Sowbug / Pillbug

Name: Trachelipus
Order: Isopoda

They have oval bodies, convex above and a flat or hollow beneath. They are dark to slate in colour and have 7 pairs of legs. Sowbugs can be separated from Pillbugs by the fact that they can not roll up a tight ball like a Pillbug. As well, the sow bug has two tail like appendages that the Pillbug does not have.


Sowbug / Pillbug Identification

Sowbugs and pillbugs are the only crustaceans that have completely adapted to spending their whole life on land. They have oval bodies, convex above and flat or hollow beneath. They feed on decaying vegetative matter and leaf litter.

Sowbug / Pillbug Habitat

The common pillbug and the dooryard sowbug are worldwide in distribution. They like moist locations and are found under objects on damp ground and under leaf litter. They are mostly active at night.

Sowbug / Pillbug Life Cycle

The female carries her young in a pouch on the underside of her body. She gives birth to many while quite young. There are usually one or two generations per year depending upon environmental conditions; 30 young per generation.

Sowbug / Pillbug Prevention

Homeowners can control moisture levels to help eliminate/limit their presence; by fixing leaks, insulate sweating water pipes and dehumidify.

Preparation Steps for Sowbug / Pillbug Treatment

1. Removing Items and debris from moist dark areas such as under porches, in window well, around rock gardens, etc. to allow access to the technician.

2. Vacate the premises during service and do not re-enter until at least 4 hours after treatment or until the product is completely dry. Open windows for 20 minutes after re-entry if possible.

3. Before service, infants, pregnant women and people suffering from heart, kidney, respiratory ailments or allergies should consult a medical doctor.

Download Pillbug Preparation Sheet

Sowbugs / Pillbugs - Questions and Answers

How do you tell sowbugs and pillbugs apart?

Sowbugs can be distinguished from a pillbugs by the fact that they cannot roll up into a tight ball like a pillbug. As well, the sowbug has two tail-like appendages that the pillbug does not have.

Do sowbugs and pillbugs live indoors?

Sowbugs and pillbugs will at times invade damp basement areas as well as the first floors of houses. When this occurs they are most likely always present in large numbers in the soil and under plants immediately outside the house. Generally sowbugs and pillbugs do not live long inside as they dry out quickly.

What do sowbugs and pillbugs eat?

Sowbugs and pillbugs normally feed on decaying vegetable matter.

Are sowbugs / pillbugs active in the winter?

They become inactive during the winter months although this may not be the case in artificially heated buildings such as greenhouses.

What are the breeding habits of sowbugs / pillbugs?

The female carries her young in a pouch called a marsupium on the underside of the body. She gives birth to many white living young. There are usually one or two generations per year depending on environmental conditions.

What can I do to prevent a sowbug / pillbug infestation?

Leaves, grass clippings, mulch, boards, stones and similar material close to the building should be removed since these may harbour sowbugs and pillbugs. Avoid excess moisture in basements or crawlspaces, and repair any cracks or openings into your home.

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