Millipedes Can Invade Arizona Homes Where They Sometimes Spray A Painful And Irritating Compounds Onto Human Skin
Many Arizona residents have likely encountered large and intimidating centipedes within rural and suburban habitats, and few residents have managed to avoid encounters with common house centipedes. Millipedes look similar to centipedes and they are commonly spotted within urban, rural and residential yards. It is not uncommon for millipedes to infest homes in Arizona in large numbers. Once millipedes enter homes in the state they often gravitate to dark corners where residents often sustain chemical burns from millipede secretions. The millipede species, Orthoporus ornatus, has probably been encountered around homes, in parks or just about any natural environment where soil can be found. The common Orthoporus ornatus millipede species, which is more commonly referred to as the “desert millipede,” is also considered a household pest in Arizona, and it is not uncommon for residents to sustain chemical burns after accidentally or deliberately making contact with these arthropods within and near homes.
The desert millipede is often found within residential yards in large numbers following storms during monsoon season, and these millipede pests often move into homes where internal moisture levels can sustain the species. An abundance of vegetation growth alongside foundations provide moist conditions that are ideal for desert millipedes and once large number become established around a home’s foundation, preventing the millipedes from moving indoors can be difficult. Millipedes may also feed on ornamental and garden flowers, but the damage they inflict to these aesthetically appreciated plants is usually minimal, even within yards that become highly infested. This species favors cholla, creosote bush, ocotillo, and mesquite forms of decaying plant material for feeding purposes. The desert millipede often curls its 6 inch long body into a coil in response to threats. Unfortunately, this US millipede species is unique for its ability to spray a painful toxic secretion as far as ten feet within a home. If this secretion makes contact with the eyes, partial or complete blindness can result. This species toxic defensive secretion contains benzoquinones, aldehydes, hydrocyanic acid, phenols, terpenoids, nitromethylbenzene, and other substances. However, serious burns and skin discoloration resulting from skin contact with this millipede’s sections are rarely reported, and in many cases, Arizona residents keep them as pests.
Have you ever found a desert millipede specimen within your home?