Many of us played with them as kids, but many don’t actually know their name, or the facts about them, so we’ve assembled some of their basic info below. We called them roly poly or pill bugs. Are they just harmless insects or are they pests that need treated to keep them from our house?
ABOUT PILL BUGS
- Their shells look like armor and they are known for their ability to roll into a ball. Hence this is where they get the nickname of “Roly Poly”.
- Their scientific name is Armadillidium vulgare, which is appropriate, because their armored bodies resemble those of an armadillo.
- The pill bug is an isopod, a non-insect arthropod. Known as a terrestrial crustacean, and is the only crustacean that can spend its entire life on land.
- Sometimes, pill bugs are mistaken for a sowbug. A pill bug can roll itself into a ball, and a sowbug cannot.
- Their body is made up of seven segments and an abdomen.
- Pill bugs, when adult are colored brown, gray or black.
ABOUT THEIR HABITAT
- Pill bugs live in dark, wet locations.
- Even though they are nocturnal, they can be found during the day in soil or under debris. They are most commonly found under mulch, rocks and fallen leaves.
- Most prefer soil with a neutral to alkaline pH level, and are less likely to inhabit soil that is acidic, too wet, or that has been tilled.
WHAT THEY EAT
- The diet of pill bugs consists mostly of decaying or decomposed plant matter, such as leaves. They will sometimes eat living plants, consuming the leaves, stems, roots and fruits.
- Pill bugs can be pests in some agricultural systems, especially in areas prone to heavy rain and flooding. They may feed on crops like strawberries, peas, corn, cucumber, beans, squash, melon, chard, beet, potato, spinach and lettuce.
You can prevent pill bugs from damaging seedlings or vegetables, if you:
- Avoid overwatering, which leads to moist soil conditions
- Remove any decaying plant material
Their foraging has a positive impact on the ecosystem. They have been shown to increase nutrients in the soil, including potassium, nitrogen, phosphorous, increased pH, and higher amounts of carbon.
Pill bugs also provide a food source for birds, spiders, wasps, toads, and centipedes.
THEY ARE HAPPIEST WHEN THEY ARE OUTDOORS
- Pill bugs may occasionally be found inside homes. They are not known to cause any damage. Neither do not contaminate food or spread diseases.
- Since a building is typically not a damp environment, they will often dry out and die.
- If you find one in your home, it can easily be swept up and released outside.
- You can prevent their re-entry by putting weather stripping under doors, and sealing up any floor-level cracks that they might crawl through.
If you have other pests like roaches, spiders or ants you might be interested in our indoor pest control program. We control the bugs in your home by protecting the outside. With our treatments we can keep bugs from getting into your home in the first place. By stopping them outside, we can drastically reduce the amount of chemicals we need to spray inside your home.