Centipedes are harmful to dogs
Millipedes, colloquially often called millipedes, do not have a thousand feet, but an animal can call more than 200 pairs of legs its own. A millipede becomes up to three centimeters long, is gray-black in color and shiny. Its body is divided into transverse ligaments, most of which are each equipped with two pairs of legs. On the head they are transformed into antennae and mouthparts.
Way of life
Millipedes have defensive glands on every part of their body, from which they excrete foul-smelling and sometimes even poisonous secretions when they approach enemies. That is why millipedes are avoided by birds and moles, hedgehogs and shrews as well as by predatory insects. They belong to the so-called tracheal breathers, which means that they do not breathe through their mouth, but through many small breathing holes in their body.
Millipedes feed mainly on dead plant parts and act as important waste disposers in nature. Like earthworms, they help break up dead organic material. These include, for example, clippings from mowing the lawn or autumn leaves in the garden. In this way, the insects make a significant contribution to a fertile, well-mixed and loose garden soil on which plants can thrive. Millipedes prefer moist soil as a habitat. Sometimes, however, especially when it is dry, they also nibble on seedlings, strawberries and root crops. Millipedes are nocturnal and usually hide during the day.
The millipede (Myriapoda), also known as the metropod, belongs to the group of arthropods, which, with over a million known species, represent the largest tribe in the animal kingdom. The number of millipedes known to date is more than 10,000 species, but there are probably many more. Millipedes are divided into four subclasses: bipedes (Diplopoda), little pods (Pauropoda), pygmy pods (Symphyla) and centipedes (Chilopoda).
In contrast to their many-footed relatives, the centipedes feed mainly on zoophagus, i.e. on other animals, and are therefore beneficial insects. Their victims include various soft-skinned articulated animals, such as aphids, which they paralyze with a poison bite and then suck out. They are light brown in color and have only one pair of legs per limb. The stippled millipede, which is a maximum of one centimeter long, ocher-colored and marked with a bright red dot on each segment, is particularly common in our gardens and feels magically attracted by ripening strawberries.
Damage to the root neck of seedlings or young plants is typical of millipedes. But they also gnaw on the bulbs of orchids, i.e. the thickened parts of the stem axis in which the plants store nutrients. The damage pattern is similar to that of snails - but without the distinctive slime trail.
Plants often affected
When it comes to their food, millipedes are not very picky. Her favorite dishes include strawberries and cucumber in general, vegetables, especially root vegetables, and orchids. If they don't find anything like that in a garden, the insects attack other plants as well.
If the presence of millipedes in your garden is known or you want to grow their favorite plants, you can preventively put upside down flower pots as shelter. Lures made of carrot or potato slices underneath attract the millipedes in a targeted manner so that the insects concentrate in one place. Lures placed under wooden boards serve the same purpose. From there, the millipedes can be easily picked up, especially because the insects curl up in a spiral thanks to an innate reflex and remain motionless in place in the event of dangers such as "approaching the enemy".
Tip: Experience has shown that strawberries that are underlaid with wood wool or straw and do not lie on the ground are often spared by the millipedes.
As long as the millipedes do not get out of hand in your garden, you should tolerate them as natural waste decomposers and valuable helpers in terms of soil improvement. Only move to real control measures in extreme cases, such as when your entire crop is at risk. In specialist shops there are special grit and pouring agents against arthropods.
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