How to Get Rid of Pill Bugs: Detailed Roly Poly Control & Prevention Guide

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There are multiple tips on how to get rid of pill bugs on the Internet. However, some of them are rather chaotic and incomplete. If you are looking at how to get rid of pill bugs in house, you already have them at home.

I will give you hints on preventive measures later, but at this moment, you have to act immediately to clean your yard and house. These pests do not cause any harm to human beings except for consuming all the harvest you may rely on. And while they are helpful to our ecosystem in general, not all farmers and gardeners want to see the pests near their land.

Brief Guidance on Pill Bugs

PILL-BUGS-FORAGING

Before we learn how to kill rolly pollies, which is another name for these pests, let’s find out vital information about them that may help us. They can easily destroy the crops or the garden. These pests are tiny but extremely dangerous for your plants.

What are pill bugs

Pill bugs or rolly pollies belong to the Armadillium Vulgare family. They can roll into a tiny ball whenever they feel the threat. These pests are part of the woodlice group. They are not native to the USA; however, these insects are easily accustomed to American soil and spread around it. Their main specifics:

  • Dark brown or black color;
  • ¾ inches length of their bodies;
  • They have 7 pairs of legs;
  • Their heads have antennae on them;
  • The shape of the body is rather oval, not round. However, they can roll up in a perfect circle;
  • They dwell in every state.

Lifecycle

The insects mate most actively in spring and are less active during the whole year. You may find pill bugs infestation in your yard any season. After mating, the female keeps the eggs in a pouch filled with fluid, similar to an incubator that is located under her body. It takes from 3 to 7 weeks.

The nymphs hatch from eggs after that time. They look the same as adult species, except for the smaller lengths. After they are born, they keep dwelling in the mother’s pouch for 2 more months. During the year, they molt their exoskeleton several times and reach maturity. Every month they still molt, even as adults.

Female species, on average, produce up to 40 eggs. The normal length of pill bugs’ life is 3 years. Each year up to two generations are born. However, the quantity of new bugs that appear depends on the conditions where they live, and especially the temperature. The colder the weather, the rarer rolly pollies mate.

Sowbugs vs pill bugs

These insects are almost similar in their look, and sometimes they are mistaken for each other. However, it is worth finding out whether you have rollie pollie infestation or sowbugs before taking any measures.
Similarities of pillbugs and sowbugs:

  • The same length of bodies;
  • Similar color palette from dark brown or gray to the black;
  • Shell-like exoskeleton;
  • Seven pairs of legs;
  • The oval shape of bodies.

The difference:

  • Sowbugs have a pair of appendages from the rear of their bodies that look like tails. Pill bugs do not have that;
  • Rolly pollies can roll up in a ball, while sowbugs can’t do this.

saw bugs vs pill bugs comparison

What attracts pill bugs

While sowbugs do not bite humans, do not feed on their blood like their relatives, the lice, they still are dangerous neighbors. They are herbivorous by their nature, so you can say goodbye to your crops when pill bugs appear. Things that attract rolly pollies to your household:

  • Pill bugs are attracted to decaying organics, like dead plants or leaves;
  • Over moisturized ground is a heaven on earth for these pests;
  • Wood fibers are another source of the food for sowbugs;
  • If there are no decomposing leaves, these pests can feed on living plants, leaves, roots, stems, fruits, especially if they were watered;
  • They feed on beans, peas, corn, potato, lettuce, cucumber, beet, melon, spinach, strawberry;
  • It happens extremely rare, but some of the pill bugs species may feed on the decaying flesh of animals or their feces;
  • If there is nothing more left, these pests will eat bugs that are already dead and shed snakes` skin.

Pill bugs damage

These pests do not bite humans, so you can relax for a while if you worry about it. They do not bite other animals unless they are dead and decomposed, but it is also rare. Besides, pill bugs have this unique feature that makes them amazing decomposers.

They consume heavy metals like cadmium, zinc, copper, and crystallize them out, keeping in their bodies. They remove numerous ions of toxic metals from the land. These metals’ ions will be back again after the death of pill bugs.

This is why many gardeners believe that they can peacefully coexist with the pests as long as they can keep pill bugs out of house. However, rolly pollies are dangerous because they feed on the plants, and if you relied on the harvest heavily, you might get extremely disappointed. These tiny creatures can easily get rid of the plants you grow so hard, down to the roots and leaves.

Signs of pill bug infestation

pill bug infestation

Pillbugs rarely dwell in the house, as there is not enough moisture for them. Unless you notice pill bugs in basement of the house with high humidity. What to look for indoors?
So, the ways of indoors infestation:

  • Cracks in walls that are unsealed;
  • Glass doors and any open doors in general;
  • High humidity level;
  • Lots of garbage in your house and decomposing plants;
  • Open windows.

Outdoors:

  • Trees;
  • Decomposing plants;
  • Lots of moisture. They love to dwell in areas with heavy rains.

Main signs that your house has been invaded:

  • You notice tiny creatures crawling around frequently;
  • When you turn the pile of leaves, you notice pill bugs;
  • You notice pill bugs near the stale water;
  • Your crop is visibly damaged and eaten.

How to get rid of pill bugs

I have combined all the options for you here. I strongly advise you to do everything from the list. The tips may not only help you to trap or exterminate bugs but to prevent them in the future.

Product
Best Pill Bug Killer for Garden
Monterey LG6575 Sluggo Plus...
Best Pill Bug Trap
Trapper Insect Trap (Great for...
Bonide (BND60360) - Insect and...
Prime
Pros
organic components.
Savvy offer of 90 traps.
Stays active for 3 months.
Best Pill Bug Killer for Garden
Product
Monterey LG6575 Sluggo Plus...
Price
Prime
Pros
organic components.
My preview
Best Pill Bug Trap
Product
Trapper Insect Trap (Great for...
Price
Prime
Pros
Savvy offer of 90 traps.
My preview
Product
Bonide (BND60360) - Insect and...
Price
Prime
Pros
Stays active for 3 months.
My preview

Dry up the moisture

Dry all the extra moisture from your land. If you want to get rid of pill bugs naturally, you have to make it impossible for bugs to live there.

Gather all the leaves

leaves

Remove the leaves from the ground. Do not leave them a place to hide. If you have mulch near the plants, make sure it is not deeper than 2 inches. Remove all the mulch from the foundation of your house; there must be a 12 inches distance between the mulch and your house.

Use traps and killers

You have to use specific products to get rid of the bugs. While taking preventive measures and cutting these pests access to your yard and home is important, you have to use active ingredients. I have described them in the list of my top favorites below.

Remove the wood from the ground

Keep the firewood up on the ground. And if you can’t do it, at least move it far from the house. Pill bugs love to dwell in a wood, especially the one that is moisturized by rain and is placed in the shadowy area. If your trees have numerous dry branches that may fall down, you have to trim them.

Ventilation

Ventilation

This is the step you have to take to secure your house. Pill bugs can crawl indoors as easy as outdoors. They don’t usually live indoors for too long unless the place is damp. This is why the most targeted area is your basement. Make sure it is ventilated and not damp.

If you can’t fix the situation naturally, by opening windows, you can use a dehumidifier. If you have a wooden attic, you may want to put a dehumidifier there as well. Pill bugs can choose it as the most peaceful habitat while you never suspect that they live above you. Always use a vacuum cleaner for all the possible hiding places of these insects.

Top 3 Best Pill Bugs Treatment

Here are my three favorite killers of pill bugs. I’ve specifically chosen universal products, so you may also get rid of other pests in your household. These treatments were checked by me in my own yard and home, and I found them extremely helpful. However, if you have another opinion about them, you may express your thoughts in the comments below.

1. Trapper Insect Trap – Perfect Way of How to Catch Pill Bugs

There are 90 traps in one pack. This product is universal and kills spiders, cockroaches, and bed bugs as effectively as pill bugs. I recommend you to use it strictly indoors as it will not withstand rain or wind. The trap is lightweight, so it can be easily blown away. There is glue inside that prevents all the small crawling pests from getting out once they are caught.

This product was created by Bell Laboratories, developers from the USA. They offer certified products that help to get rid of insects and other pests. This trap not only captures but also monitors pill bugs. Put this trap on the floor, and you will find out the location of rolly pollies’ dwelling.

Pros:Cons:
  • Savvy offer of 90 traps;
  • Easy to install;
  • Effective against various pests;
  • Great for indoors;
  • Price is lower than for many similar products.
  • You have to keep it indoors.

2. Bonide Insect and Grub Control – Effective Granules to Control Pill Bugs

This insect control kills pill bugs, fleas, ants, mole crickets, ticks, chinch bugs, and grubs. It is highly effective, and results are visible after the first 24 hours. It is not recommended for indoor use, but you can apply it near the house foundation. The formula stays active during the next 3 months. It contains Imidacloprid and Lambda-Cyhalothrin.

Bonide develops insecticides for many years. They offer top-selling products for the US gardens. This treatment kills bugs inside and outside the ground. However, I strongly advise you to keep it far from children and pets, at least the first day.

Pros:Cons:
  • Highly effective formula;
  • Savvy offer;
  • Affordable price;
  • Kills multiple insects;
  • Stays active for 3 months.
  • You have to keep this product far from children and pets.

3. Monterey Sluggo Plus – Organic Family-Friendly Pill Bug Control in Garden

The pack of this killer is comfortable to hold and savvy, as it contains 1lb. It is universal and kills not only pill bugs, but sowbugs, snails, slugs, cutworms, and earwigs. So if you also have a problem with separating sowbugs from pill bugs, this is your tool. It is the perfect bait for them and also a deadly poison. Iron phosphate in its formula is organic and non-toxic.

Sluggo Plus was created by Monterey, a famous producer of top insecticides for the garden. It is made in granular shape, so it is easy to spread. Don’t worry; its organic formula will become a great fertilizer after decomposing.

Pros:Cons:
  • Organic components;
  • Universal killer of multiple pests;
  • Easy to apply;
  • Effective even after rain;
  • Affordable price.
  • While 1 pack is more than enough for the average infestation, you may need more in severe cases.

How to prevent pill bugs

Almost all the measures I have described above work as preventive ones. If you want to avoid bugs at your house, you can use the organic pill bug control that was described. Do not hesitate to use these measures even if you don’t have pill bugs yet, but you live in the area of heavy rains or moisture.

And remember, if your neighbors complain about the bugs, you will have them in no time. So, to prevent the infestation, follow these simple rules:

  • Always clean your house and your yard

Leaves in your garden that are decomposing every day may not be a big deal for you, but a source of food for pill bugs. The same goes for the wood, fallen branches, and even fruits from the trees. Cleaning your basement, attic, all the rooms may help you to identify and quickly get rid of the problem as well;

  • Don’t leave cracks in the walls in your house, as the bugs may easily dwell there

It is not only the pill bugs that can comfortably live inside the cracks. Since these tiny creatures are a source of food for other pests like centipedes or spiders, you may expect more species to come;

  • Use a dehumidifier if you feel that the air in your house is damp

Don’t hesitate to turn it on, since it may prevent the mold appearance at your home as well. If you are not sure whether you have high humidity, there are simple gadgets that measure it apart from the temperature;

  • Clean all the gutters in your yard, so there is no place for the insects to hide

Make sure that the gutters are higher than the ground. Don’t leave anything that creates shadow and moisture on the land;

  • Get rid of extra moisture in your yard, so pests will not have access to the water

They will quickly go away or die from dehydration. If you grow a lot of plants, and you can’t cut down the watering, at least make sure that only plants get this water. Put it under each root and stop the process once the plants are hydrated. This way, you will save the water you consume and prevent the whole ground from getting damp.

Popular Questions About Pill Bugs

Armadillidium_vulgare

Here are the most widely asked questions about these pests. I hope my answers will be useful to you. Read them before you order pill bugs killers.

Do pill bugs eat plants?

Pill bugs prefer to eat plants that are decomposing. However, if they can’t find them on the ground, they will feed on the roots and even leaves of live plants. Pill bugs can eat fruits, as well. Some of the species feed on corn and peas.

Are pill bugs poisonous?

No, pill bugs are not poisonous. You can touch them if you want. However, I do not recommend you to touch them with bare hands, mainly because it is unsanitary and useless. There are too many pests living together, so it is better to use specific professional killers on them.

How can pill bugs be useful for my garden?

Pill bugs consume toxic metals that are contained in the soil. They eat them and keep inside their bodies. Only after they died, these elements go back to the soil again.

How long do pill bugs live?

On average, Armadillidium Vulgare species live up to 3 years. However, it depends on the quality of their life. They are the most vulnerable while they are nymphs, several weeks after they are born.

Which Pill Bugs Killer Is the Best?

I believe that all the products I have recommended must be used in case you have pill bugs infestation at your house. Order Trapper insect trap is effective for indoor use, Insect, and Grub Control by Bonide — for outdoors or in case of severe infestation, and Sluggo Plus by Monterey if you need organic family-friendly remedy.

You can combine three of them to get rid of pill bugs for good. I have used all three of them in my yard and still use the trap in my house. They are all universal and kill numerous small pests. If you have used at least one of them, please share your impressions in the comments below. How do you like them?

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Nicholas Martin

About Nicholas Martin

I am Nicholas Martin, and I am an entomologist. I combine the insect survey work with the consultation for private pest control agencies. My narrow specializations are both urban pests and agricultural pests. I studied their control over the previous 25 years.

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