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Q: Bug identification - Chapel Hill North Carolina ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   6 Comments )
Subject: Bug identification - Chapel Hill North Carolina
Category: Science > Biology
Asked by: wurzelma-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 13 Jun 2004 07:51 PDT
Expires: 13 Jul 2004 07:51 PDT
Question ID: 360347
Right now, and for the past week or two little bugs have been evident
in and around our house. They are blac-brown, about an inch long and
2-3 mm wide, and crawl like caterpillars or centipedes. If you should
try to step on them they curl up into little spirals. They "crunch"
when you succesfully squash one. I find them crawling on the walls and
floor, and last night on the screens of the rear porch. This happens
every year about this time (June). I believe they get into the house
through the air-conditioning ducts. The infestation usually lasts only
a couple of weeks. The succesful answer will include a reference which
will allow me to learn much more about these bugs.

Request for Question Clarification by markj-ga on 13 Jun 2004 08:35 PDT
wurzelma --

Does this look like your critter?


Clarification of Question by wurzelma-ga on 13 Jun 2004 09:53 PDT
No. No my critter is thinner and longer. If I can get a hold of a
digital camera I'll try to post a picture. I would not be surprised if
it is  a larval or other intermediate stage of some other bug.

Clarification of Question by wurzelma-ga on 14 Jun 2004 06:17 PDT
There's a picture at the following URL:

Sorry I don't have a macro lens. My son labelled it centipede, but I
believe this is true in only the most generic sense. As I said about 3
mm wide and 1-1.5 inches long.

Subject: Re: Bug identification - Chapel Hill North Carolina
Answered By: librariankt-ga on 14 Jun 2004 11:20 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi Wurzelma,

I know exactly what you're dealing with, as they are all over the
sides of my house too, and seem to have found a way into my bathroom
(I live in your area).  They are indeed millipedes.  The good news is
that they are generally harmless, if creepy (some species do have a
venomous bite).  The bad news is that most pesticides aren't useful in
their control, and you just have to wait for them to go away. 
According to some websites I read, they like dark, damp spaces - so
maybe the reason we're seeing so many this year is because of the wet
summer we had last year (more eggs laid last year = more millipedes
this year).  Let's just hope the hot dry spring/early summer we're
having right now kills them off...

I've found a bunch of websites that I hope you will find interesting:

Millipedes show up often in the North Carolina Pest News, including
the article found by Tutuzdad (see his comment, below), and the
July 5, 2002
July 12, 2002 

The best article by far (and most relevant to us TarHeels) is the
Insect Note "Controlling Millipedes In and Around Homes" from the NC
Cooperative Extension Service at

Here are some others of interest:

Centipedes and Millipedes with Emphasis on North America Fauna
by Rowland M. Shelley (a lecture for the Kansas School Naturalist)

Virginia Cooperative Extension: Millipede

Iowa Insect Information Notes: Millipedes

INHS Reports May-June 1995: Species Spotlight: Millipedes

I found these websites by doing a Google search for ""North Carolina"
millipedes".  Again, I feel your pain - it's just freaky going to the
bathroom at night and stepping on one.  I remember they used to get
into my parents' basement when I was little - so in the early summer
I'd refuse to go down there because they were all over!  And for some
reason they smell like narcissus flowers when they die... Weird. 
Anyway, good luck with them, I hope the above was interesting, and if
you need more information please feel free to leave me a clarification


wurzelma-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
This was an excellent answer. Thanks to all who commented. If someone
can tell me how, I'd be pleased to pay each of you.

Subject: Re: Bug identification - Chapel Hill North Carolina
From: markj-ga on 13 Jun 2004 10:42 PDT
I look for forward to a photo.  In the meantime, here are a couple
more critters for your viewing pleasure.  These are closer to the size
you have described. They have different colorations, but they are the
same species.  One of the pics demonstrates the spiral posture that
they assume:
Subject: Re: Bug identification - Chapel Hill North Carolina
From: tutuzdad-ga on 14 Jun 2004 06:52 PDT
I believe what you are enduring is an infestation of millipedes. This
is somewhat common to North Carolina as evidenced in this North
Carolina Pest News report:

"...gray to brown colored arthropods with worm-like, round bodies
usually 0.5 to 1.5 inches in length. They have short antennae and up
to 30 pairs of legs or more. Known as thousand-leggers, millipedes
walk slowly with their legs moving in a wavelike motion. Millipedes
curl up tightly when disturbed. Millipede eggs are smooth, round,
white to brown in color and are laid in sticky clusters. Immature
millipedes are smaller than the adults."


Please let me know if this answers your question.

Subject: Re: Bug identification - Chapel Hill North Carolina
From: markj-ga on 14 Jun 2004 08:46 PDT
wurzelma --

Since the two links I included with my previous comment were images of
millipedes, I too am interested in whether tutuzdad's later suggestion
that your critters may be millipedes is correct.

(For some reason, your link to the photo that you took says that the
page is "unavailable" so I can't judge for myself.)

Subject: Re: Bug identification - Chapel Hill North Carolina
From: markj-ga on 14 Jun 2004 16:43 PDT
wurzelma -- 

For myself, I appreciate your generosity in offering to pay something
to each of us, but I don't think it is called for in this case.  Even
though the three of us reserachers came to the same conclusion (i.e.,
that you likely had millipedes), librariankt was the only one who
dared post an answer without having seen your pests.

Subject: Re: Bug identification - Chapel Hill North Carolina
From: librariankt-ga on 15 Jun 2004 07:13 PDT
Yeah, I figured since I've got the darned things in my bathroom (found
another this morning) I knew what they were and didn't need a photo. 
Ah, the advantages of regional identity! It helped a lot, Wurzelma,
that you stated where you were - otherwise I'd never have dared to
answer without a picture. - Librariankt
Subject: Re: Bug identification - Chapel Hill North Carolina
From: jalapeno-ga on 02 Jul 2004 20:41 PDT
i live in northeast mississippi and i am also having a HUGE millipede
invasion. putting sevin dust around my doors and windows has helped
the inside invasion somewhat,but right outside the doors and all along
the frame of the door on the wood,and brick,they are packed up in
groups by the hundreds.

i feel your pain,but so far i've not really found anything that keeps
them completely away

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