Looking at a Millipede's Diet

Millipedes can be an occasional pest, gathering around windowpanes and in basements, especially in the spring and fall. They can be a concern for homeowners in large numbers, but they cannot sting or bite you. What they do bite is already dead, as millipedes are scavengers searching out decaying sources of sustenance.

What do millipedes eat?

Millipedes are omnivores and seek out both plant and animal-based sources of food. They prefer to eat mostly dead and decaying plant-based matter, but they sometimes can be found snacking away on live roots or decomposing animals when those are the only option.

What is the main source of food in the millipede diet?

Since millipedes spend the majority of their life in moist areas—under rocks and woodpiles, in flower beds or in the deep thatch of lawns—millipedes’ primary source of food is decaying plants, leaves, buds and flowers.1

To avoid these risks, do not pick up a millipede with your bare hands. After you handle a millipede, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water until any odor or residue is gone.

Do millipedes eat other bugs?

Yes. Millipedes will sometimes search out and eat earthworms, snails and other insects.

Do millipedes eat anything humans eat?

Maybe. They do eat fungi that is on plant matter, but we’re not talking about portobello mushrooms.2

Does the millipede diet change through their lifecycle?

No. Although millipedes can live up to 10 years, they eat the same type of food throughout.

Is there a name for something whose diet is decaying food?

Yes. Millipedes are detritivores, the name for something that feeds on plants and animals that have died. This makes the millipede very important to the environment, because they recycle nutrients back into the soil at a much faster rate than the plants and animals decomposing naturally. 3