whats eating my strawberries

bobbygil(7)May 1, 2009

Hi..This is my 1st full year with my strawberries and they seemed to be doing great. Some are already getting big and red. Except something is eating them. Its a small, about 1/16 of an inch black bug that when I take them out of the fruit and in my palm they just roll up. What is it and how do I get rid of these little buggers. thanks Bobby

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Karen Pease

Pillbugs. AKA sowbugs. AKA rolly-pollys. They're a land-dwelling crustaceans, more closely related to things like crabs and shrimp than insects. They actually don't prefer to eat things like strawberries; their preferred food is rotting matter (they're "dessicavores"). However, they tend to go through boom and bust cycles. When it's wet and there's lots of organic matter around, their populations explode. When their population is high and their food supply isn't sufficient, strawberries are a common target for them to eat.

I've never had to control them, but I've heard it's tough. You can try diatomaceous earth or black plastic. Best control is prevention, though -- don't have organic stuff that stays soggy on the surface, and keep good airflow in the area.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 4:35PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I've never seen a pillbug nearly that small.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 4:58PM
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Karen Pease

What other small black bugs that roll up into balls and eat strawberries are there?

It looks like this, right?


    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 5:27PM
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bobbygil(7)

I couldnt access that picture but I googled Pillbugs and in the pictures they look more like a beetle than what I have. These are like really really small catapillar shaped things. When I took 2 out of a strawberry they rolled up n froze. I have almost no weeds, its been a little dry and there are pine needles in the bed from trees above. Only a very small amount of berries are even ripe, most are very small green still but I sure hope they arent going to get in all of them...thanks for the help bobby

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 6:23PM
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Karen Pease

Did you perchance count the legs at least? Did it curl up into a ball or a spiral? If there are lots of legs and it curled up into a spiral, it could be a millipede. They can eat strawberries.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 6:33PM
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bobbygil(7)

I just went out and couldnt find any of the little varmits but there were some damaged ones.When I pulled 2 off earlier they were so small I thought it was just dirt. Once pulled off they right away rolled up into a ball and when I nudged them they opened up again. I would of needed a magnifying glass to see if they even had legs they were so small. Maybe they will just eat a few and leave me the rest..another words I dont know what to do...bobby

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 7:16PM
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