Is It Dangerous To Touch Millipedes In Nashville?
May 7, 2021
For most folks, millipedes are sort of a mystery. While household pests like ants, spiders, and cockroaches are known and understood widely, millipedes are less common and are often treated with a mix of disgust and curiosity. These many-legged pests don’t have a stinger or powerful jaws and are usually docile in nature. You might be tempted to pick up the millipedes you find, but the question is, is it dangerous to touch millipedes in Nashville?
Millipedes are long-bodied arthropods composed of many segments, each with their own respective pair of legs. The name “millipede” means “thousand legs” but contrary to popular belief, most millipedes have between 34 to 400 legs (which is still a lot!). Exotic millipedes found in tropical locations can have up to 750 legs and grow to over a foot in length. However, the typical millipede found in a U.S. home is usually between just ½ inch and 1 ½ inches in length.
Are Millipedes Dangerous?
Millipedes are more of a nuisance pest than a threat to your health and wellbeing. Unlike common pests like rodents and cockroaches, millipedes aren’t known to spread disease or cause any significant damage to property. In fact, these pests would rather keep to themselves than cause trouble.
When threatened, a millipede’s natural defense mechanism is to curl up into a ball. This position protects their soft underside and gives them a better chance of survival against the pecking, biting, or clawing of predators. However, this isn’t their only means of defense.
While millipedes are not aggressive and don’t sting or bite, they do produce a caustic chemical fluid that can be dangerous if not dealt with properly. Composed of hydrochloric acid, this defensive fluid serves as the final deterrent against predators who may try to chomp on a helpless millipede.
For humans, touching a millipede often provokes the release of this hydrochloric acid fluid. Contact with this fluid can cause irritation, chemical burns, and discoloration of the skin. This fluid is also said to leave an unpleasant odor lingering on the skin for days. If the fluid makes contact with the eyes, it can cause intense pain and may require medical attention.
While they may be gentle critters, millipedes are potentially dangerous to touch and should only be handled with gloves, or better yet, not handled at all.
Why Do Millipedes Come Indoors?
Millipedes are happiest outdoors and are called one of nature’s best recyclers. Millipedes prefer a habitat with lots of moist, decaying organic matter to feed on. They help to convert dead leaves and other plant materials into nutrient-rich soil much faster than natural decay. But harsh weather conditions can force them to seek shelter indoors.
Millipedes usually appear indoors following periods of heavy rain or extreme drought. Inside, millipedes are often found hiding out under storage boxes and heavy appliances in basements. Basements are typically humid and provide a safe shelter for these pests as they seek refuge from the weather. Millipede infestations are often short-lived as the pests die from lack of moisture and proper food, but infestations can persist under the right conditions.
If you’ve noticed millipedes on your Nashville property, get in touch with the experts at Urbanex for advice and assistance to deal with your problem. Our family and veteran-owned business strives to provide our customers with the best service possible. All of our services are designed around the unique needs of each customer and are always safe for families and pets. So, if you’ve been experiencing trouble with millipedes or any other pests in Nashville, don’t wait, contact the professionals at Urbanex today.