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Pillbugs and sowbugs

By: Garden Gate staff
Here are two bugs that look almost identical — pillbugs and sowbugs.

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Pillbugs and sowbugs

IDENTIFICATION — Here are two bugs that look almost identical — pillbugs and sowbugs. The only difference seems to be that pillbugs roll into a ball when they’re frightened. Both go by many different names, such as roly-poly and wood lice. And they’re really not bugs at all — they’re crustaceans — they’re more closely related to crabs and lobsters. Adults can grow to 3/8 in. long.

DAMAGE — These bugs don’t really harm plants unless there are so many that the creatures need the food. Then they’ll feed on fine roots and stems of tender seedlings. Usually they’re scavengers, feeding on decaying plant material and hiding in dark, damp areas.

CONTROL — There’s no urgent need to control either one. But if you feel overrun, take away the critters’ hiding places. Remove dead plant material to the compost pile, get rid of boards and lift pots off the ground. These are some of their favorite spots.

Published: Oct. 20, 2009
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