Greenhouse Millipede: They’re Good for Your Garden

Have you ever seen a strange, worm-like critter in your greenhouse? Don’t worry! It could be the greenhouse millipede, a small but interesting creature that plays a big part in keeping ecosystems healthy. In this article, we’ll explore some cool facts about this tiny marvel, like its special body and behaviors, and how it helps your plants develop.

Greenhouse Millipede
Scientific name: Oxidus gracilis
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Diplopoda
Order: Polydesmida
Family: Paradoxosomatidae
Genus: Oxidus

They are familiar species in our house

The greenhouse millipede, also called the garden millipede, flat-backed millipede, or hothouse millipede, is a well-known and widely recognized type of millipede. Unlike its more common counterparts, this millipede boasts a moderately flattened body from top to bottom and displays a lighter coloration. Ranging from grayish to reddish-brown to black, its body contrasts with cream-colored legs and keels.

A greenhouse millipede adult

Measuring between ¾ to 1 inch in length and slightly over 1/16 inch in width as adults, these millipedes feature prominently visible legs. Notably, they sport small “flanges” or ridges running along the sides of each body segment, adding to their distinctive appearance.

Habitat

The greenhouse millipede originally came from Japan but is now found in many places worldwide, including Asia, North and South America, and Europe. It’s quite adaptable, thriving in various environments, from the steamy rainforests of Southeast Asia to the cooler weather of the UK and Scandinavia.

These millipedes prefer hidden spots with plenty of moisture to prevent drying out. They are often found in gardens, greenhouses (which gave them their name), and even among potted houseplants. They also like hanging out under stones, in flower beds, on concrete slabs, or under sidewalks.

greenhouse millipede habitat

In nature, they live in forests on the ground, among fallen leaves, rotting plants, and wet soil. You can also find them in places like burrows, inside logs, and other cool, dark spots.

In their habitat, these garden millipedes use their antennae to find their way around since they don’t have eyes. The species are nocturnal creatures. In the daytime, they don’t do much and just stay still. If something bothers them, they might curl up and stay still until the trouble goes away.

Greenhouse Millipede Diet

Greenhouse millipedes eat a variety of foods, including plants and small insects. These omnivores particularly like to eat rotting plants, fungi, mosses, and wood. They also eat moist fruits and vegetables, along with small animals like worms and insects.

When feeding food, they release enzymes that break down different kinds of nutrients in their food, like sugars, proteins, and fats, which give them energy. These enzymes also help them find food.

Young greenhouse millipede eating

Greenhouse millipedes have several predators, including toads, chickens, birds, and shrews. Their young are targeted by ants, ground beetles, and spiders.

Similar to other millipedes, garden millipedes release stinky toxins when they feel threatened. This defense mechanism makes them unappealing to most predators. While greenhouse millipedes are poisonous to predators, they pose no harm to humans.

Life cycle

Greenhouse millipedes mate when they are around 6-7 months old. After mating, the female lays 40-50 eggs either in the soil or under decaying organic matter.

These eggs take about 2-6 weeks to hatch, giving rise to small, white millipedes with only six pairs of legs. As they grow, they undergo complete metamorphosis, shedding their skin several times over the next few months until they become adults. You can see more about millipede reproduction here.

The lifespan of a greenhouse millipede is typically 4-7 years.

Benefits and Infestation

Millipedes are helpful species in the ecosystem. They break down dead plants and improve soil quality. By moving through the soil, they also help plants grow better. They’re part of the diet of birds and frogs, which is good for the whole ecosystem.

They aren’t dangerous to people or animals. They don’t bite, sting, spread diseases, or damage buildings. However, if their environment changes too much (like if it gets too wet or too dry), they might end up seeking shelter in houses and other structures. So, you might find them gathering in places like window wells, patios, garages, or basements. If they get into our house, they will die soon since the humidity inside is too dry for them.

An infestation of greenhouse millipede

So, if you find them in plants, in your garden, it’s best to leave them alone because they’re good for your garden. If you don’t want greenhouse millipedes to go into your house, focus on prevention and reducing moisture.

  • Seal cracks and gaps around your home with materials like weather stripping and caulking.
  • Ensure good airflow in basements and crawlspaces, and consider using dehumidifiers if they get too damp.
  • Make sure water flows away from your house and keep the area tidy to eliminate moisture sources.
  • Keep your lawn dry by regularly removing thatch, cutting the grass short, and placing trash cans away from the building.

Reference: bantam.earth

Homepage
Author

Animal Facts 276

We are passionate animal enthusiasts with over a decade of experience studying animals. With a degree in zoology and conservation biology, we've contributed to various research and conservation projects. We're excited to bring you engaging content that highlights the wonders of the animal kingdom. We aim to inspire others to appreciate and protect wildlife through informative content grounded in expertise and passion. Join us as we delve into the captivating world of animals and discover the incredible stories they have to tell.

Leave a Comment