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How to Get Rid of Rollie Pollies (aka Doodle Bugs, Woodlice, Pill Bugs and Sow Bugs)

This article was written as a response to the question: How do you get rid of pill bugs aka rolly pollies or sow bugs in the home?
Rollie Pollie bugs, their habitat and how to keep them out of your home

Rollie Pollie bugs are known my a number of other names, Doodle bugs, Woodlice, Pill bugs and Snow bugs, to name a few. The scientific name for these little guys is Armadillidium Nasatum. The name reflects the Armadillo like structure of their exoskeleton. They are crustaceans akin to shrimp and in addition to having 2 compound eyes, 2 pairs of antennae and 3 pairs of mouth parts, they have gills for breathing.

Most varieties have the curious habit of curling up into a tight ball when disturbed. They group in colonies and it’s not unusual to find several “babies” in a group as they stay close to mom for some time. These isopods pose no threat to humans as they do not bite or sting. They don’t interfere with our food or clothing and are not known to carry any diseases dangerous to humans. They are as harmless as a Ladybug.

Because they breathe with gills, they need moisture to survive. They also tend to be nocturnal. That’s why you normally find them under rocks or rotting wood on the ground. These spaces are cool, moist and dark.

In their natural outdoor environment, they are beneficial creatures, since they thrive on dead and decomposing leaves and vegetation. They are part of nature’s cleanup crew. They are quite content to stay in their outdoor spaces, hidden from view of us humans. However, sometimes they venture into our homes. When they do, we need to understand that it is usually our fault. Any time we create an environment that is cool dark and moist, it won’t take long for the rollie pollies to move in.

If you have them in your home, you can use pesticides to kill them. But rather than killing such a beneficial critter, I prefer to simply remove the habitat the draws them in and naturally eliminate the problem.

Start by looking at your homes foundation where it meets the ground. Improper drainage by your gutters can cause excessive moisture around the foundation. Take steps to remove this moisture by repairing and cleaning your gutters. If you have small cracks or crevasses in the foundation, use calk to seal them. Also, remove any old wood or rocks that are close to the house. Planters attached to the house can be a great habitat as well. Even if not attached, planter pots near the house can also be a cause. In the basement and other below ground areas, try keeping the humidity down by using a dehumidifier or a fan to keep the moisture down.

These innocuous little “bugs” may not be natures most attractive creation, but they are pretty good at what they do. So I say, live and let live. But they just need to live outside where they belong!

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Comments (6)

Those little bugs are so cute, I too say Live and let live... I even catch wasps who enter my home and set them free back outside. Everyone values their life the same, be it a human or bug, we all want to live.

Joseph Fontana

Your article is very nice and informative. However, I would like to point out that the image at the top of the article is not the crustacean A. vulgare. It's actually a myriapod of the genus Glomeris. The giveaway is the two set of "feet" from each body segment. The isopod crustaceans would only have one.

Dave

They are eating my garden lettuce. I'm killing them. I was having pretty good luck drowning them all, but if you say they have gills, what the heck was REALLY killing them? Hmm.

mandy

can a doodlebug kill my plants

there are plenty of woodlice in our home!!!!!! They venture out of their resting places every night and we have to kill them!!!! Nevertheless, didnt know they eat rotten leaves!

sarah

hm well if you really think that rolly pollies are beneficial, your wrong. and i am sure most would agree. every time my strawberries ripen all nice and red, I come back the next morning and there are little holes chewed up on the side of my strawberries. I have fifteen plants together and at the base of all the leaves and such are little groups of rolly polly bugs, and ants. And I am NOT okay with it. Very frusterating. And it depresses me, not even the ant poison killed them

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