Roly Poly / Pillbug Control - How to Get Rid of Potato Bugs

Pill bugs, also known as roly poly bugs, woodlouse, or potato bugs, are small insects that curl when touched. They pose no threat to people but can invade gardens in large numbers and are seen as crop pests. Control large infestations of pill bugs with professional grade products like insecticide granules, dusts, and sprays. 

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How to Get Rid of Pill Bugs

Pill bugs will enter homes when there is damp, dark areas and decaying plant matter near the home’s foundation. They do not cause damage indoors and can be simply vacuumed or swept up. To reduce the chances of this happening and to keep populations at a low level there are three levels of control measures to take:

  • Habitat modification: Make sure you weed often and clear excess leaves and dead plants. Piles of leaves in your yard are perfect habitats for these pests so make sure you get rid of these leaves as soon as you can. Keep a one or two foot space clear around the foundation of your home. Eliminate dense vegetation and any debris. Mulch near the home can harbor moisture and create a habitat for many pests, including pill bugs.
  • Moisture control: Do not overwater your garden. Water during the day so water sitting in the soil has time to dry. 
  • Exclusion: sealing all cracks and gaps near your foundation will not only help to keep pill bugs out, but will prevent all insects from invading your home. Use caulk, foam, or fine mesh, and make sure you focus on all chord and pipe access points. 

Pill Bug Identification

Pill bugs are actually soft-shelled crustaceans called isopods, more closely related to shrimp and lobsters than insects. Since they are crustaceans, they need to be in moist, dark environments. They are about 3/8th of an inch long, wingless and have seven pairs of legs. They roll into a ball when threatened or scared, which is where they get their nickname.  Pill bugs are usually found in the cracks in the dirt and under plant residue. They are active in the late spring, and usually at night. They are often lumped together with sow bugs or potato bugs, and while they are very similar, they are not exactly the same. 

Pill Bug Food Sources

You will often find these tiny crustaceans in areas with large amounts of decaying plant matter. They feed on any decaying organic matter, which is why large populations can often be found in compost piles and piles of leaf litter. Since they would rather feed on decaying matter, they will usually ignore healthy plants. However, when populations get high, they will feed on new growth and young plants. 

 

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