Recently several people asked me what these worm like black creatures were that invade our gardens and terraces in spring and early summer. They are in fact Millipedes. Before coming to the south of France I had only come across the type of Millipedes we normally find in northern Europe:
but in this area the smooth, worm like looking millipede is far more common:
The RHS plant problem section mentions the following:
Quote: "Plants affected - seedlings and other soft growth, strawberry fruits and potato tubers.
Symptoms - seedlings and soft growth are eaten; slug damage on bulbs and potato tubers is enlarged. Damage is rarely serious.
Control - cultivate the soil thoroughly and maintain good hygiene. Use inorganic rather than organic fertilizers in areas where millepedes are a problem, especially where potatoes are being grown. Millipedes, once present, are difficult to control, but HCH dust or methiocarb slug pellets may occasionally have some effect." Unquote
Centipedes are creatures we should encourage in our garden. Geoff Hamilton in his book "Successful Organic Gardening" wrote the following:
Quote: "Centipedes are a fast-moving natural predator of many small insects and slugs. They are light brown with longer legs than millipedes. Like the black beetle, centipedes need ground cover to hide under during the day. At night they will emerge in search of prey, even climbing the plants to reach it."