These arthropods are also called sow bugs, wood louses and roly polies, and live on the ground in moist places. This guide is about getting rid of pill bugs.
In our garden, we have a huge infestation of pill bugs. In fact, it is so bad that if you stick a small shovel in and pull out a little bit of dirt, you uncover about 20 ants, 40 -50 pillbugs, and 1 or 2 worms. I know the worms are good, but I'm worried about the pill bugs. Does anyone have a cure? Oh, I've heard about how you could grind the pill bug bodies and mix with water to make an insecticide, is that true?
Pill bugs (or roly poly's as I have always called them) feed primarily on decaying matter. I have observed them in my garden for long periods of time, and done a little research, just to figure out what they are doing (I obviously have no life (but am afterall, a geeky scientist)). In my garden, they are certainly prolific, but appear to chow down on the remnants of my compost pile that hadn't completely broken down. These observations have put my mind at rest, and confirmed that these crustaceans are actually beneficial to the health of my garden. However, I might also point out that my small garden consists only of peppers, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce--that is to say, they may have an appetite for other plant varieties and thus could potentially wipe out a garden of other plant species (although I think this is rare and unlikely). Most crustaceans in this world (be them terrestrial or aquatic) are primarily scavengers--they are the "garbage men" of the microcosmic insect world. They eat fungus, molds, and other dead things and play a beneficial role in the cycle of nutrients. If you have vegetative plants that are dying, it is likely the cause of some other perpetrator--likely one that you cannot see with the bare eye. Roly-poly's in your garden, in my opinion, are a sign of a healthy nutrient exchange. Look in to other likely pests such as aphids, parasites, or even vegetative diseases.
These little buggers may eat live plants on a small scale -- but my whole garden is small scale. I plant one tomato plant, and last year I had to collar my third attempt with a plastic cup to keep the isopods from munching its juicy little stem. Of course, it got such a late start by then that it only produced flowers before frost, no fruit.
I will try the yogurt container trap. I did have a little luck sprinkling corn meal in the garden with it killing both isopods and millipedes, but it only worked once. Once my plants are established, I don't think they'll cause much trouble. Its just a matter of keeping the population low in the spring and early summer.
Don't let these little critters fool you. I planted $150 in pansies a few weeks ago and they are totally gone now. Stems, leaves, flowers etc. There is absolutely no trace that plants were ever there. They devoured everything! And they were the healthiest pansies I've ever bought. By the time I figured out what was going on, the plants were too devastated to save. They are voracious little tikes and if you plant annuals and pay good money, you had better buy some diatomacious earth or something to get rid of the pill bug population if you have one. I will the next time I plant in a few weeks, that's for sure. I live in the Dallas - Ft. Worth area
Sow bugs and pill bugs have infested my garden really bad. After a couple of days of rain I went into my garden today, picked up the battered leaves of my lady fern and shook it to get the rain off. There must have been at least 50 or 70 pill bugs of all sizes that fell off the leaves! They were just munching away! They eat everything, not just the dead plants and leaves. I have even found them eating leaves in a bush about five and a half feet off the ground. I have a watering system which gives my plants the water they need and the sow bugs and pill bugs thrive in my flower beds because they have the water they need.
I have tried almost everything to get rid of them. I go out on killing missions wearing gloves and mashing every bug I catch, I sprinkle salt, I have even resorted to putting out a ground insect killing compound(much to my dislike). Nothing has worked. There are so many of them that they can reproduce faster than I can kill! I would appreciate any suggestions and will use all of them. I am desperate. Oh, by the way,Anne H., you are wrong. I put out a mulch. They hide under it and come out when it is dark to eat my salvias, zinnias, ferns, anything they is not moving too fast to get away from them. They even come in the house clinging to my cat's fur after he has taken a nap in my fatsia bushes (which they eat too).
How do I get rid of Pill bugs in my house?
Can you just collect them by hand and put them out behind the garage?
Pesticides are poison and should only be used as the very last resort. Try googling "pill bug" (with quotes) and "natural control" and see what you get.
We live in Missouri and found that hiding "hedge apples" around in the house gets rid of pill bugs & keeps them away.