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pill bugs/ roly-polys

Posted by
Jill
(KLLAYER@MSN.com) on
Sun, Sep 24, 00 at 12:36

I've read the thread on these bugs already....didn't find
anything useful. Has anyone found a way to keep these
critters off newly planted seedling? They have stripped
the leaves off my broccoli and chewed my lettuce into
mush - and it IS pill bugs, I'm picking them off the stems and leaves of these plants. My yard is over-populated with
them, and after rain they just get worse. Is there a remedy
to this problem????


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Entrapment is the only thing that comes to mind. As with earwigs and slugs you could place damp boards around the garden for them to hide under for shelter. Then in daytime do a little dance to stomp them out, repeat as necessary to reduce the populations to manageable size. No poisons required, vgkg


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I realize you are convinced they are the culprits but have you done an after dark slug/snail patrol and, given the crops under attack, a cabbage looper check too. Sow bugs will prey on cabbage looper and will often follow slime trails eating the slug slime while it is the slugs eating your plants at night or the almost invisible loopers eating it in the daytime. Sow bugs have mouths smaller than the head of a pin. It would take a 100 of them working in conjunction for several hours to do even noticeable damage to a leaf of the average seedling that is large enough to be transplanted to the garden.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Killing little sow bugs?? But they are so cute. I must have something wrong with me because I save them from death when I can. They eat some of the things I classify as undesirable in my garden. Ok, those of you that find them appalling or have too many of them, I'm sorry. At this point I have to agree with Judy. We have them in damp areas all throughout my flowers, strawberries, etc. They have never been the culprit destroyers.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Have you gone out between 10:00 pm & Midnight to see if any night pest is doing the damage? Pill bugs do eat plant matter, but only after that plant matter is already sick, diseased, stressed, or dying.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Sow/pill bugs may eat living plants (I'm not sure of that) when they can't find any dead plant material. If they are your culprit, providing a layer of mulch (grass clippings, leaves, compost, etc) should distract them from living plants. Living plants would be a do-or-die diet for sow bugs.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Jon is right. I've never read anything stating that pill bugs or sow bugs (they are two different bugs) eat healthy, living plant material. Slugs would be my bet.

To trap sow bugs/pill bugs and slugs...put some beer out near your veggies overnight. I use a wooden bowl so the slugs can crawl right in and drown (they have a hard time getting across plastic and metal I understand).

You can also search this forum and the Organic Gardening forum for plenty of natural (non-pesticide) methods of battling the pests mentioned in this thread. But I don't think the roly-polys are your problem - they're just cleaning up after the problem.

- Rob


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I live in the Pacific Northwest and have to say that this has got to be the pill bug (aka "potato bug") capital of the world! I'm not usually afraid of bugs, but there are SO MANY of them in my yard that they give me a strong helping of the creeps! I had a run in with hordes of them in the folds of a yucca plant that is still making my skin crawl at this very moment. At least please tell me they are beneficial. I don't like to kill anything unless I have to (such as the malevolent slug!), so I usually leave the pill bugs alone. As far as I can tell, they've never disturbed the plants they've infested.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Pillbugs/sowbugs do eat the leaves of living plants, even if there is mulch or dead plant matter available, and can virtually defoliate seedlings or newly set out transplants (more mature plants are generally left alone). I had never seen this happen before moving to SE Texas, but rest assured that it does (I have seen them clustering on plants in the act of chewing and devouring them). Maybe we have a regionally voracious species, but they look just like the pillbugs I was used to (and were harmless) in northern gardens. I am still testing out control methods, but one that does not work is diatomaceous earth, which is supposed to mechanically disrupt their nasty little bodies. Instead, they happily crawl through it and nibble on plant leaves dusted in it.


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update: pill bugs/ roly-polys

As a semi-desperation move, I tried spraying malathion on and around new transplants. So far, so good....no new damage and far fewer pillbugs in sight. As soon as the plants harden off with less succulent growth, it shouldn't be necessary to spray further.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Sow bugs do indeed eat newly set out plants in southeastern Nebraska!! I have set out two sets of vinkas and they attack and eat and kill the plants. I just checked my new plantings and I can see the plants moving and when I dig below the soils surface; guest what's there? They collar the stem like chopping a large tree and then topple it. They also eat the floweres and leaves. I am trying Seven because that is what my extention office told me to try. I probably give-up if they destroy this planting.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I consider pillbugs something of the 'jackals' of the bug world, after the 'lions & tigers' have started the damage (snails, slugs and earwigs) they will come in and finish the job. This happened with one of my 'Mrs. Henry Cox' pelargoniums. Pulling the mulch away from the base of the plant, I found lots of little pills, one night of Bug-Geta I found the primary culprit--a good sized snail--dropped in its tracks, along with his little buddies.
I, like Susie, sort of like the little critters, especially when I find a blue one, but nothing comes between me and my garden and sticks around long.
Ortho Bug-Geta Plus is easy to apply around sensitive plants, done in the evening, you'll find the culprits in the morning. Dusting transplants with Sevin dust, or spraying works well, too.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I have also been battling these little bugs. They are every conceivable place in my patios. My garden is mostly in containers. I have tried yeast in water, bug-getta, spray, etc. I have even lined the outside of my pots with copper sheets to keep the snails away. My problem is when I water I wash off the sprays and have to do it in a.m. before I water again in p.m. I am now going to try to put Cayanne pepper around my pots. By the way I caught only one snail with my yeast. I will try beer next time. Has anyone tried Cayanne pepper? Thanks for some of the other helpful hints.I thought I was the only one invaided by pill bugs/roly-polys.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Whenever I see roly-polys earwigs are close by. If it ain't snails my bet is earwigs. Go out at midnight. Take a soap/water/alcohol solution in a sprayer with you (search for recipes, plenty on the forum). luck!


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

sowbugs are the ones that roll up whereas pillbugs do not
pillbugs have two tiny tailets at the end of there botdy and
do not posses any ability to roll up the sowbugs will attack
living plant material whereas pillbugs will eat what sowbugs
damage i have a 2 colonies of half pill bugs and half sowbugs each and the pillbugs are extremely quick but sowbugs are slow armored tanks with voracious appitites that will mow down almost anything. I have a plant in one colony well its a weed that came from my backyard but they still puncture tiny holes in the center of a leaf and eat outward in a cirular paturn i suggest a small plastic 1 1/2ft. fence around your garden the fence musnt have holes though and then place ten toads in it. A toads stomach is like elastic and they will eat even after theve doubled in size so you wont have to worry about them getting full


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I have loads of trouble with pillbugs. I have been putting toads into areas that have a problem with them. It seems to be helping. Just provide a shady place for your toads if they are not realy shady plants yet, andmake sure the water you leave for them cannot get hot. They can boil themselves in sun warmed water.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

One method for control of any ground crawler is to apply diatamacious earth. I have had good success with DT for ant control, I believe it will help with rolly-pollys as well.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I have read the information on trying to contain sowbugs. I have a real infestation in my butterfly bushes, their leaves are totally perforated. Very frustrating as I do not want to use poison, especially considering my cats always drink the run off from my plants. We had one sweet kitty die of Kidney damage, I am not sure where she encountered chemicals, possibly licked anti-freeze off the driveway if it dripped. Another thing I was concerned about was I had toilet tablets in my tank and they drink from there. And definitely yes, sowbugs do eat your flowers and vegetables, especially tomatoes if they are lying on the ground. I have pulled them out of them. They multiply like crazy and you can see them at night. I hand pick slugs but the bugs roll up and there are too many.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

We call them wood bugs where I live. They roll into little balls when they are disturbed. I go out every day to check my strawberries, and lift the ripening berries off the ground. I try to hook the stems over or on top of leaves. If I don't do this, they will hollow out the berries in no time. Today I went to pick the largest , juiciest looking berry of the season, only to find a fat wood bug had almost completely eaten out the inside of it. The greedy bug was still in there filling his face, so he couldn't blame it on the slugs!


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Hi,

I'm sorry to bring up this post again...Last year was my first garden in our new house. The sow bugs were overwhelming. We had to pick our tomatoes green, or plan on cutting out the section the sow bugs were living in. They burrowed in right at the stem. Now I have a worm bin which is LOADED with the pests. Last weekend I found thousands of them in all the corners of my worm box...attached is a photo of one of the corners. I scooped them out and threw them in a bucket of water, but does anyone know WHY they would be congregating on the vertical sides of my worm bin? I'm getting ready to plant this years garden and am worried about being overrun again. I have never mulched a vegetable garden before, but I have 4 or 5 compost piles throughout the areas...there is PLENTY for them to eat..they just seem to prefer my tomatoes. Would the mulch under the plants deter them?

Thank you!!

Kathy

Here is a link that might be useful: sow bugs in my worm box


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Golly, I wish I had that many pillbugs! My koi love them, and it would be so much easier than looking under all those rocks and boards.
NOT!
True, my koi love them, and my chickens, as well, but they've done much followup damage to my perennials.
My favorite method of control is the Ortho Bug-Geta Plus, which takes care of the big four: slugs, snails, earwigs and pillbugs.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I keep 4 welsh harlequin (egg-laying) ducks, who love nothing more than to seek out and munch roly-polys from the mulch layer. They turn them and many other bugs (including cutworms, yahoo!) into rich droppings for my garden. And its a blast to see them at "work".


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I can also attest to the fact that sow bugs eat seedlings. I planted squash and cantelope three times last year, and finally resorted to putting "collars" around where I planted the seeds to keep them out for the most part. It definitely was not due to a lack of dead stuff because I mulch and compost. I haven't found anything effective to reduce their numbers to a manageable level. I now just use the collars.
Mrs H


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I have a question regarding these pill bugs. We just moved into a new house (not knowing it was infested with these bugs). Our problem is not only are we finding some in the house but in the pool as well. At first I thought there were some kind of berries in the pool fropm a tree and when I started sweeping the pool, they turned out to be thousands of these pill bugs at the bottom of the pool. I'm not exaggerating of the amount. I couldn't believe how many were at the bottom of the pool. Is there anything I can do to keep them away and out of the pool? Also, are they attracted to fruit trees? We have orange and banana trees around the pool area. Please help I don't want my children and I to swim with a city of bugs.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I used to have a horrible problem with pillbugs. No more. I have 2 khaki campbell ducks and a rooster who thinks he's a duck. They have good manners in the garden and I have few bugs or slugs.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

what ever you call them, they do eat young tender plants. They would eat every young plant I put out if I didn't stop them. I have heard cornmeal stops them but haven't tried that.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

5/31/03 I have read the entire posting on pill bugs/rolly pollys or whatever. Early this spring I completely removed all dirt and compost from a large bed for the purpose of putting in a different type of composted bed. I removed some scrubs from another area and brought that large bed up to grade with a composted bedding mix. I have replanted both area. The pill bugs think that the Impatients were put there just for them. I called my friend, Malcolm Beck, with Garden-Ville in San Antonio and asked him what to do about them, and leaf hoppers, and thrips---the organic way. DE doesn't affect them (pill bugs). I have used Garrett Juice, Garlic Pepper Tea (Miestro Gro), Neem, a mixture of Orange Oil, Garlic Pepper Tea, and Compost Tea, and I sprayed one time with Orange Oil 1.5oz. per gal of water. The leafhoppers return after a while, the Thrips came with the Verbina, I think--from Lowe's, and should be killed with any of these. The Thrip suck the life out of Verbina, and the pill bugs eat roots of succulent young plants. Seem to leave my new bushes and shrubs alone. I am beginning to think that the way to control these critters is with repeated treatments until it gets really hot, and it gets really hot in College Station, Texas right soon, ya'll. It was 95+ yesterday with 85% humidity. Sorry, don't think I can push myself to use Orthene. I have not used major pesticides on animals for years and my personal dogs and cats only get Frontline as needed. Jim Wilson, DVM


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I have been trying to rid my potted plants, and hopefully my yard, of pill bugs. In searching for information, I found this thread.

I grew up calling them potato bugs, and I loved them (note the past tense!) My mother calls them pill bugs. My father calls them doodlebugs (which is also what he called me when I was little!) My children call them roly polies. Judging by my family, the Internet, & this thread, they have a multitude of monikers!

I have developed an intense hatred for them. A few years back, I brought home some showy sedum from my aunt's home(she called it century plant.) It had grown from cuttings taken from the garden at my childhood home. My parents sold that home years ago; the plant was very special to me.

It was also special to the pill bugs. They devoured it. It was very healthy, and I have tons of mulch and decaying matter all over the place for the benefit of my plants. The pill bugs wanted that plant, and they ate it to death. Literally.

They moved into a large pot of small elephant ears and ate through the roots. They killed almost all of them. In 5-gallon pot with a good 50-75 leaves bursting from it every year, I now have one very, very small bulb trying to make it. The rest are completely dead. The dirt was FILLED with pill bugs.

I have a gigantic elephant ear bulb in the ground. You can see the holes from the pill bugs chewing through & coming in and out. We thought the plant was dead because nothing was growing from it. A good 2 months after we normally would see growth, we finally spotted a small shoot. It is now growing off to the side of the main bulb. I think the main bulb is dead. It is now brown, powdery, and producing no shoots.

They have since started on another sedum I have. It was potted, and a toad had made a home in the pot. I thought he was responsible for the deterioration of the plant. I kept an eye on the plant, and I kept picking up the broken pieces and sticking them back in the dirt. It was then I realized that they were falling off because they were weakened by the feasting pill bugs.

The bugs bore into the stems (or bulbs) and create little pill-bug-sized holes, and they eat up through the middle of the stems. If I find time, I'll take a picture of the elephant ear root and the sedum stems and post them later.

For those of you who, like me, have seen proof that the pill bugs are destructive and want to get rid of them, I got this information from one site:

Loosely roll up a damp newspaper and tie it with string, placing it where bugs camp. During the night, they crawl inside, then dispose of them and the newspaper. Repeat until they are under control.

The link I have included is from a pest control company. They have information on the pill bugs & sow bugs, among others. At the top of the page, you can click on the "sow bugs" link for information on the differences between the two. You can also go to dictionary.reference.com and enter pill bug. It will give you more names and usage information.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pill bugs, Sow bugs


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

This morning I found hundreds of sow bugs looking for high ground after a rain. I searched the web for something to kill them and found this this discussion. Now my plan is to try, just before a rain, putting out cardboard egg cartons (with a rock on top to keep them from blowing away in the wind) for the sow bugs to hide under, then, after the rain, putting the egg cartons in the compost bin or the trash bin.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

We've had problems with Rollie Pollies too. My wife and I implemented what we learned from the Dirt Doctor's book and it is working great! Set out small containers (we used small coffee cups) in the problem areas. Place the cups down in the ground so that the brim is at or barely above ground level. Boil water with two packets of yeast in a medium-sized pot to dissolve the yeast. Pour the yeast solution (FYI - you can use beer also, but the yeast packets are really cheap) into the cups. Put covers over the containers to keep rain water (yard water) and other elements from diluting the solution. We used small cheap water retainers that you put below small pots and put a few rocks on top of the retainers to keep them from blowing away. You'll get rid of pesty snails, rollie pollies and beatles (but not lady bugs). And if you have a lot you need to get rid of quick, Seven dust works great.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Is it safe to use Seven dust on vegetables?

The rollie pollies have been devouring my sedums and hostas (even with copper strips around them), as well as the tomato and potato leaves that are touching the ground. They don't appear to be eating my jalapeno's, cilantro, artemesia, or anything with a pungent scent.

Several people have mentioned moist conditions, but we still have thousands all over our yard (even where we don't water) and we haven't had a decent rain here in the Texas Panhandle since April (not an ideal climate for snails, either.)

We did however mix composted manure into the two beds that have the infestations (this manure was wet and slimy.) These beds also received generous helping of composted cotton boll (sp?) as mulch. The one bed that is not infested did not get the same type of composted manure (this was dry and crumbly like soil should be.) I used pea gravel as mulch for this bed. Is this similar to anybody else's experience?


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I have a lot of these rollie pollies too. I tried killing them with bug spray, but that didn't work. I just stepped on them and smashed them with the rake. YUCKY! I know I didn't kill them all. I have pumpkin seeds planted as well as a baby avocado tree and a baby lemon tree in the area that I see these bugs. My pumpkin seeds haven't sprouted yet and I'm getting concerend that the bugs will chew on them when they do. We also have our new compost bin started and they are getting into the old sod thats decomposing. I want to kill them. How?


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Someone try BT. My tomato plants were looking very weak back in April and I began my BT applications for catapillars, even though I suspected the huge amount of pill bugs in the mulch under the tomatoes. My tomatoes recouperated and are now producing huge crops. (desert Az area). Inadvertantly, while inspecting my cantaloupe recently, I had huge infestations of pill bugs under every melon. I went back to the tomato patch and dug around, and found no pill bugs. (lighbulb!!!). I sprayed my cantaloupe all around the melons and directly on the ground under the vines with BT and no pill bugs the next day. Someone try it and confirm this experiment.
By the way, the earwigs main diet is aphids. I have far more crop damage from aphids than earwigs, so I'll keep them as beneficials. Also, this year has been the best season ever for my garden and the only control I have used is the BT. I even used it on my corn silk. It worked. I usually have 100% infestation from corn borers and have to pick the corn a bit immature. This Year, as soon as they started appearing, I went through my patch and force sprayed each indiviual corn silk (breaking the husk a little with my thumb) with BT. It took me about 1.5 hours to spray around 450 stalks. It was worth it. I still had the initial tip damage, but the corn matured properly and I only found 4 live borers.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Integrated Pest Management should be about first determaning if the suspected insect is what is actually causing the damage (it really probably is not these crustaceans, relatives of crawfish and lobsters), is the damage really unaccetable so I have to do something sbout it, and if I have to do something about it what is the least toxic something I can use at first to control what the problem is. First choice of products to use should never be Malathion, Sevin, or any other of the broad spectrum pesicides, including Neem, out there.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

It appears to me that very rich soil with a lot of mulch supports a large population of pill bugs that then are voracious enough to take on tender seedlings. For a long time I refused to believe the pill bug destruction claims, but I have seen them devastate my bean seedlings. I have looked at all hours and the only critter is the pill bugs, and they are often just covering them.

The BT suggestion is intriguing. I will try it soon.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Bacillus thuringiensis - Kurstaki is not a product that will have any effect on pill bugs and using it to conrol them is a waste of your money, time, and energy. BTK works on some leaf eating caterpillars at an early stage of their life and spreading it willy nilly and at the wrong time will help those thingys that are susceptible to it develop an immunity, just as many of the insect pests are developing immunity to many other products that once controlled them.
That someone thinks BTK controls pillbugs is an indication of why many people think the pillbugs are the ones causing the garden problem, they simply are not looking deep enough to see what is really happening.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I too did not realize sow bugs were plant eaters till I found them all over my very chewed pansies, especially on the disappearing flowers, just an hour ago, about 2 a.m. A few earwigs, snails and slugs were joining in on the feast. I don't like BT because it might kill the caterpillars of butterflies, which I love.

I plan to use the suggestion to put out rolled-up newspapers. Tonight I just picked off the culprits and threw them over the fence into the big meadow of the wildlife refuge there. Anybody got a recipe for Orange Oil or Garlic Pepper Tea, mentioned by one of the respondents?


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Pill bugs DO attack living plants, even when there is decaying plant material within (arthropod) reach. They have been busy turning my potato plants into doilies and particularly like munching away at stem junctions. I suspect they yell "timber" when the stem drops. The problem, as in much of life, is supply and demand. There can be too great a supply of pill bugs and they ignore my demands to go away. Not entirely. The best methods I have found for controlling them are grapefruit rinds (slugs and pill bugs munch them to nothing in preference to other vittles and consider them a good place to live), removing mulch and decaying plant material from around the plants under attack, less frequent and deeper watering to let the ground dry out, and shop vacs. Shop vacs work quite well. Pill bugs are related to shrimp, but are not as good with cocktail sauce.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

HELP! Yes, I've been watching the pill or sow bugs for the past few years and here in the Hill Country area there are alot, and they are voracious eaters! They are not just attacking live, green, young plants. My problem has been bushes. They are in the soil (yes, they are) and eat the roots and move into the wood of my butterfly bush, salvias, butterfly weeds and other plants. I just lost the rest of my butterfly bush (it was 5 years old). I pulled pieces of it easily from the ground and found fire ants, a few snails and TONS of pill bugs! I did not know that they would be in the soil. I thought they lived above the soil under wood. Boy was I wrong and have i paid dearly the past few years. How do I get rid of them?


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

**Heres how to get rid of them!*
I've also lost quite a few seedlings to roly polly's. After searching numberous forums and sites to be told "they aren't really eating your plants" i've came up with a method. Heres how i've kept them under control: Beer traps DO work, you will find slugs/roly poly's and earwigs. The roly poly's check it out, fall in, die. ALSO, i've used petrolum jelly on the stems, they will still munch on the leaves a bit but no more dead seedlings. Got any left over veggies, orange peels etc? toss them in your yard, check it later (night or morning)it should now be covered with roly poly's and slugs... squish to your hearts content, or toss it in the trash.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Roly Polys eat tomatoes and strawberries, I can vouch for that. Used coffee grounds seem to attract them.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I read every message on this thread. My 2c worth. I don't know why the idea that pillbugs don't eat fruit etc. continues to hang on. Maybe because people, like me, want to like them. I grew up with them. They don't bite or sting and are gentle little guys. They need to eat just like the rest of us and that doesn't make them evil.

That said, IMO they will completely devour your garden fruit like strawberries, melons, tomatoes if allowed to. We've had a frustrating time with pillbugs (and earwigs), probably our two biggest pests in years past (though this year I've not noticed many earwigs in the garden). Especially on the strawberries, I can go out there at any time of day and find every ripe berry covered with pillbugs and gaping holes. If that's not eating them I don't know what is. Who knows, maybe they are just eating the leftovers from nocturnal pests as some pople insist, and I'm no entomologist, but every indication is they are the culprits. We had watermelon crop a couple of years back and would find them underneath them filling large eaten-out holes. This year I'm more serious about our garden and am not in a mood to simply sacrifice an entire crop. I am going to try some suggestions from above, re:the cup or container filled with yeast water/beer and the wet rolled up newspaper.

BTW, some people say that if you have plenty of compost around the rollys will stay off the fruit but our strawberries are in a bed of horse manure. Lot's of worms. Still the rollies prefer the berries.

By the way, I would NEVER use a systemic (it goes all through the plant) synthetic pesticide like Sevin or any other non-organic anywhere around anything my family is going to eat.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Do the pillbugs eating your garden look like this one?

(Thank goodness that one is aquatic!)

One thing to consider is that the pollies are often getting guilt by association. Namely, because their preferred diet is rotting organic matter -- i.e., dead stuff. For example, the person who had their butterfly bush dying, pulled it up, and found pillbugs: well, isn't that what you'd expect if it was dying of *any* cause?

It might be interesting if someone did an experiment -- caught a bunch of pillbugs, put them in containers with various foods available to them, and determined what they ate. And also checked to see if the number of pillbugs present affected what ate what.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I've been having a bad time with them here in north central Texas, too -- diatomaceous earth seems to help a little but not a whole lot, currently they're devouring my calendula seedlings (I just went out there and had to pick 3 or 4 of them off every single seedling) and hollyhock leaves. I'm going to try the beer AND newspaper traps -- THANKS for all the good advice, everyone.

Seems to me that the problem factor of these bugs depends on where you live -- I read somewhere it may have to do with the amount of organic matter that naturally occurs in the soil, if you have clay soil without a lot of natural organic matter (as we do where I live), the pillbugs are starving and voracious, and will attack your seedlings. I can vouch for the fact that they certainly DO eat healthy plants in my garden.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Well I've been trying the yeast/water beer method and it does work, lots of rolys and slugs. It seems to work best if I water first to get that out of the way, early in the morning, then put in container with the water/yeast or beer (or uncover it, BTW it's buried so that the top is near ground level) and let things dry out the rest of the day. Since rolys and slugs need moisture they are then drawn to the water/beer. I haven't tried the wet rolled up newspaper yet. I do still find some little rolys that are ignoring it and staying with the strawberries but it seems to be a lot less. I have to wonder though just how many containers of this you'd need to have if you have a large area that is being eaten. Our strawberry patch is maybe 4'x4'.

I do feel a sense of guilt though, especially if the rolys aren't the actual culprits as some insist. If I find a bug in the house I'm not the kind to smash it but to catch it and put it outside, so... I'm going to try the wet newspaper idea too and see what that gets. I can just relocate those.

Oh and karenrei, holy cow.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Well, I've been using the rolled up newspaper idea. It definitely works ... at least for earwigs. Earlier I said that I hadn't noticed many earwigs. Since then we've had an explosion of 'em. I roll up a page of newsprint hide it under the strawberries next to a wall of the planter (bugs seem to like to congregate there) in a place where the paper can still get wet (they seem to prefer wet to dry) and viola! I've gotten up to a hundred a morning which I place in a container and dispose of in the field next to us as far from the garden as practical. The pill bugs though don't go in the paper much. Maybe because they don't want to hang out with earwigs. I also notice that I'm not getting many pillbugs in the yeast water. Could be they've figured it out or the proximity of the earwigs which have been going in the water is keeping them away. But pillbugs are still there. Maybe not as many.

I also noticed another strawberry eater, blue jays. Saw one going down into the berries and I though that he was going to fish bugs. No such luck, he flew out with a strawberry in his mouth. So I've been also putting some wire down on top of the berries. It's held up by the walls of the planter so as not to crush the plant. Oh, did I mention that we also have slugs in there. They're all out to get our strawberries! Could be a good test of non-pesticide methods. So far we are getting more berries.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Pill bugs have invaded our vegetable garden. This year we decided to mulch the garden, which I'm sure contributed to the arrival of the little dudes. We didn't mulch last year and had not a one.

Anyway....They, along with a contingent of caterpillars are feasting on my Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bell pepper, okra, and the low-hanging leaves of my tomato plants.

I plan on trying the yeast-in-a-cup solution, after I treat immediately with some Sevin Dust. Theyre way out of control

Also - I've seen a good bit of debate on the web regarding whether or not pill bugs eat live vegetation. The ones here in Castroville, Texas sure do.

Here are two photos from this morning of a gang of pill bugs on my purple cabbage plant. Doesn't look like they're playing cards ;-)

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_P3lmM59wWMc/S-bfQmUjQjI/AAAAAAAAD_A/XaFWH-iwDKI/s1600/DSC_0039sm.jpg

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_P3lmM59wWMc/S-bfQFKMmgI/AAAAAAAAD-4/qa0zze8FTtY/s1600/DSC_0036sm.jpg


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I am using Cayenne Pepper, and I'll post and let you know if I find it's working..I would think anything would turn away from cayenne. Pill bugs are in abundance this year for some reason, coming inside the house, climbing the brick walls.
I found a gazillion and babies in the soil when I pulled up some onions.. My pepper plants disappeared, and I firmly believe these pill bugs are eating them away. No way could I just kill them by hand til they're gone..it would take a lifetime..there are too many. I don't mind them being there if they are good for the soil, but They Do climb..I hope we find a solution fast.. I guess I'll try to find some of that DE stuff...until then..more cayenne to the rescue!


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Effective Organic Control to use is Diatect V. This is from the Natural Gardener website:

Protect your new vegetable transplants from trouble.
Have you ever had a wonderful day of gardening only to return the next morning to find half your transplants have been cut off at the base? Well, there are two possible culprits, the cutworm or pill bugs (aka rolly-pollies). A cutworm is a caterpillar that lives in the soil and will wrap itself around a new transplant at the base and cut it off. You can either protect the plant with a collar around the base or place a stick next to the stem so the cutworm will wrap around the stick along with the stem and not be able to cut through. Once the plant is established, the cutworm is not affective.

The Pill Bug will gnaw at the base of a seedling or a new transplant. Once the seedling or transplant is established, the pill bug will generally leave the plant alone, so you need to be diligent about protection for only a short period of time. First for pill bug control keep the area on the drier side. Water early in the morning. This allows the top part of the soil to dry before night, when the pill bugs are active. Also keep mulch away from plants during this period of time. In the evening dust with Diatect V, diatomaceous earth (D.E.) and pyrethrin, around base of plants. Set up boards, grapefruit halves or banana peels as traps for the pill bugs and scoop them up every morning and dump into soapy water to get the population down. Pill bugs, like many pests, have their place in life as decomposers of dead plants or weak plants, so control is only needed during the early stages of the plant's life. The rest of the time let the pill bugs do their work.

Roger and John have been doing tests here at the nursery and have been having great success with the certified organic pesticide Diatect V. It is a mixture of Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) and pyrethrin. It does not have piperonyl butoxide as many other D.E./ Pyrethrin mixes do. Some of the harder to control bugs that we have success with include four-line bugs, squash bugs, stink bugs, harlequin bugs and other hard-shell bugs. It is best applied with an applicator to really get the dust where the bugs are - on the underside of leaves and the ground where they jump when they are disturbed. We have several different types. Rogers and Johns favorites include the pest pistol, which is a simple accordion style pump bottle, and the dustin-mizer which is a hand-crank applicator that electrically charges the dust particle so it is attracted and sticks the plant - a must for large gardens. When you apply this product, you must take care not to inhale the very sharp silica particles of the D.E.

Here is a link that might be useful: Organic pest control


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

First, contrary to what some roly poly lovers say, roly polys definitely will eat tender seedlings, leaves touching the ground, and any strawberries or tomatoes touching the ground. Just because they might also eat decayed vegetation doesn't mean they won't eat live vegetation and fruit.
To avoid the seedling problem I start all seeds in pots and transplant them to the garden when they get big enough and tough enough to withstand a roly poly attack.
Snail killer will also kill them, place a ring of the granules around a tender seedling to protect it.
BTW, you might not know it but some types of large earthworms will also eat live vegetation, and even drag chunks of it into their burrows.
I never saw an earwig doing anything but damage, particularly eating lettuce and swiss chard. They even killed a dogwood tree in our backyard in NY when hundreds of them got under the bark and ate the cambrium layer.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I'm not sure why someone would resurrect a 10 year old post instead of posting a new one, but the first part of Integrated Pest Management is understanding the "pest" you have and taking steps to control them, if that is necessary, that do not include poisons first. Everyone that has studied Pill Bugs, Sow Bugs, Roly-Polys, Wood Lice, or what ever has concluded they are essentially harmless, although sometimes they may eat living plants.
If you have a good healthy garden there will be natural poredators of these wee ctitters that will aid in keeping them under control. If they are abundant enough to be pests then you need to look at the why.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

kimmsr - Thank goodness I finally have some backup. I've been getting a lot of flak on some of the other boards for cautioning against using Neem as an area spray over the entire garden. How they think a spray, organic or not, knows the difference between a bad bug and a good bug is beyond me. It's almost as though there is a cult of Saint Neem out there.
Neem is great stuff when used as a spot spray on a limited area where things get out of hand on one or two plants but it can do a lot of harm if sprayed willy nilly.


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

Diatect V is made of pyrethrins, certainly a plant derived poison but a very broad spectrum poison still that should not be the first thing one reaches for. Integrated Pest Managementy is not about grabbing the most potent stuff you can to spray about to control what are essentially wee critters that are normally not problems. IPM is about learning about the insects in your garden and IF there is a need for control starting with the least toxic means available (sometimes simply changing the habitat).


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

I just found this post and can vouch for roly-polies doing in many of my seedlings - annoying creatures!! I thought I had found how to solve the problem with little bowls beer all over my garden. Unfortunately the coons discovered the beer and they drink it and throw the bowls all over the garden. Must have been quite a party!!


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RE: pill bugs/ roly-polys

What I find is that most peoples understanding of these (Pill Bus, Roly Polys, Woodlice, potato bugs, etc.) is quite limited and most of the information posted on the internet has been posted by people with products meant to kill them and so that information is suspect.
These wee buggers need cool, most environments to live in and prefer to eat dead, decaying organic matter but they will eat plant material that is not dead or decaying if given the opportunity. More often then not something other than the Pill Bug, Sow Bug, or what ever other name you use, is not the one that damaged the plant initially and they are most likely there to clean up.


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