MILLEPEDE or BLACK WIREWORM

These creatures are destructive to the roots of many plants, bulbs, corms, tubers and germinating seeds. Eggs are laid in early summer in the soil, the young millepedes reaching maturity when about 2 years old. Their movements are sluggish and when disturbed they coil up like a watchspring. Millepedes are often confused with centipedes which are beneficial insects preying on soil pests. Centipedes are bigger, yellow in colour, run off when disturbed and have one pair of legs on each body segment — millepedes have two pairs of legs. Millepedes are most abundant on damp, badly-drained land — on light, sandy soils they are seldom really troublesome. Regular cultivation of the soil, especially near the surface, is a partial deterrent, as these pests dislike soil movement. Burying hollowed-out turnips, potato tubers, etc., just below the surface and lifting every three or four days to collect and destroy the millepedes, helps to keep down their numbers.

Naphthalene can be worked into the top 4 in. of soil but has no lasting effect. Organic insecticide or aldrin dusts, applied in the same way, are more successful. Heavy dressings of lime in winter are also helpful.

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