Pill Bugs

br33May 15, 2008

How do I control Pill bugs in strawberries, or any where in my veggies and flowers Thanks Bill

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arwmommy(9b So. Calif.)

My seedlings got TRASHED by pill bugs this year--- I had to replant almost everything. There are very few organic solutions--- but 'Sluggo Plus' (organically approved!) has worked wonders for us. Warning--- it is pricy, but goes a very long way. It is enough for us for probably 2 years!

I have linked below to a photo of it (but I bought it at my local nursery)

Keep in mind that 'Sluggo' kills just slugs/snails and the 'Sluggo Plus' kills slugs, snails, pill bugs (also called sowbugs) and earwigs.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Sluggo Plus Photo Link

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 6:24PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

If you are completely organic everywhere, you should have enough lizards, toads, and geckos to control the bugs. If you have cats, your population of lizards, toads, and geckos may be suffering.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 9:06PM
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thanks arwmommy good info--will try--
thanks dchall--( have cats,) Bill

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 9:52PM
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I've seen a lot of pill bugs this year. I don't think metro Denver has any lizards, toads, or geckos to eat them.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 10:28PM
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I have the same problem with the little mother^&%$#s and I do not want to use any chemicals so I tried the beer in a cup thing and have probably killed a few hundred in the last few days.

Bury an empty tuna can just up to the rim and fill it about 2/3 of the way with beer. The sow bugs like it and they end up either ODing on alcohol or just get a little buzz and drown. Either way it has been working. Since I have had such good success this week with just 2 of them I am going to place a few more in my garden.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 3:44AM
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Because pill bugs, aka sow bugs, wood lice, and some other unprintable names, are scavangers and clean up after other insects and because most often they are the ones caught with their hands in the cookie jar many people blame them for things they did not do. The damage to your strawberries more than likely was caused by something else, something other than the pill bugs. Look deeper to find the real culprit.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 6:41AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Wrong, kimmsr. They can cause considerable damage to tender veggie crops, seedlings, etc. Damage to stawberries is commonplace.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 3:14PM
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I have to admit that the garden used to crawl with them, especially the mulch, but they simply went away. I do have a lot of lizards but never thought of thanking them. I simply liked having them around. Just as I like the toad, who I have credited (with no real basis of knowledge) with ridding the yard of slugs, which also used to be abundant.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 9:24PM
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These wee buggers feed primarily on decaying vegetative waste although large populations may also feed on plant roots. While most people place the blame for the damage on these Isopods they really are not the cause of the damage and are simply moving in for the cleanup. I do understand that there are a lot of people out there that cannot believe that.

Here is a link that might be useful: About these Isopods

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 6:37AM
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My lily bulbs died before flowering this year, in a transplant, dumping there were more pillbugs than dirt. And now my patio garden looks like creepshow with the things, they are in everything. They are in all my planters now, and my bag of organic dirt. Is it possible that there can be too many harmless bugs! HELP!
is there enough beer? what is the organic solution?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 8:09PM
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Well, they were on the crawl today by the hundreds! Trying to keep my clover alive in back as much as possible and they were heading for water. Anyone else seen this? I have water for the dogs in a big tub and a large pot of water for the toad. so.......

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 3:53AM
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Lizards don't eat roly polys, at least our pet lizard wouldn't touch them. I don't think anything wants to eat them, I am guessing they taste terrible.
And Kimmsr still doesn't believe roly polys eat strawberries, tomatoes, tender seedlings, and anything else they can reach even though dozens of posters have told him they saw them doing that with their own eyes. Kimmsr, don't believe everything you read in books or on the internet, use your own eyes.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 5:40PM
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I've found my best solution is to have fresh decaying organic matter in a pile nearby CONSTANTLY for the woodlice, then they leave my plants alone for the most part. But good luck tender stems if I let that decaying o.m. shrink too much, the horde of woodlice then goes into search & destroy mode.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 8:54PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

In defense of Kimmsr, that earlier post of his is three years old. I fully expect that he's listened and read enough from gardeners all over the place to have LEARNED that these crustaceans CAN be true first category pests.

It IS supremely irritating to read comments like that, though....lol. Especially for those who have first hand experience with these animals' bad side.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 10:55PM
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Pill Bugs, Sow Bugs, Wood Lice, Potato Bugs, Isopods are relatives of lobsters, crayfish, etc. and need a moist environment to live in. They feed primarily on decaying vegetation, although they can feed on living plants. Mostly, however, when they do feed on your live plants something else has caused the initial damage and they are simply cleaning up.
Of course no one has to believe what people that have studied these wee buggers for years have to say about them and can continue to carry false images areound with them. Organic gardeners will have fairly large populations of them simply because of the way we garden. Part of organic gardening is understanding your environment and the part various critters play in that environment.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 11:31AM
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I too had to learn the hard way, as I'm in my third season of vegetable gardening in Florida and these "cute" (not!) little sh!ts ate my young green bean seedlings and even chewed my young cabbage plants to rags. My coworker who was born and raised in Florida would not believe me that roly polies could possibly be the culprit, so I had to invite him over and show him!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 9:52PM
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Are the lighter colored bugs pill bugs as well? I thought they were..

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 9:56PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

This topic is worth getting to the bottom of. Back in the 90s we had an infestation of wood lice by the thousands. They were in the garden and even found a way into the house. They collected into herds of about 1,000 each on the concrete walkway. One thing I do not remember was any effect on the plants in the garden. That was back before I was organic so I'm sure we just dusted some Sevin around to get rid of them. But more to this point, what causes them to overpopulate? are they a real pest? do they have any natural predators? and what can you do to get rid of them?

One of the problems with finding that answer is they go by so many different common names: Pillbugs, sowbugs, roly poly, woodlice, etc. I did find this from Philip Sloderbeck, an entomologist at Kansas State University.

Sowbugs and pillbugs are primarily
restricted to locations with high humidity
and moisture. They feed on decaying
vegetable matter. Favorite habitats include
leaf piles, grass clippings, pet droppings,
old boards and various types of mulches.
They can feed on young, tender vegetation
or fruit and can damage beans, lettuce,
strawberries and other garden crops. They
frequently invade damp basements and
crawl spaces and may infest potted plants.
A heavy infestation indoors generally
indicates is a large population outside.

It at least acknowledges that pillbugs will eat strawberries. Unfortunately his control methods are all chemical.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 7:01PM
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I suspect what caused a spike in the pill bug population in my yard was the milorganite I spread over my lawn. A couple if months later the pill bugs were everywhere.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 8:00PM
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bloobeari, the Milorganite had little to do with a spike in the population of the Pill Bugs unless that created an increase in available food and shelter for them. Perhaps this link that talks of the habitat these isopods need might be of some help.

Here is a link that might be useful: About Isopods

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 6:16AM
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Thanks for the link, kimmsr. It's awesome to know they purify the soil from toxins. Had no idea!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 12:21PM
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Well, there they go. This particular spot needs work. The soil is dry and depleted of organic material.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 9:42AM
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Idchall_san_antonio earlier asked if they have any natural predators. I assume chickens would have a field day with them. ChickenCoupe..do you know?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 9:56AM
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Chickens definitely will eat them, but I find that some chickens don't. Have raised several generations of chickens, each group seems a little different in the choice of insects and plants that they will eat. It's almost like they learn from each other, and if none of them ate a new kind of plant or bug and found it was "good", then the rest of them don't either.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 12:29PM
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