Autumn weather brings out Portuguese millipedes
5 April 2012
Recent wet weather has stimulated Portuguese millipede activity in the metropolitan and regional areas.
The Department of Agriculture and Food has received several reports of the small, shiny, black invertebrates, mainly from the southern suburbs and the town of Harvey.
Department spokesman Marc Widmer said Portuguese millipedes were often a major nuisance with the first rains, but were of no threat to human or animal health, the environment or agriculture.
“They feed and breed in leaf litter and mulch and are inactive over summer and the cooler months of winter, but autumn and spring rainfall re-activates them,” he said.
The first reports of Portuguese millipedes were from Roleystone in 1986, spreading to the Perth Hills area. In more recent years, they have been reported in the South-West region.
Mr Widmer said there were simple steps residents could take to minimise the impact of Portuguese millipedes.
“Reducing leaf litter, mulch and compost directly around the house will discourage them to some extent, because this is where they shelter,” he said.
“They don’t travel far in their lifetime and have probably been reared within 100 metres from where you see them.
“These millipedes are attracted to lights at night, so turning off outside lights near buildings and minimising light seen from inside the home with curtains and weatherstrips on doors can also reduce entry.
“Physical barriers can help. Millipedes can’t cross smooth, vertical surfaces so employing barriers like strips of tape, glass or smooth metal at least 50 millimetres wide around the base of the building, stairs or other entry points will minimise their access to these areas.”
Mr Widmer said chemical treatments were also an option. “These can be sprayed in a metre-wide band around the outside perimeter of the house, including the outside walls, paths and garden beds – just make sure the label instructions are followed,” he said. “Proprietary surface sprays can also be used around points of entry such as doorways.”
A combination of two or more suggested options applied together will usually have a greater effect, and this may be important in areas with sustained high populations.
For more information a Gardennote on Portuguese millipedes is available on the department’s website www.agric.wa.gov.au by searching for ‘Portuguese millipede’.
Alternatively contact the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service on 1800 084 881.
Marc Widmer, DAFWA entomologist 9368 3759
Jodie Thomson/Lisa Bertram, media liaison 9368 3937/3325
|Culinary Journeys - All the Tourism...|
|Planning for Profit Workshop...|