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Pill Bug

pillbugSowbugs and pillbugs, sometimes called “rolly polly’s,” live outdoors, but they may occasionally enter homes in damp areas such as basements, first floor levels and garages.

Sowbugs are oval or slightly elongate with a flattened body and up to 3/4 inch long. They are wingless, brownish or slate gray, and possess well-developed eyes, seven pairs of legs and overlapping “armored” plates that make them look like little armadillos. SoPillbugwbugs have two tail-like structures on the rear end.

Pillbugs are similar, except they lack the tail-like appendages and can roll up into a tight ball, hence the nick name, “rolly polly”.  Both are slow-moving crustaceans closely related to crayfish, shrimps and lobsters but not insects.

These creatures are a nuisance by their presence; they do not bite humans nor damage structures or household possessions. However, if present in large numbers, they can feed on young plants in greenhouses. Some may crawl into swimming pools and drown, causing complaints. Those that wander into homes usually die in a few days unless they find a moist place near a leaky pipe or in a damp basement, bathroom or laundry room.

These creatures live outdoors, feeding on decaying organic matter and occasionally young plants and their roots. They may become pests in and around homes where flower bed mulches, grass clippings, leaf litter, rotting boards, trash, rocks and pet droppings are present. Adequate moisture is essential for their survival, and they group in masses to reduce water loss. On a hot day, they remain under objects on the damp ground and are active only at night due to lower temperatures and more humid conditions. They become inactive during the winter months except in heated buildings such as greenhouses.


Treat the outside with a residual liquid such as Demand, Tempo or Suspend.   You can treat all the potential entry points into the house such as windows, doors, vents, fireplaces, plumbing, etc. Spraying the harborage areas such as under mulch, black plastic, holes or cracks in cinder block walls, retainer walls or hollow trees will also help.  For added control, apply a pesticide granual such as Talstar.

Insecticide Concentrates

– These concentrates are mixed with water and used in a compressed hand held sprayer to make your application.

Insecticide Granules

These “ready to use” granular crystals are convenient and great for a contact kill and have a great residual properties for the exterior. They fall down into and under landscape material such as turf, rock or mulch to target problem pests.

Additional Tips for Control

Remove hiding places such as piles of leaves, grass clippings, mulch in flower beds, fallen fruit, pet droppings, boxes, boards, stones and other debris from the foundation walls, doors, basement windows and other points of entry. Properly ventilate basements and subfloor crawl spaces to eliminate excess moisture. Repair and seal cracks and openings in the foundation wall, around doors, and around basement windows with caulking compound and weather stripping. Drain standing water and moist areas near potential points of entry.

Indoors, the use of fans and dehumidifiers will help dry out the basement and other damp rooms. These creatures can be collected with a broom and dustpan, vacuum cleaner or other mechanical means and discarded.