Millipedes are invading homes all around Oahu.
Residents from across the island used the Report It feature on our website and asked us to look into the problem, so we did.
After our story initially aired, we heard from viewers on Hawaii Island who were also dealing with millipedes.
We learned there are two kinds of them — the red ones known as cinnamon millipedes, which are just over an inch long, and the garden millipede, which is black and a little smaller.
So why are so many of them coming out, and how do you get rid of them?
Experts say recent wet weather might have something to do with it, but some residents say they have never seen so many of them before.
Kailua resident Bob Kimura says he’s had to clean his yard daily over the last couple of weeks to get rid of the red millipedes. He’s lived there for 20 years and has never seen it this bad.
“Not in this amount, not in this much quantity and with that much persistence over weeks,” he said.
What’s making the problem worse is that they’re getting inside the house.
“It’s a nuisance, because they start crawling on the carpets and the floors, but they don’t hurt you. They don’t bite you,” Kimura said. “It’s just a creepy feeling of seeing them crawling in your house.”
The Hawaii Department of Agriculture says it’s received a few calls about problems with millipedes, but this is not the first time. It happens periodically.
Entomologist Darcy Oishi says millipedes live and breed underground, but recent rains might have caused the ground to become too wet, which forces them to come out.
“They feed on decaying matter. That’s their primary food source,” Oishi explained, “so if they’re going into people’s homes, it’s probably escaping the weather, the existing conditions outside.”
We also contacted pest control companies who told us that they have been receiving more calls about it all over Oahu.
“Our theory is that they’ve always been there. Perhaps they haven’t been flushed out the year before, so it could be they have a couple of years built up in their ground, in their soil,” said Ian Mateo, owner of Pest Tech Hawaii.
To keep them out, Mateo suggests residents avoid over-watering the lawn, rake the leaves often, and don’t leave mulch on the ground. Millipedes also secrete some type of acid as a defense mechanism, which can stain carpet and tiles. For some people, they can also be harmful if allergic.
“It can be an irritant, certainly. It can make you itchy. You can certainly react to it and just wash up after,” said Oishi.
There are also pesticides you can use that will kill millipedes, but you have to apply them regularly. Pest companies can also treat your yard to help stop millipedes from going inside the house.