Pill Bugs

Facts, Identification, & Control

Scientific Name

Armadillidium vulgare (Latreille)


What Do They Look Like?
  • Body: Oval shaped with an armor-like shell made of seven hard plates, seven pairs of legs, and two antennae.
  • Color: Coloring ranges from dark brown to black or gray.
  • Size: Pill Bugs measure approximately 3/4" in length.

How Did I Get Pill Bugs?

The presence of these pests in the house usually points to an outdoor infestation, as large populations may move indoors looking for alternative food and shelter. Yards with excessive moisture and debris often harbor pill bugs. Heavy rainfall during spring and early summer can also drive them inside. Residents frequently find the pests in damp basements or first-floor bathrooms. Pill bugs often invade storage buildings, garages, and homes through sliding glass doors and other ground-level entrances such as:

  • Cracks in walls
  • Doors
  • Ill-fitting screens
  • Windows

How Serious Are Pill Bugs?

Most homeowners simply consider these pests a nuisance. Pill bugs do not bite, sting, or carry any harmful diseases. They do not damage household items or deposit eggs indoors. However, they may damage the roots of plants when feeding. Pill bugs rarely live long indoors, the indoor environment is too dry for them and they die after coming inside.

How Do I Get Rid of Pill Bugs

What You Can Do

The first step in preventing pill bugs is reducing the moisture around the home. Here are some tips to reducing moisture inside and around your home:

  • Mulch: Mulch in flowerbeds should be no deeper then 2 in. Homeowners should pull mulch away from the home’s foundation. A “dry zone” of 6 to 12 inches around the foundation will discourage pill bugs and other pests.
  • Wood: Stack firewood off the ground. It should be as far away from the house as possible.
  • Plants: Flowerpots should be on racks or stands off the ground.
  • Gutters: Gutters and downspouts should drain away from the foundation.
  • Trees: It may be necessary to trim tree limbs if they cause a damp shady area near the home.
  • Ventilation: Crawlspace vents should be unblocked to allow air circulation. This can reduce dampness. Very damp basements may require a dehumidifier.
What Orkin Does

Your local Orkin technician is trained to help manage pill bugs 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 pill bugs in their place…out of your home, or business.

Behavior, Diet, & Habits

Pill bugs get their name from their habit of curling into a ball when they are disturbed. Some people call them “roly polies” for the same reason. Despite the name, pill bugs are not really bugs. They are land-dwelling crustaceans in the order Isopoda.

What Do They Eat?

Pill bugs are scavengers. They eat decaying plant material. They sometimes damage young plants and will also eat animal material if they find it.

Where Do They Live?

There are pill bugs throughout the world, and they usually live in areas where there is high moisture. Because their bodies do not hold water, they stay hidden during the day and are active at night. They commonly live under landscape timbers and flowerbed mulch. It is also common to find them under flowerpots and trashcans.

More Information How Many Legs Do Pill Bugs Have? What Do Pill Bugs Eat?