Sowbugs

Facts, Identification, & Control

Scientific Name

Porcellio laevis and P. scaber.

Appearance

What Do They Look Like?

Sowbugs

  • Size: Sowbugs are flat, oval creatures that are about 1 cm long.
  • Body: Their body has several segments, including seven pair of legs and two pair of antennae.
  • Characteristics: Despite their name, sowbugs, sometimes called a woodlouse, are not really bugs. They are land-living crustaceans. Another crustacean, the pillbug, resembles the sowbug. Sowbugs cannot roll up when they are disturbed like pillbugs do. Sowbugs have two appendages that look like tails. Pillbugs do not have the appendages.

How Did I Get Sowbugs?

Sowbugs feed on organic material and thrive in moist habitats, usually coming into homes through ground-level doors and windows. The pests may also make their way into garages or damp basements through structural cracks in homes.

Mulch, leaves, and other plants attract sowbugs to yards and houses and many times homeowners will find the pests in the mulch around foundations, bushes, and in the gardens where they feed upon decomposing organic matter found in their habitat. Since many areas in a home are too dry, the pests usually die after they come indoors.

How Serious Are Sowbugs?

Besides living in the soil of houseplants, these pests cause little damage and do not cause harm indoors. In general, sowbugs are simply a nuisance, as they do not bite or sting and are harmless to humans. Their presence inside usually indicates a large population outside.

How Do I Get Rid of Sowbugs?

What You Can Do
The best way to prevent sowbugs is eliminating their hiding places, if there are no damp environments to live in, they will leave or die. There are several things that homeowners can do to help prevent the pests:

  • Clean Up: Stack firewood off of the ground and move it away from the house. Move logs, boards, and stones that sowbugs could use as hiding places. Move piles of dead leaves and grass clippings. Check downspouts to be sure they drain away from the foundation.
  • Create a Barrier: Pull mulch in flowerbeds away from the foundation. Create a zone next to the home that is free of mulch and leaves. The zone should be 15 to 30 cm wide. This will discourage sowbugs and other pests from nesting. It may be necessary to trim limbs of trees or shrubs if they cause a damp, shady environment near the foundation.
  • Seal Cracks & Holes: Make sure exterior doors close tightly. Replace weather stripping and door sweeps that are missing or damaged. Make sure there is a door on the crawl space entrance to keep sowbugs out. Check crawlspace vents to be sure they are open to allow ventilation. Sometimes people who live in brick homes insert small squares of plastic screening into weep holes to block sowbugs from entering the home.
  • Reduce Moisture: Waterproofing might help eliminate dampness on basement walls. Check with the specialists at the home store to see what products they recommend. Sometimes a dehumidifier will help reduce the dampness in a basement.

What Orkin Does
Your local Orkin technician is trained to help manage sowbugs and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep sowbugs in their place…out of your home, or business.


Behavior, Diet, & Habits

What Do They Eat?
Sowbugs eat organic debris and decaying plants, so it is common to find them under mulch in flowerbeds. To conserve moisture, they are usually active at night.

Where Do They Live?
Sowbugs are not able to retain water in their bodies, so they spend most of their time in damp places. Outdoors they hide under:

  • Flowerpots
  • Logs
  • Rocks
  • Trash cans

More Information:

What Do Sowbugs Eat?