first_imgBy Mike IsbellUniversity of GeorgiaSeveral people have come to my office concerned with a worm-likeinsect with legs. They’re finding them by the hundreds. No, youbetter make that tens of thousands.What really concerned these folks was when they found the insectsin the wood-chip mulch around their foundations and crawling upthe walls of the house.The insects are millipedes, small, hard, cylindrical arthropodswith two pairs of legs on most body segments. You’ll probablyhear them called “thousand-legged worms.”Sometimes people confuse them with centipedes or “hundred-leggedworms.” There is a difference. And if you’ve ever been bitten bya centipede, you know there’s a big difference.Slow-movingMillipedes are common animals usually found in soil and debris orunder stones and bark. They’re slow-moving (even with all thoselegs).Most of them feed on plants or decaying materials. They don’tbite. They range from a few millimeters to about 4 inches long.Most are a dark color, sometimes with light markings. Many willgive off a bad-smelling liquid if they’re disturbed or mashed.The ones in the tropics can cause skin irritations.Centipedes are similar to millipedes, but their bodies are muchmore flattened. Their legs (15 or more pair) are arranged withone pair per body segment. They have a claw-like, poisonous jaw.Millipedes don’t bite. Centipedes do. And they hurt. I know –I’ve been bitten by one.Fast-movingCentipedes are also common animals and, like the millipedes, arefound in soil and debris, under bark and in rotting wood.Centipedes are fast-moving, though, and feed on insects. They’regenerally yellow to dark brown and can grow to about 6 inches.Both millipedes and centipedes can come indoors from mulchedareas or rotting wood around your foundation. Several commoninsecticides can control them. If you have problems with them,call your county office of the University of Georgia ExtensionService.(Mike Isbell is the Heard County Extension Coordinator withthe University of Georgia College of Agricultural andEnvironmental Sciences.)last_img

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