Archive for Monday, June 17, 2013


Fix-It Chick: Controlling roly-polies

June 17, 2013


Roly-poly bugs, also known as pillbugs, are one of the more beloved “bugs.”

Found under rocks and in moist areas inside and outside the home, these little nocturnal crustaceans are known for their ability to roll up into firm little balls at the first sign of danger.

Pillbugs are typically beneficial to gardens. Like earthworms, they are an important part of decomposition, turning organic matter into usable nutrients for plants and assisting with the aeration of soil. Pillbugs can also remove heavy metals and toxic metal ions from the soil.

A pillbug

A pillbug

Excessive amounts of moisture coupled with warm temperatures can cause pillbug populations to swoon. Unusually large numbers of pillbugs can be problematic, as increased chewing on roots and live plant tissue can cause irreparable damage to desirable vegetation.

Reducing roly-poly populations is a relatively simple process.

Step 1: Eliminate excessive moisture by watering for longer intervals less often. Allow the top inch or so of soil to dry completely between waterings.

Step 2: Improve drainage around the exterior of the home by fixing gutters, extending down spouts and properly grading around the foundation and near garden areas.

Step 3: Remove garden debris and leaf clutter. Pull back mulch and eliminate black plastic ground cover.

Step 4: Provide trellises for vines and climbing plants to improve air circulation. Trim back over grown vegetation and collect fallen or rotting fruit and produce.

Step 5: Use bricks or terra cotta feet to raise potted plants off the ground. Cover the bottom of planters with a fiberglass screen to keep bugs from crawling up through the drain holes.

Step 6: Inside the home, vacuum or sweep up existing roly-polies. Install a dehumidifier. Increase air circulation by reducing clutter, lifting items off the floor and pulling shelving and furniture away from walls.

Step 7: Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the foundation of the home and in and around garden areas where roly-polies are found. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth in flower pots and window wells, on carpets, around base boards, under sinks, in damp areas and in accessible crawl spaces.

Step 8: Introduce natural predators to the garden area; these include frogs, toads, woodlouse spiders and small mammals.

Step 9: If problems persist, natural pesticides such as Spinosad and neem oil are effective in controlling pillbug populations, as are typical garden chemicals, including permethrin and carbaryl.


FlintlockRifle 4 years, 10 months ago

Thanks, don't like finding they in the housewith my bare feet. When I was a kid liked playing with them.

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