You may remember playing in your yard as a child and picking up small bugs that slowly roam around in the dirt under potted plants and such. They’re almost the closest thing to a dinosaur that you have witnessed and these land-crustaceans, also known as pill bugs, are the best recognized for their habits of rolling into a tight ball when they are disturbed. This is the reason why they have been given their other common name “roly-poly” and are easily recognized, especially by gardeners and children. Pill bugs are actually not insects but they are arthropods and are closely related to other crustaceans like lobster, shrimp, crawfish, and etc. and can also be related to other arthropods like centipedes and millipedes. They can be found all over the world, including the United States and do not pose as a real threat to people and animals.>> Read More
Adult pillbugs are about 7 to 15 mm long. They are known for their hard exoskeleton that is segmented. Their oval shape gives them their common name, pill bug. There is a hard convex that covers their body and underneath, they are very flat or even almost hollow. Fully matured pill bugs are a slate gray color. They have seven pairs of legs and 2 pairs of antennae. The first pair is extremely small and the other pair is readily visible and bent that sticks out of their heads. Usually, their uropoda, which is the pair of appendages on the rear end of their bodies, are short and rounded and many times, it is not visible from the aerial view.
Pill bugs undergo a simple metamorphosis which means that they will molt as they develop into a fully matured bug. The eggs that are produced by the pillbugs are deposited and hatch inside a brood pouch that is located on the underside of the body. Usually, it takes about 45 days for the egg to fully develop, hatch, and then for the young to fully emerge from the brood pouch. A pill bug can hold around 30 young in its brood pouch and there are about a total of 1 to 3 broods in one year. As soon as they emerge from the pouch, the young pillbugs begin to develop and will go through their first molt within 24 hours. They will molt again in another 14 to 18 days and then will molt again at irregular times, which depends on the availability of food. Once they are fully developed, adult pill bugs can live up to about 2 years, although there have been some reports of pillbugs living longer than that.
Pill bugs are unable to survive in dry areas are actually confined to areas that have high moisture content. This is primarily because of their physical biology. Pill bugs actually lack a closing device for their respiratory system. Also, unlike other arthropods, they lack the waxy outer layer on the exoskeleton which prevents water loss. These attributes restrain them from leaving areas of high moisture and make them incapable of surviving in any other area.
Because too much activity during the day promotes water loss, pillbugs remain inactive and hidden under protected materials during the day. They can be found in specific areas that obtain moisture content like under trash bins, boards, rocks, flower pots, flower-bed mulch, grass clippings, and etc.
Unless there is a huge population located on the outside, there is high moisture content, and an adequate food supply, pill bugs will not move indoors because of their incapability to survive in dry areas. They cannot survive for more than a few days.
Pill bugs feed on decaying organic matter and are considered scavengers. Usually, they will feed on decaying plant matter; however, if there is no adequate food source available, they will occasionally feed on decomposing animal matter as well. Pill bugs do not present a health threat and cannot cause structural or significant agricultural damage. Sometimes, they may hurt young plants but will not feed on them enough to kill them.
One of the most effective ways to control pill bugs is through prevention. In order to try and prevent pill bug infestations is to make sure to eliminate any sources of moisture than can provide an area of survival. Such materials as grass clippings, leaf litter, lumber, flower pots and stored boxes should be removed from the ground. Also, such places like crawl spaces and basements should be given adequate ventilation.
An appropriately labeled pesticide can be applied to the outer perimeter of buildings, foundation walls, in unfinished basements, crawlspaces, and flower or ornamental plant beds. For long residuals, usually, wet-able powders and microencapsulated formulas will work the best. You can also apply an appropriately labeled dust insecticide in restricted areas like the crawl space and unfinished basements.
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