Often called potato bugs, pillbugs and sowbugs are crustaceans pests that are more closely related to shrimp and crayfish than to insects. They are dark slate grey in colour and measure approximately 2 cm in length. Pillbugs and sowbugs are very similar in appearance. The biggest difference between the two species is pillbugs can roll into a ball when alarmed and sowbugs cannot. Also, the sowbug has two tail-like appendages that the pillbug does not have.
Pillbugs and sowbugs are common pests found throughout Ontario. They typically prefer to live outdoors in damp dark places but pillbugs and sowbugs will at times invade damp basement areas as well as the first floors of residential, recreational/cottage and business properties. Both species need to stay moist in order to survive, so they actively scavenge for decaying leaf litter and vegetable matter only in the cool of the night. To prevent dehydration during the day, they seek dark, moist areas to hide and rest. Pillbugs and sowbugs often gather in groups, huddling together to reduce evaporation. Some even burrow into the ground to keep their gills wet. Gills are the primary breathing apparatus for all crustaceans, and must remain moist in order to function.
Though generally not a destructive pest, pillbugs and sowbugs in large numbers can do significant damage to plants, gardens and crops. Like other garden pests, they’re feeding can lead to a decrease in the annual harvest of any crop. Once established around or on the property, pillbugs and sowbugs will occasionally move inside to avoid excessive cold or heat.
To eliminate and reduce the risk of pillbugs and sowbugs invading your residential, recreational/cottage or commercial properties, treatment and exclusion is the best prevention.
Solace Pest Solutions can provide you with treatment, exclusion and prevention solutions.