Portuguese millipedes are on the march after the first rains of the season, invading homes and buildings across the South West of the State.
While the small, black, rounded creatures are useful for breaking down organic matter, they do not pose a risk to humans, animals, crops or the environment.
Department of Agriculture and Food senior technical officer Marc Widmer said there were a number of methods to reduce the millipede population, which were best used in combination.
“Portuguese millipedes feed on organic material, including decaying wood, moss and old leaves so the best course of action is to reduce as much plant material around the house as possible,” Mr Widmer said.
“They are one of the few millipede species that are attracted to lights at night, so it’s best to turn off lights and close curtains and blinds. Once inside the house, they will most likely die.”
Physical barriers can be erected to stop millipedes from entering premises.
“Smooth physical barriers, like plate glass strips fixed to walls, below doorsteps, window ledges and vent bricks, can be set up to stop millipedes from entering” Mr Widmer said.
“Another technique is to use two adhesive aluminium tapes along a barrier charged with a small electric current from a nine volt battery – but never use mains electricity.
“A less permanent barrier is to use a smooth plastic or teflon coated adhesive at least five centimetres wide taped to a wall.”
A moat and trap system could also be installed around dwellings, where the millipedes fall into a wet or dry moat and cannot escape the overhanging sides.
A weather-proof light trap could be used in conjunction with the moat and trap system.
Chemical barriers of at least one metre wide can also remove or deter the pests, however, Mr Widmer urged people to use caution when using treatments and to do so according to the label instructions.
“Chemicals should be applied to outside walls, paths and garden beds and other areas where millipedes are thought to breed and may need to be reapplied to have ongoing control,” he said.
“A natural control treatment made from nematodes found in the environment is also available from commercial providers.”
For more information about Portuguese millipede control click here.
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