Common Pillbug and Sowbug

(Armadillidium vulgare) & (Oniscus spp.)

Introduction: Pillbugs and sowbugs are actually not insects at all, but rather crustaceans that have become completely adapted to spending their whole life on land. The pillbug, known commonly as Roly-Polies, and the sowbug are never more than 3/4” in length and their bodies are oval with a hollow underside. Their head and abdomen are small, but the thorax is comparatively large, composed of seven hard overlapping plates, giving them an armored appearance. The sowbug can be separated from the pillbug by the fact they cannot roll up into a tight ball like the pillbug. Furthermore, the sowbug has two prominent tail-like appendages which the pillbug does not possess.

Habits: Pillbugs and sowbugs like moist conditions and are typically found under objects on the damp ground, as well as under vegetative debris of all kinds. They normally feed on decaying vegetative matter and are worldwide in distribution. Pillbugs and sowbugs will occasionally invade damp basement areas as well as the first floors of homes during times of drought or excessive moisture. When this occurs, they are almost always present in considerable numbers in the soil and under landscaping areas (gardens, potted plants, mulch, etc.) immediately outside of the home.

Control: Removing harborage, such as leaves, grass clippings, mulch, boards and stones, from near the home will aid in preventing infestations. Also, properly ventilate basements and crawlspaces to eliminate excess moisture and cracks and crevices should be sealed to prevent these invaders from gaining access to the structure. Lastly, a professional perimeter treatment around the home is the best method to reduce pillbug and sowbug populations. Cook’s Pest Control offers professional treatment for the control of occasional invaders and our pest management professionals are thoroughly trained to address your pest problems in your home or business.

About Occasional Invaders

These pests invade your home or place of business infrequently and their intrusion is typically due to a change of weather. They usually wind up indoors while seeking shelter or just happen to wander inside through open doors.