Millipedes make annual march into Uitenhage homes

A community in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape is battling a multitude of millipedes. The creepy crawly invasion in their homes is nothing new, though. It’s been going on annually for the past five years. eNCA's Nceba Ntlanganiso shares more details. Courtesy #DStv403

UITENHAGE - A community in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape is battling a multitude of millipedes.  

The creepy crawly invasion in their homes has been an annual event for the past five years.

Heike Pienaar, who owns a pre-school, is worried.

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Pienaar said, "this year, the millipedes have been absolutely terrible. They come into our premises, they are on to each other like cakes. They inside the ceilings, inside of the cupboards, basically everywhere you look, they are. Obviously, it's a very big safety concern for our children..." 

A local farmer says his cattle are getting sick from eating the invertebrates.

Koko Selani said, "...when my cattle are grazing the land, they end up eating these millipedes, as they are so many here. Later in the day, when I collect the cattle to go to the kraal, I notice that they have diarrhoea. I'm really worried as I don't know what implications this has..." 

A local doctor says millipedes can cause some adverse effects in people too. 

Dr Andre Oosthuizen said,"when someone touches the millipede they might have some burning sensation on their hands. Also they might get blistering as well on the hands. Some part of the population might experience allergic reactions through touching them. They can get rash all over their body and redness of the skin the whole body. Also, some part of the population might even experience some respiratory symptoms as well due to allergy..." 

Dr Oosthuizen said people should not touch the millipedes but if there is accidental contact, they should wash their hands immediately.  

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Professor Graham Kerley, a professor of zoology, explained that millipedes are more active in summer, especially after the rain.

They usually emerge in great numbers close to thick vegetation.

They come out to feed and to mate and are not harmful to human beings.  

"The millipede actually feed on dead plant material. They add a lot of value because they help us to decompose breakdown plant materials, which would otherwise just stand there. So they are not coming into the homes to look for food. However, they do try and find cooler and humid areas, when it gets hot and dry."

Professor Kerley says if you encounter millipedes in your home - don't kill them, just sweep them out gently.  


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