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Sowbugs and Pillbugs

Sowbugs and pillbugs are crustaceans more closely related to shrimp and crayfish than to insects. Other names used for these very common animals include rolypolies and isopods.

sow bugs, pillbugs


Sowbugs and pillbugs live in damp habitats where they feed on decaying vegetable matter. Outdoors, these scavengers are found under dead leaves, rocks, boards, grass clippings, flower-bed mulch and other objects on damp ground.

Sowbugs and pillbugs will enter the basement and first floor of a home through cracks and crevices in the foundation and walls. Their presence indoors is a good sign that considerable numbers are present in the soil outside. These pests are very dependent on moisture, and unless there is an unusual moisture problem, these organisms do not survive indoors for longer than a few days.

Sowbugs are light gray to slate-colored, with slightly elongated bodies that can reach 1/2 inch in length. The body is distinctly segmented. Sowbugs have seven pairs of legs, two pairs of antennae and two prominent tail-like appendages.

Female sowbugs retain eggs in a brood pouch for three to four weeks until they hatch. After hatching, the young remain in the pouch for up to a month. These newly hatched sowbugs resemble the adults except in size. Each female can produce broods of 25 to 75 young several times a year. They are nocturnal in habit, due to their susceptibility to desiccation.

sow bugs, pillbugs


Pillbugs are dark gray to black, and are not as flat as sowbugs (Figure 2a). The body is distinctly segmented with seven pairs of legs and two pairs of antennae. The abdomen has no tail-like appendages. Unlike sowbugs, pillbugs can roll into a tight ball when disturbed.

This response makes them easy to distinguish from sowbugs and has earned them the nickname “roly-poly.” The reproductive biology of pillbugs and sowbugs is similar. The eggs are deposited and hatch within a brood pouch, where they stay for up to 45 days before emerging.

Pillbugs are nocturnal and remain inactive and hidden under objects during the day to reduce water loss. Avoiding water loss is important for them because they lack an outer waxy layer and cannot close their respiratory system. This leads to dehydration at low humidities.

sow bugs, pillbugs

Sowbugs and pillbugs Damage

Damage:Sowbugs and pillbugs feed primarily on decaying plant material and are very important in the process of decomposing organic matter in the garden. However, they occasionally feed on seedlings, new roots, lower leaves, and fruits or vegetables lying directly on the soil or near a damp soil surface.

Prevention your home :Check the basement, foundation, and first-floor entrances for cracks and crevices and use caulking or other filling materials to minimize the number of entry points around doors, basement windows and other openings. In addition, reduce water seepage and ventilation problems so that damp hiding places are eliminated.

If you ever have any bug related issues in New York City, feel free to call us either at Beyond Pest Control. Once again, and I can’t stress this enough we are on call twenty four hours a day seven days a week to kill those bugs, we aren’t kidding whether you call us at 9 am or midnight we will be available to take your call and either get rid of the bug infestation, or answer any questions you may have concerning the bug issue. I can honestly guarantee that there will be someone to answer that call. We make it our business to make you bug free!

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