The Millipede is and underground feeder of roots, bulbs, corms and underground plant parts. it is a slow moving black or spotted grub that normally curls up if disturbed. It has many small hair-like legs which are carried below its body.
It is happy feeding and causing damage on roots of all plants, and also bulbs and tubers. Most writings will tell you that Millipedes mainly live on decaying organic matter such as dead roots and leaves.
They are prone to burrowing into potato tubers, various bulbs and also young plant roots. However, Millipedes should not be mistaken for wireworms. In the greenhouse they can be a troublesome pest, and if plants suddenly fail, then Millipedes damage must also be thought of as a possibility. Greenhouse infestation is rare – unless there is a lot of debris that will give them shelter. Keep the greenhouse tidy, and Millipedes should never be a problem.
Millipedes are usually encountered when digging garden soil.
There is no chemical control available for this root-eating garden pest. Simply destroy any that might be found when cultivating or cropping plants.
Millipedes have to spend most of their life below soil level or at least in total shade, for the way their body is constructed, make them prone to water loss – leading to desiccation and eventual death.
This is an important control aspect if you have Millipedes in your greenhouse. Clear out all the damp areas, and the Millipedes will have no suitable home.
Millipedes are often confused with Centipedes. The basic difference visually, is that Millipedes are slow moving, whilst the Centipede scurries along. Reason for speed difference, is that Millipedes are vegetarian, whilst Centipedes are carnivorous. Millipedes eat parts of your plant. Centipedes catch and eat insects. Worse still is the fact that Millipedes generally eat live plant tissue, not decaying matter. You may have read otherwise, that Millipedes live mainly on dead or dying plant tissue. Those found in UK gardens also eat live plant tissue, and if a problem in the greenhouse, are capable of eating out the growing tips of seedling.
Other than the speed element, Millipedes are recognizable in that they often curl up into a coil.