Get to know Millipedes

Legend: GOOD BAD

Get to know the Black Portuguese Millipede Ommatoiulus moreletii

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  • The colour of the Black Portuguese millipede is blackish or brownish in colour with some red, orange or with a spotty pattern.
  • The Black Portuguese millipede is Long and cylindrical in shape, is wormlike with antennae.
  • Adult Black Portuguese millipedes are 20mm– 45mm in length.
  • Black Portuguese millipedes reproduce in late Autumn and early winters.
  • Black Portuguese millipedes hatch from eggs in the soil and initially have 3 pairs of legs.
  • Black Portuguese millipedes develops through a series of moults adding more segments and legs.
  • The first year of life, juveniles have reached the seventh, eighth and ninth stage of development and will be around 15mm.
  • The black Portuguese Millipede reaches maturity at 2 years and will be around 20mm – 45mm in length.
  • Portuguese millipedes are most active at night.
  • During hot dry weather, the millipedes remain hidden in the soil.
  • Spring rainy weather in particularly in autumn, stimulates activity, often leading to an outbreak in numbers with thousands of millipedes on the grounds surface.
  • Black Portuguese millipedes congregate in large numbers especially after first Autumn rains.

The Black Portuguese millipede is an herbivorous (plant eater) millipede native to Portugal. This species was accidentally introduced into Australia, first recorded in WA in 1986, where it has since become an invasive pest. Lacking natural predators in Australia, the black Portuguese millipede has thrived to ‘plague’ proportions. They have been known to enter residences due to their sheer numbers.

As a defense mechanism, the millipede secretes a pungent yellowish fluid containing hydrogen cyanide which irritates eyes and stains clothes permanently. Due to this defence mechanism, it is advised that people sweep them up rather than crushing them.

Always use a registered insecticide, the insecticide must have the millipede symbol/image on the label.

Millipedes can be easily treated with a direct spray of aerosol insecticide. Preventing the entry of millipedes in and around premises is best done by treating the outer perimeter of the premises with a barrier insecticide, a good coverage at ground level and around possible entry points is recommended.

Note: When using a registered pesticide, always follow the directions on the label. If poisoning occurs, contact the Poisons Information Centre on 131126.

Engaging a professional Pest Controller is another option.