Portuguese Millipedes in WA



Millipede control is more than just an annual/six monthly chemical application. We have a firm belief that providing integrated treatment options that include a nematode release and the use of light traps, allow our clients to have far better treatment success. 

Portuguese Millipedes have become a major problem throughout the southern states of Australia and their impact is certainty being felt here in WA.  Unfortunately, we are only at the beginning of our infestation cycle.  Over the past 14 years of business we have seen the need for their control, significantly rise in WA.          

Portuguese Millipedes (Ommatoiulus moreletii) belong to a group of insects called Myriapoda.  There are several different types of native Australian millepedes which are brown in colour, have a bumpy appearance and are usually found in low numbers.  The Portuguese millepede however, have a smooth, dark brown cylindrical body made up of segments and reproduce in masses.  They curl up into a circle as a defence mechanism and make thrashing snake like movements when they are trying to escape.  When millipedes become agitated they secrete a yellow liquid that has a foul odour and stains paving and walls. They feed on leaf litter, decaying wood and other vegetable matter.  They thrive in mulch and use rocks, paving and concrete to shelter from the elements like rain and heat.

Portuguese Millipedes reproduce in autumn and early winter, depending on seasonal rain.  The female millipede lays around 200 eggs in the soil.  The young millipedes (nymphs) remain in the soil for about 6 months before they emerge as juvenile millipedes.  This is why there is generally a re-emergence during spring rains.  They are extremely resilient and can survive without food and water for up to 4 weeks!

Envirapest have invested in finding other means of control to offer our clients.  Over the past three years we have been developing and trialling two different treatment options that we are excited to sell to the pest control market. 

  • The first is the use of a biological control method – a natural, native nematode. 
  • The second is the development of a patented millipede light trap.

NEMATODE – Rhabditis Necromena

Nematodes are small parasitic worms that occur naturally in the soil.  The nematode called Rhabditis Necromena is an Australian native nematode that can be released to attack millipedes.  These microscopic worms enter the body of the adult millipede and release a bacteria which breaks down the millipede tissue on which the nematodes can feed. They do not affect humans, pets or plants and because they are native, they won’t become an introduced pest themselves.

Remember, they are already here in our Australian soil.

When a millipede infestation occurs – there is generally a 10-15 year cycle before the nematode population builds up enough naturally to affect the millipede numbers.  By mass releasing these nematodes through April- June you are essentially speeding up this natural cycle and reducing the time frame to between 1-2 years.

The nematodes reproduce inside the dead millipede and then find their way back into the soil to start another infestation cycle during the winter months.  This particular type of nematode is specific to millipedes ONLY.  Remember, they will not hurt other animals, plants or insects.

The downside is that a nematode release is not suitable for all properties.  Small urban blocks are not suitable for nematode release because of area size.  However, they can be beneficial in situations where an urban house is adjacent to an open area where millipedes invade from, such as bush/park land.  The general rule is an acre or more is needed for a nematode release to be beneficial.

After the purchase of nematodes is made, they are placed in petri dishes for a period of time with live millipedes and then released around the property in a structured way.  We sell them in a DIY kit and also offer a start to finish service, where we release the nematodes on the client’s behalf.  One of the challenges, surprisingly, was collecting the live millipedes.  We found that this was proving hard for our clients, so we have developed a millipede light trap to help with this service.

This high quality patented trap can be purchased as a 240-volt option, or a portable LED.  They come in five different colours and are able to be set up outside under verandas, patios and sheds.  Once the millipedes are caught, they can be easily disposed of or infected with nematodes and released.  The light attracts the millipedes – drawing them away from entry points and windows.  We find the light trap is also a great option for clients who aren’t looking for either chemical or biological control.

Contact us for more information on 1300 368 472 or www.envirapest.com.au to purchase our patented millipede light traps or nematodes DYI kits for your business today.

Article provided by Western Envirapest & Weed Solutions

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