What do pill bugs look like?

Pillbugs, also known as roly-polies, are gray to brown, have an armored appearance, and are oval or pill-shaped. They're typically between ¼ and ⅝ of an inch in length, but some adult pillbugs are longer than this. You can easily identify a pillbug by its defensive response. When threatened, it curls up into a ball. Underneath its armored exoskeleton, you'll find seven pairs of legs. Each pair of legs is attached to a body segment.

pill bug

When are pill bugs most active?

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Are pill bugs different than sow bugs?

Yes. While both are land crustaceans with an armored appearance, they have many differences. One of the first you'll notice is the shape. Pill bugs have that pill shape that led to their name. Sow bugs have more of a seed shape. Pill bugs curl into a ball, but sow bugs can't make this happen. The best they can do is a horseshoe shape. Sow bugs have two tail-like appendages. Pill bugs do not. 

What do pill bugs eat? 

Pill bugs feed on decaying things, such as dead insects, arachnids, worms, plants, grass, and leaves. They are beneficial bugs because they crawl around cleaning things up. They consume decaying animals and plants and excrete fertilizer. 

Are pill bugs harmful? 

There are many ways bugs are considered harmful. They may bite or sting, inject venom, spread harmful bacteria, or transmit diseases. How do pill bugs measure up? We're happy to say that they don't do any of these things.  

Do pill bugs cause damage? 

In some cases, pill bugs can cause damage to plant roots while feeding, but a large number of pill bugs is needed for them to become a problem. They are generally considered to be minor pests, and only become a real nuisance when they accidentally enter buildings.

Where do pill bugs like to hide?

As terrestrial crustaceans, pill bugs have gills. These gills are on the underside, opposite the head. In order to breathe, these gills require moisture. Therefore, you'll find pill bugs in damp locations.

Along with moisture, pill bugs want to live where food is found. Since they eat dead animals and plants, you'll find them where their food sources are plentiful.

Considering pill bugs' requirements, it makes sense to look for them underneath rocks, leaf litter, logs, and other organic debris. Check landscaping and gardens first, as you are likely to water these areas and create the damp conditions pill bugs desire.

How do I get rid of pill bugs?

If you need assistance with pill bug control, contact Anti-Pest. Our local pest control team provides residential and commercial pest control services to address pill bugs and other pests and to prevent infestations throughout the year.

How can I prevent a pill bug infestation? 

You can deter pill bugs by altering conditions that attract them. Here are a few to consider first:

  • Keep lights off at night to reduce the number of insects because dead insects are food for pill bugs.
  • Trim bushes, plants, and other landscape vegetation. Cut grass and remove weeds. Water your plants in the early morning. All of these steps will reduce moisture.
  • Clear out your gutters to allow rainwater to channel away from your exterior.
  • Damp ground, particularly on the shaded side of a home, can attract pill bugs.
  • Blow leaves out from underneath structures and out from between plants.

Along with reducing attractants, you'll need to consider sealing potential entry points. These bugs get into homes when they find available routes.

  • Seal cracks in foundation slabs or walls.
  • Replace damaged weatherstripping or sweeps on exterior doors.
  • Repair ripped screens and gaps around screen frames.
  • Repair rotted wood and fill in wood cavities with expanding foam.
  • Seal gaps around window and door frames, particularly where they are low to the ground.

When pill bugs get inside, they don't live long. Dry interior conditions cause them to die. The greatest issue with these bugs is clean-up. Ongoing pest control around your home can reduce the attractants that bring pill bugs onto your property and provide your exterior with the protection you need to keep pests from getting in. Year-round pest control keeps a long list of pests out, including pill bugs.

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