Often, strange and unpleasant pests, similar to caterpillars, with numerous legs, shiny, whitish, or dark brown, quickly move, grow in flower pots and flowerpots. These are centipedes (or centipedes, millipedes). They are allocated in a separate subclass – arthropods. Unlike insects, they do not have a special wax layer on their integuments that protects the body from drying out, and at low air humidity, they quickly die.
Centipedes get into the flower pot from the ground or during the summer vacation of houseplants when they are exhibited in the garden. In the confined space of the pot, they have limited food choices, and they are forced to eat the roots and succulent parts of the plant. They can move to neighbor flowerpots.
The life cycle of centipedes is longer than that of many insects. Adults continue to molt and live up to 7 years.
Most often, drupe millipedes harm indoor plants.
Types of centipede infestation in house plant
Drupe (Lithobius forficatus). It is mobile and hygrophilous, with a well-developed sense of touch, and is active at night.
The red-headed drupe (Lithobius erythrocephalus) usually lives in the soil, which includes pine bark. Often damages orchid roots. In the wild, it feeds on insects and other small animals.
Sandy Kivsiak prefers peat soil substrates. It feeds on rotting plant residues in nature.
Spotted Snake(Blaniulus guttulatus) feeds mainly on decaying vegetation in gardens and forests.
Rarely, but still, damage indoor plants geophilus and armadillo centipede.
Long-wattled Geophilus (Geophilus longicornis) has a worm-like body, 2-4 cm in length.
Woven armadillo centipede (Glomeris soppeha) up to 1.7 cm in length, wide-body with a rigid shell. In the wild, it feeds on fallen leaves.
Bordered armadillo centipede (Glomeris marginata) up to 2 cm in length. In case of danger, it curls up into a ball and gives off a protective secret. In nature, it recycles fallen leaves.
Sometimes a flycatcher centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata) settles in the house. At dusk, it goes hunting, runs along the walls, and hunts flies and other small insects.
It tolerates dry air better than other centipedes and is more common during the day. Although in hot sundials it hides in dark corners, but not in flowerpots and does not damage plants. It feeds exclusively on cockroaches, flies, mosquitoes, moths, bedbugs, crickets, spiders, and other small insects.
In Crimea, the flycatcher is rare and is listed in the Red Book.
Want to know about are earthworms good for indoor plants.
Centipede control measures:
- Dry the soil surface in a pot. Before the next watering, the top layer of the earth should dry out.
- If the plants are undemanding to the acidity of the soil, sprinkle a little ash on the ground.
- Collect and destroy centipede pests using a trap. Place a wooden plank or a small piece of any opaque and dense material on wet soil. Centipedes will be taken under the trap, where they can be collected.
- Use the bait – pieces of root vegetables (carrots, potatoes), which are laid out on the surface of the soil.
- The pot is immersed in warm water for 2-3 hours so that the surface of the earth is completely covered with water. The pests will creep out all that remains is to collect them. Immersion in water is carried out only if the house is warm enough and the earth can then quickly dry out.
- If there are too many millipedes or there is no way to catch them, spill the soil in pots with solutions of insecticides (actellik, aktara, bazudin, zemlin, fitoverm). In this case, the working solution is prepared as for spraying. But before applying any insecticide, it is necessary to spill the soil in the flowerpot with water so that it is not dry. The treatment is repeated after 2 weeks in order to destroy the new larvae hatched from the eggs.