Why millipedes seem to be thriving in Canberra


They have numerous legs, can emit a pungent smell and crunch underfoot.

If you have actually observed an increase of millipedes in your yard, your swimming pool or within on your walls recently, you are not alone.

March and April are millipede reproducing season, and thanks to the La Nina weather bringing more rain to Canberra, millipedes are thriving.

How to area a millipede

Millipedes are simple to area — they are long and round, and crawl up into a spiral when they are interrupted.

But do not be incorrect — a millipede isn’t a pest, according to Associate Professor Tanya Latty, an entomologist with an unique interest in pest behaviour and ecology at the University of Sydney.

“Millipedes are arthropods, which are a relative of insects, and they belong to a group called Diplopoda,” Dr Latty discussed.

“The legs happen in sets, so each sector will have 4 legs entirely; 2 per side. That’s what separates them from a centipede.”

Millipedes usually live in forests or in moist organic mater, and they are “actually vital for breaking down those huge particles of rotting wood and leaf litter, and putting those nutrients back into the soil,” Dr Latty said.

“They’re interesting animals.”

Understanding the Portuguese millipede

The Cotter Dam struck complete capability in October 2020 thanks to the boost in rain.(Supplied: Tim Burgess)

Dr Latty said there were about 600 species of millipede in Australia, “and nearly all of those are native”.

“The one that tends to trigger these break outs that we obtain from time to time is a non-native, called the Portuguese millipede,” she stated.

Dr Latty said that the reason we are seeing more Portuguese millipedes at the moment, is because “this is their breeding season”.

“They’re understood to come out in quite great deals right around March and April, specifically when there’s been some excellent rain, which ticks all packages today,” she said.

“For the next month they’ll roam round, discover a mate, then they’ll lay eggs in April or May, prior to settling a bit for the winter season.”

And, just as we’ve seen death cap mushrooms sprout earlier than usual in the ACT this year, most likely due to the wet weather and milder summer temperatures, so too does the rain affect millipede populations.

Dr Latty said she “would not be shocked if we have great deals of numbers” of millipedes across the next month, especially if the wet weather continues.

“They’re not very terrific at dealing with dry conditions, so if it dries you may see a decline, however it seems like it’s going to be a damp fall,” she stated.

So are millipedes bothersome?

Portuguese millipedes.
Portuguese millipedes have actually been understood to trigger train crashes when they swelling together.(ABC South East SA: Kate Hill )

The good news is that the Portuguese millipede is “most likely not” problematic, Dr Latty said.

“It’s constantly tough to state, we simply do not have a great deal of individuals actively studying millipede ecology,” she explained.

“But it’s most likely not a big issue.

“There’s no evidence they’re causing problems for our native millipede species, and while you get these outbreaks occasionally, it’s only once in a while that they start to becomes a real agricultural pest.

ABC Radio Canberra’s gardening guru, Graham Williams, said while millipedes “can multiply in specific conditions” it’s finest to leave them alone.

millipede canberra
People throughout Canberra have actually seen millipedes like this one “have actually shown up unexpectedly in great deals”.(ABC Radio Canberra: Bob Jones)

“They are more useful than not useful,” he said.

“They can be a little frustrating for things like flowers … they can do a bit of damage.

“But leaving them alone is probably the key [because] they actually break down a lot of waste in the garden.”

Occasionally, nevertheless, millipedes can reach numbers where they in fact stop trains.

A millipede afflict in Perth was blamed for a train crash in 2013, after great deals gathering on the tracks were squashed by trains, making the line slippery.

Dr Latty stated there was likewise a record of a millipede-induced train crash in Japan, and “from the early 2000s on the Ballarat line”.

“So it happens, but it’s fairly infrequent.”

Millipedes likewise do not provide a threat to human beings.

“They’re not particularly dangerous animals, they’re not like centipedes which can be venomous,” Dr Latty stated.

“They can secrete this stinky, mildly irritating stuff from their bodies if you handle them, but wearing gloves can help with that, and sweeping them out of the house is fine.”

How to stop millipedes getting in the house

If you discover Portuguese millipedes are entering into your home, there are a number of things you can do.

“This species of millipede is attracted to light, so you can try to switch exterior lights off overnight, or dim the lights of an evening to stop them streaming into the house,” Dr Latty stated.

“Also going around and looking for cracks in the house that they could be getting in. If there’s a gap between the door and the floor, that’s a huge amount of space for a millipede to crawl in.”

Millipedes likewise like damp, raw material like garden compost and mulch, so eliminating the quantity of that from in and around your home might likewise briefly minimize your millipede population.

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