On Crops: Seedlings, soft fruits, root vegetables, onions, potato and other plant tubers
Throughout UK and Europe
These are small snake-like creatures that have long cylindrical segmented bodies. They can grow up to 20mm in length and will coil up when disturbed. Each of their body segments has two pairs of legs. Eggs are laid in small batches during spring and early summer. The young millipedes look very similar to the adults and can take two or more years to reach maturity depending on climate.
Millipedes have weak mouthparts so will only damage soft and tender plant tissue. Seedling stems and leaves can be eaten whilst damage on bulbs and tubers appears as small holes.
Keep the growing areas where millipedes could occur, clean and free of old leaves and bark. Regularly weed between plants and turn the soil during the winter months to expose millipedes to the many different predators they have.
In most cases the damage caused by millipedes is minimal and doesn’t warrant controlling. However, it’s always worth removing millipedes by hand when found in locations where susceptible plants are grown.
Infected crops should be removed during the winter months. Millipedes that may be overwintering underground can be exposed to predatory birds by regularly digging the soil.