Millipedes to marmots

Imagine waking up to thousands of millipedes on your living room floor, your patio, and your garage walls – every morning.

That's what some Kelowna residents are dealing with. The creepy crawlers are coming out of the grass and into homes from McKinley Landing to the Westside, leaving behind yellow stains and an awful stench.

Bug Master technician George Forgie says the issue has grown over the years, but this spring the problem is the worst he has ever seen.

“People in areas of Kelowna, Mission Hill, Wilden, McKinley Landing are inundated with millipedes, they are vacuuming up three or four thousand millipedes every morning.”

The bugs don't bite or pose any danger to humans, but they do require a lot of moisture and will die in a home in a day or two.

One woman told Castanet she has spent $13,000 over the last year to rid her home of the pests, trying everything from vacuuming up the dead bodies, to insecticides. Nothing has worked.

She says she is at her wits end and has considered selling her home.

Bug Master is taking a shot at her problem with a barrier that is implanted at the base of the home's foundation that should prevent the arthropod from entering.

Forgie says the barrier may solve about 95 per cent of the issue.

Millipedes reproduce at an alarming rate. Females typically lay between 10 and 300 eggs, which take a few weeks to hatch.

“Years ago, when I started in the pest control business, the only place we found them was the Highway 97 side of Boucharie Mountain or the north end of Clifton. Now (they're) past the north end of Clifton ... in Wilden with abundance and they are all over Mission Hill. They are becoming a nuisance,” says Forgie.

He believes their spread has to do with urban sprawl in Kelowna, as development disrupts natural habitat.

But it's not just millipedes keeping Bug Master busy. Marmots are also causing headaches in the valley.

“The more building we do, the more marmots we are relocating. They come into highly populated areas because people are growing gardens, and they eat vegetables, they eat greens,” explains Forgie. “We have gone into their territory, and now they are in ours.”

Forgie says marmots seem to be in abundance this year, causing issues around Glenmore and Gellatly in West Kelowna. One resident in West Kelowna had wires in his truck chewed through by a family of marmots and his garden ripped up this spring.

The District of West Kelowna says it hasn't received many calls about marmot problems, but it doesn't deal with pest issues.

The Regional District of Central Okanagan hasn’t received any calls regarding marmots, although it did have some traps set up to deal with them at Gellatly Nut Farm.

Both organizations recommend residents with pest or animal issues contact conservation or a pest control company.


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