Insect Identity - centipede, millipede, caterpillar?

Asked June 26, 2019, 9:03 AM EDT

I have been finding an enormous amount of this worm like insect in the top of my flower pots, the bottom of the pots in the soil under the mulch well everywhere. What are these? I have not seen them before and if I disturb them they try and get away fast with all those legs they have. I DO NOT own a cell phone to send a picture but is anyone else finding these critters and what are they eating? Also, how can I get a soil test from you guys?

Charles County Maryland

1 Response

It sounds like you are dealing with millipedes. These are harmless though their populations can go up occasionally and they can make a nuisance of themselves. It's usually weather-related. Since they are a normal part of a healthy environment, you don't want to eliminate them entirely, just manage them. Since they feed on decaying vegetation, rake up old leaves, etc. around the house. Try to dry the areas up a bit, exposing soil, flower pots, etc., to sun and drying breezes. Predators will reduce their numbers eventually.

Here are more tips about how to handle them: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/millipedes

In addition, here is a link to our information on how to get a soil test. A list of recommended labs is provided. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/soil-testing

If you are testing soil for a vegetable garden, we recommend including a test for lead. The University of Delaware includes lead testing in its basic soil analysis.

Christa