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Millipedes, lawn weeds and announcements     Send a link to a friend

By John Fulton

[APRIL 10, 2006]  The most often asked about pest this past week has been the millipede. As a matter of fact, most callers have been almost beside themselves due to large numbers invading homes. Millipedes are hard-shelled animals that are wormlike with many segments. They also curl up when disturbed. Most body segments have two pairs of legs, except for the three legs behind the head. Adults are 1 to 2 inches long and can be brown, tan or gray.

Most millipedes are scavengers. They feed on decaying organic matter such as leaves, compost and grass clippings. They may sometimes injure small, young plants by feeding on the roots and tender plant parts, but this is rather rare.

When they enter the home in large numbers, they can become quite a nuisance. They do not bite, feed on clothing or cause any real damage. They are simply a nuisance. Control of millipedes in the house is best accomplished by running the vacuum cleaner.

Most insecticides are not very effective against millipedes. The best way to prevent them from entering the home is to remove and discard accumulations of leaves, rocks, boards and other trash from around the foundation of the house. Also, keep shrubbery and flower beds free of leaf mulch during the warm months.

Foundation sprays of permethrin or bifenthrin may have some effectiveness, but they may not provide satisfactory control. To apply these chemicals, spray the foundation of the house and the adjacent foot of soil. In severe cases, you may need to expand the soil treatment area -- and maybe spray the entire yard.

Lawn weeds

Overtaking the lowly millipede, the most-often-asked question overall this past week has been, "What is this weed, and how do I control it?" Of course, if you looked at last week's column, you probably have the answer already.

This time of year we will actually have several groups of broadleaf weeds in the lawn. We will have winter annuals until the "hot" weather sets in, the perennial weeds, and the annual weeds are just starting. The type of weed that you have will dictate the timing and the material you need to use to control them.

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Most of the broadleaf weed killers that we use in turf are selective. Unfortunately, they can't distinguish between lawn weeds and flowers or shrubs. The three most common products are 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba. All of these are selective. The most common nonselective product is glyphosate, which is Roundup or Kleenup, and this should not be sprayed on any large areas of turf since it kills grass as well as broadleaf weeds.

The most common weeds coming into the office now are chickweed and henbit. For chickweed, you will have to use at least a 2,4-D and MCPP combination, such as is found in most weed and feed products. Henbit is best controlled by a three-way combination of 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba.

Straight 2,4-D works just fine for some of the most common lawn weeds that are just starting to appear. These would include dandelions and plantain. Some of the hardest to control include violets and ground ivy. This hard-to-control group will probably require some determination and repeated applications of the three-way mix on your part, and the addition of the chemical triclopyr really helps pick up the control of violets.


Many have been asking about this year's Master Gardener plant sale. It is set for April 29 from 9 a.m. to noon (or sellout) in the Exhibition Building at the fairgrounds. Featured will be rhubarb and several varieties of hosta.

The Logan County Extension office has redone the local website. Check it out at You can find events, fact sheets, links and contacts for your area of interest.

[John Fulton, unit leader, University of Illinois Extension, Logan County Unit]

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