Are Millipedes poisonous?
You have most likely seen them if you have lived in a tropical climate like Florida. They can be found crawling across the ground or even up walls on hot days trying to escape the heat. If you have not seen them or just want more information, then you are in the right place. Wondering if they millipedes are poisonous is a common question and more people than you think are asking the same thing. I will tell you this- you may be thinking of a different creature if you are asking this question. You may be mistaking millipedes for a similar-looking pest known as a centipede. Centipedes are long and worm-like with a flat body. They are very different from millipedes in the fact that they are carnivores- they eat other living creatures by stunning them with a toxin. Don’t worry, they don’t typically stun humans.
What do they look like?
Even though people tend to mistake centipedes for millipedes; millipedes have a specific appearance. In Florida, they can range from a few centimeters when born to a couple of inches in length with a rounded body and visible segments. Depending on the type they can be anywhere from a reddish-brown to black. Their underbelly is covered in tiny legs giving them the common name “thousand leggers”. If you look closely you will also be able to see another distinct feature that millipedes lack. They do not have legs attached to their first and last segments. Although they may have many legs, they are slow-moving creatures and can be found under rocks, rotting wood, leaves, pots, and any debris that provides a shaded damp place for them to live.
Millipedes are rarely dangerous.
Yes, you heard right. Millipedes -especially in Florida- are not dangerous to people. Unlike centipedes these arthropods are not carnivorous they are detritivores; meaning they feed on decaying organic matter. This also implies that they do not have to stun their prey to consume it, but that does not mean they are unable to. Like most animals, millipedes are equipped with a way to protect themselves from predators. Some species produce a chemical that can irritate or stain skin when they feel threatened. In larger species, not found in Florida, there have been instances where they have blinded another animal or human. That being said- millipedes in Florida are harmless to homeowners. That is when they are being touched.
They live in your area.
You may be wondering if they may live near you, and most likely -yes- they do. Millipedes need moisture to live and because they are detritivores, they live anywhere that provides them with this type of environment. Now, are they going to damage your home? Absolutely not. Millipedes have been known to go indoors when the weather gets sweltering, but then again, who would want to be outside in such heat? I wouldn’t. Even when they do try to move indoors, they don’t cause any harm to your home. They will not ruin your foundation like termites or try to feed off you at night like bedbugs. Millipedes are just slow-moving guests that made a wrong turn and ended up in your kitchen. Just sweep them away and you will be just fine.
In short, no millipedes are not poisonous. Some species do have a defensive chemical that can irritate the skin but you don’t have to worry much- they try to mind their own business and are rarely a nuisance. If you see a millipede and want to move it out or away from your home you can ask an expert or sweep it away with a broom. It’s as easy as that.