Everything You Need to Know About Roly-Poly Bugs


As the weather begins to get warmer, bugs start to come out of hiding. The warm weather is the perfect time for them to start breeding, which makes even more bugs. If you’ve been working in your yard, garage, or basement and have discovered a pile of creepy-crawlies reminiscent of the bug-slurping scene in “The Lion King,” then you probably have stumbled upon a family of pill bugs, and they were probably as happy to see you as you were them. That is to say, not at all.

Roly-Poly Bugs

If you’ve come across new and unusual insects or other pests in your home, contact Environmental Pest Management for advice and assistance in treating them. We’re your friend for dealing with unwanted insects, arachnids, rodents, and other pests. Whether you have pill bugs or sowbugs — or any different kind of critter that belong outside, not inside — we can identify the problem and implement a solution.

Pill bugs and sowbugs are quite fascinating and can serve as a proper science lesson for your kids or satisfy your curiosity. Check out these facts while you’re dealing with evicting your roly-poly family.

What is a Pill Bug?

Armadillidiidae (the scientific name for pill bugs) have so many different names to chose from, for instance:

  • Armadillo Bugs
  • Doodle Bugs
  • Wood Lice
  • Potato Bugs
  • Roly-polies

These isopods are found across the U.S., typically in moist areas and around some decaying matter. They are about ¾” long, oval-shaped, and with an armor-like shell. Their shell has seven hard plates, similar to a crayfish. Although they are called a bug, they aren’t an insect at all. Pill bugs, and their cousins, the sowbug, are land-dwelling crustaceans more similar to a lobster than they are to an ant.They are purplish-gray and have seven pairs of legs as well as two jointed antennae. Pill bugs get their nickname of “roly-poly” because of the way they curl up into a ball when startled or disturbed.


What is the Difference between a Pill Bug and a Sowbug?

Many people confuse sow bugs and pill bugs since they look similar at first glance. Sowbugs are slightly smaller than pill bugs and have two small tail-like structures protruded from their back end that pill bugs lack. Sowbugs also cannot roll into a ball like a pill bug can. Both enjoy similar diets and habits so you might have one, the other, or both.

Also Read: Secret Bug Breeding Grounds in Your Home This Winter

Where Do Roly-Poly Bugs Live?

Pill bugs are small scavengers who eat decaying plant material. They will also eat young plants and can damage the roots of your flowers or vegetables. You will most often find them hiding under logs, leaf piles, stepping stones, landscape timbers, rocks, trash cans, garden debris, flower pots, mulch, compost, or other dark, damp areas. You may also find roly-polies in your storage building, shed, or garage.

Roly-poly bugs’ bodies do not hold water, which is why they need a moist environment. They typically stay hidden during the day and are more active at night. If you turn over a rock or log and uncover roly-polies, they will usually form a circle to protect themselves and not move until you go away. They prefer to be left alone, but you may prefer for them to be somewhere besides in or around your home.

Roly-polies a little prehistoric-looking and creepy, but they pose no harm to you, your family, or your pets. Pill bugs don’t carry any diseases, nor do they sting or bite. They rarely live long after coming indoors because it’s too dry for them, however, if they can find a nice moist corner of your basement or a leaking pipe that provides them with a water source, they may decide to take up residence and even raise a family.


Why are Pill Bugs In and Around My Home?

If pill bugs are in your home, it’s likely because they are already rampant around your home’s foundation. They’ve found their way inside via cracks in your walls, your doors, windows, or ill-fitting screens. They’re most common in damp basements and first-floor bathrooms.

If your yard has excessive moisture or your gutters and downspouts drain close to your foundation, you could be making a haven for pill bugs. If your outside population is large, some enterprising rolly-pollies may seek out the inside of your home for an additional food source and shelter. Additionally, heavy rains can drive pill bugs inside your home to protect them from the pelting rain and the flooding of their common areas.

Also Read: Good Bugs for Your Garden

How Do I Get Rid of Pill Bugs

Pill bugs crave moisture. To get rid of pill bugs, you’ll have to address how your home and yard are hospitable to them. Reducing moisture around your home will send pill bugs packing.

  • Check Your Gutters: Are they blocked or clogged? Leaf debris in your gutters is a haven for roly-polies.
  • Check Your Downspouts: If your downspouts dump their contents close to your home’s foundation, you’ll be making a nice moist area for pill bugs to prosper. Consider extending your downspout or adding a splash block to divert the water farther from your foundation.
  • Consider a dehumidifier: If your basement is chronically damp, a dehumidifier will help reduce the likelihood of mold and mildew as well as make your basement less hospitable to roly-polies.
  • Watch your wood piles: If you keep firewood near your house, it makes an excellent home for pill bugs. Create a frame for your wood to keep it off the ground and refrain from stacking against your home.
  • Maintain your mulch: Keep your landscape mulch 6-12” away from your foundation to keep pill bugs from finding their way into your home.
  • Lure them out with half of a cantaloupe or a hollowed out potato. The pill bugs will be attracted to the moisture and get inside. You can then put them in the woods away from your home.
  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around your flower pots or in the area where you just found pill bugs. It will dry them out and kill them.

Cleaning Gator

Environmental Pest Management Knows Pill Bugs and More

If you’d rather have someone else deal with your pill bug problem, give us a call at Environmental Pest Management. Our team will be out to inspect, plan, and execute your unwanted creepy critters. We use eco-friendly methods whenever possible so you can trust that you and your family and pets will be safe. Schedule an appointment today.

22 Replies to “Everything You Need to Know About Roly-Poly Bugs”

      1. I have 2 as pets and I keep them is a container that’s most for my kid, and he is so fascinated by them ist crazy

  1. Why is there ticks that resemble roly polys? All over my dogs and now in my bed and I think they bite me. I’ve seen ticks and this are very much disguised as Riley Lily’s they have blood inside.

  2. Great info. Noticed the last couple days them dragging vegetation around and have never seen them do that before. Didnt know that’s what they ate.

  3. Why would you want to get rid of them outside your home? I thought they help to eliminate heavy metals like mercury, cadmium and lead? They don’t hurt you or animals. Do they cause harm to the soil or plants? Just wondering.

  4. Roly poly bugs primarily eat decaying matter and rarely eat living plants. Usually, they have a positive effect and improve soil quality. This is not a creature you should worry yourself over.

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