What do sow bugs look like?

If you turn over a rock and see several dark-colored, armored-looking bugs crawling around, you've likely found sow bugs. Sow bugs are seed-shaped with a low profile and two hind appendages. They're commonly referred to as insects, but they are actually not insects at all. Insects have three sets of legs, while a sow bug has seven sets.

Okay. If it isn't an insect, what is it? Sow bugs are terrestrial crustaceans. A crustacean? Yes. These bugs have many similarities with common sea crustaceans such as crayfish, shrimp, and lobsters. For example, they have gills for breathing. But, you don't need to understand their connection to sea crustaceans to deal with these pests. It just helps to know that you're dealing with something that has more in common with a crayfish than a cockroach.

sow bugs

When are sow bugs most active?

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Are sow bugs and pill bugs the same?

No. While sow bugs are often called pill bugs, they are distinctly different creatures. One difference you may immediately notice is that pill bugs roll up into a ball, but sow pugs can't quite make it happen. When curled up, a sow bug forms the shape of a U. You may also notice that a sow bug has two tail-like appendages. A pill bug does not. A pill bug is also oval or pill-shaped. Sow bugs taper off on both sides and have more of a seed shape.

What do sow bugs eat?

Sow bugs are scavengers and primarily feed on decaying organic matter such as dead plant material and rotting wood. They play a beneficial role in breaking down organic debris and recycling nutrients in the ecosystem.

Are sow bugs harmful?

Sow bugs are not considered harmful to people or pets. They do not bite or sting and are not an effective vector for harmful bacteria found in dumpsters, trash, or sewers. 

What attracts sow bugs?

Sow bugs are attracted to moist or humid habitats such as landscape vegetation, leaf piles, dead branches, and logs. If your property has a lot of organic debris and moisture, you're more likely to see these bugs. You'll need to flip things over to find them since they usually hide in shaded or shielded environments and tuck themselves into tight spaces.

How do sow bugs get inside?

Sow bugs can enter homes and structures the same way other pests enter. Here are a few common pest entry points:

  • Gaps underneath exterior doors where door sweeps are missing or damaged.
  • Rips in screens on doors or windows.
  • Gaps around window and door screens.
  • Gaps around pipes or wire conduits that enter homes.
  • Cracks in foundation slabs or walls.
  • Rotted wood cavities or other types of damage to wood structures.
  • Broken windowpanes.

The good news is that sow bugs won't survive long inside your home. They aren't able to complete their life cycle indoors and they are not able to tolerate dry conditions. Unfortunately, they still manage to cause trouble; it is annoying to have to sweep or vacuum up dead bugs.

How do I get rid of sow bugs?

Contact Anti-Pest for assistance if you've found sow bugs in your home or business. Our team offers residential and commercial pest control services that eliminate and prevent pests from infesting. In fact, we've been exterminating bugs and rodents since 1950. You can count on us!

Can I prevent sow bugs from infesting? 

Yes. There are several ways you can prevent problems with these land crustaceans. You can start by building off what you've learned here on this information page.

  • Clean your gutters to reduce perimeter moisture.
  • Remove leaves, sticks, grass clipping, logs, and other organic clutter.
  • Remove junk piles near your exterior walls.
  • Apply home repairs to get rid of potential entry points.
  • Make sure all of your weatherproofing is in good working condition.
  • Use expanding foam to fill in gaps and structural cavities.

For extra protection and stress-free pest control, contact Anti-Pest. We offer ongoing pest management to reduce the number of pests around your home. Reducing exterior pests naturally deters other pests that eat them and limits the number of potential pests that may attempt to get inside your home. Along with reducing pests in your yard and landscaping, we apply a liquid application to keep pests out. These layers of protection help you keep pest-free interior spaces and reduce the need for sweeping or vacuuming dead sow bugs. 

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