet but didn't find a lot of information as to how to get rid of them. I went to Home Depot and bought
some "Grub out" because it was the only product that mentioned millipeds.  Over the winter we didn't see any, but now that the nice weather has arrived, so have our "friends". Could you please tell us what we could do to get rid of these disgusting, crunchy little worms?

Dear Martine:

Millipedes normally live outdoors, but at certain times of the year when there is a lot of rain or drought, millipedes do a mass migration from the soil as they seek dryer areas during heavy rains or cooler, moister areas during droughts. In both situations, houses provide the perfect shelter. They cannot survive in water-saturated soil, nor in dried, parched soil. In the fall they migrate looking for protective sites where they can survive through the winter. These migrations can cause thousands of millipedes to end up in piles on garage or ground floor surfaces.

Without seeing a picture of the outside of your house I'm going to guess that one of several things are happening to encourage millipedes.

  1. The slope of the yard runs downhill toward your house.
  2. You have no gutters on the roofline where you are finding the millipedes.
  3. Your landscape mulch is mounded up in such a way that rainfall runs back towards the foundation of the house.

In all three instances, moisture is running towards the foundation of your house and those are conditions in which millipede thrive. So, to correct any of these conditions you need to direct water away from the foundation. Let's take them one at a time.

To correct water running down a slope you need to intercept the water before it gets to the house. That requires putting in an underground drain line about ten feet from the foundation of the house. Water is captured in the line and is directed around the house and away from the foundation. This job is probably best done by an outside contractor.

Water falling off rooftops can only be corrected by installing gutters. Some houses simply do not have wrap-around gutter systems and water is permitted to fall from the roof. If the slope of the land is sufficient, the water will be carried away. If not, you get lots of moisture seeping into your house.

The easiest problem is the misdirected water caused by mulch buildup. Mulch has to slope away from foundations. The mulch should be built up the side of the foundation wall to make sure water does not collect at the base of the foundation, but do not allow the mulch to cover the entire foundation wall. Be sure there is at least four to five inches of space between the top of the mulch and the first course of brick or siding. Mulch contact with brick or siding can create a direct traffic lane for termites.

All of these measures will help correct drainage and move water from your foundation and make it less attractive to all those annoying invading insects.

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