and pillbugs, also known as "woodlice,” are an outdoor pest; however, they
sometimes invade basements or the ground
levels of buildings. Sowbugs that do
make it inside face imminent death
unless they find a moist place to live,
such as near a leaky pipe or in a damp
basement, bathroom or laundry room.
These creatures are a nuisance by their
presence only and pose no threat to
humans-- they do not bite or cause any
structural or household damage. The only
danger they pose is to young plants in
greenhouses, which is something that
they feed on. Some pool swimmers may
find them a nuisance, as the bugs may
jump in and drown, leaving behind their
These creatures are actually slow-moving
crustaceans. They are closely related to
lobsters and shrimp, but do not taste
nearly as good.
Sowbugs are oval-shaped or slightly
elongated with a flattened body and
measure up to 3/4" long. They possess no
wings, and are brownish or slate gray in
color. Other outstanding features
include well-developed eyes, seven pairs
of legs and overlapping "armored" plates
that make them look somewhat like
miniature armadillos. Sowbugs have two
tail-like structures on their rear end.
Pillbugs are similar, except they lack
tail-like appendages and have the
ability to roll up into tight balls.
Both are crustaceans. Young sowbugs and
pillbugs resemble the adults, except
they are smaller and lighter in color.
Both sowbugs and pillbugs mate
throughout the year, with most activity
occurring in the spring. The female
carries the eggs, numbering from 7 to
200, in a brood pouch on the underside
of her body. Eggs hatch in 3 to 7 weeks
and the young are white-colored. They
remain in the brood pouch for 6 to 8
weeks until they are able to take care
of themselves. One to two generations
are born per year, and individual bugs
live for up to three years.
Sowbugs and pillbugs like damp, dark
conditions. They will stay underneath
logs, flower bed mulches, grass
clippings, leaf litter, rotting boards,
trash, and rocks and hang around pet
droppings. Since adequate moisture is
essential to their survival, they
sometimes need to group together to
reduce water loss. Sowbugs are more
active at night than during the day.
During the winter months, they become
inactive unless they have access to a
heated building or greenhouse.
Sowbugs and pillbugs feed on decaying
organic matter and, occasionally, young
plants and their roots.
back to top