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Sowbugs

How do I recognize a sowbug?

There are two common species of land-adapted crustaceans —the sowbug and pillbug. The sowbug is dark brown or grey and measures 16 mm (1/2″). The pillbug is a shiny grey and measures 10 mm (1/4″). Both are easily recognizable by seven overlapping shells resembling armor and have seven pairs of legs. The main difference between the sowbug and the pillbug is the pillbug’s ability to roll into a ball when disturbed.

Do sowbugs cause damage?

Although sowbugs are principally beneficial because they assist in the breakdown or decaying organic matter, they can be a threat to young plants. Indoors, they are more of a pest and will eventually die out.

When am I most likely to see sowbugs?

Sowbugs prefer darkness and are most active at night. If the ground becomes overly moist especially after a rainfall, you will see them moving around in the garden seeking dryer areas.

Where do you find sowbugs?

Sowbugs prefer moist locations and are found under stones, boards and vegetable debris of all kinds. Indoors, sowbugs will at times invade damp basement areas, and wander to other areas of the home seeking moisture.

Are sowbugs hazardous to humans?

No. The presence of sowbugs does not constitute a health hazard.

What are the sowbugs breeding habits? Do they multiply quickly?

The female sowbug carries approximately 40 eggs on her underside until they hatch (approximately 44 days), and has an average of two broods per year. The young molt every two weeks until maturity at 20 weeks, when females become capable of reproduction. An infestation of sowhugs can number in the thousands.

Do sowbugs die off in cold months?

No. Sowbugs become inactive during cold months, but live for up to two years.

Can weather conditions affect the size of a sowbug infestation?

Yes. Since sowbugs prefer dampness, a moist spring will encourage a larger number outdoors. Therefore, if summer months are dry, sowbugs will invade homes in search of moisture.

Can I do anything to prevent an infestation of sowbugs on my property?

Yes. Eliminate sources of combined darkness and moisture, such as vegetable or wood debris from your property, especially those close to the building. Proper ventilation in basement areas of the home will discourage an indoor infestation of sowbugs.

If I have an infestation of sowbugs, what can be done to eliminate them?

Your local PCO Service and Products Centre has products and kits specially formulated for the control of sowbugs. Due to the nature of sowbugs, control can be difficult and a PCO professional should be consulted for thorough results.

Please remember all pesticides can be harmful if misused. Follow the label directions carefully.