If you’ve ever peeked under a rock or log in your Houston, TX yard, you’ve probably noticed pill bugs scurrying around. These harmless pests technically aren’t bugs at all, but crustaceans like shrimp and lobsters. While they can’t bite or sting and aren’t known to transmit disease, they can be a nuisance to put up with and may damage the roots of your garden plants.
What To Know About Pill Bugs
Pill bugs and sowbugs are two incredibly similar-looking pests with a few key differences. These pests both average about 1/2 inch in length and have an exoskeleton composed of several segmented plates. They may vary in color from light to dark gray. Both are primarily active at night, prefer moist and dark habitats, and are omnivorous, feeding on various decaying plant and animal matter.
The main difference between sow bugs and pill bugs is that sowbugs have a pair of tail-like rear appendages, while pillbugs don’t. Pill bugs can curl up into a defensive ball when threatened (earning them the nickname “rolly pollies”), while sowbugs cannot perform this behavior.
Where Do Pill Bugs Live?
Whether it’s pill bugs or sow bugs, both are likely to be found in dark, moist areas amidst the decaying organic material in your yard. They need to retain a certain amount of moisture to survive and avoid direct exposure to sunlight, which could dry them out. During the day, they can be found hiding under planks, rocks, pots, or other yard debris that shields them from the sun. At night, they emerge to feed on dead leaves and mulch, though they may also feed on live plants from time to time.
Pill bugs and sowbugs prefer life outdoors and generally don’t fare well inside homes and businesses. However, if your property has high moisture levels, pillbugs may be tempted to come in for a visit. Basements and bathrooms with high humidity are most likely to be infested. Heavy rains may also force these pests to seek shelter, which could bring them indoors.
Are Pill Bugs Dangerous?
Pill bugs and sowbugs are about as harmless as pests can get. They don’t bite or cause illness and aren’t especially dangerous – unless you’re a plant. When there isn’t enough decaying plant matter to eat, pill bugs go after live plants. While the damage is usually minor, a large infestation can cause noticeable problems in your garden. As pillbugs feed, they may damage the roots of plants, exposing them to harmful bacteria and fungi that can kill them.
How To Prevent Pill Bugs
Pill bugs and sowbugs both require significant amounts of moisture to survive. Addressing moisture problems is key to controlling the population, but there are some other pill bug prevention methods you can use:
- Yard work – Eliminate any decaying plant material like dead leaves, rotting wood, and compost from your yard. Remove debris like planks and large stones that give pill bugs shelter. Ensure that firewood is stored at least 20 feet away from the property on an elevated platform.
- Moisture control – Reduce the moisture in your soil by ensuring that drains and gutters are flowing properly to prevent water backup. Seal any leaking spigots or pipes. Try to limit air conditioner use to prevent dripping into the soil.
- Ventilation – Be sure to crack windows in basement areas to reduce humidity and moisture. Try installing a dehumidifier or running electric fans.
For more information about our home pest control services for controlling pill bugs at your Houston yard, get in touch with the experts at All-Safe Pest & Termite today!