More Rain Means More Pill Bugs – But Don’t Worry Too Much

Our Texas insect expert answers common questions about bugs.

By Laura RiceApril 14, 2017 10:57 am,

Pill bugs, also known as roly polies or isopods, aren’t normally considered pests. But when there’s a lot of rain, their populations can increase at fast rates and they do, sometimes, become an issue. Luckily, Wizzie Brown, an insect specialist with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Office has some tips on how to deal with them. The good news is: they are pretty harmless.

What are pill bugs? 

“They’re actually crustacean – so they’re related to shrimp, crabs, lobsters, all that stuff. But they are terrestrial so they live on land. But they need really moist habitats to live in. So the rain has been really conducive to their populations exploding this year as well. And that has led to them becoming a pest in certain situations.”

Can they damage my plants? 

“When we do have high numbers of them they can feed on plants and cause damage on certain things. Usually more seedlings than developed plants. And then the other thing is them moving indoors just trying to get out of the over-saturated moist areas.”

What if I see pill bugs in my home? 

“When they do get indoors they end up usually dying because there’s not enough moisture in there for them to survive. So sweep them up and chuck them. If you find them alive just throw them back outside and then if you do that make sure if you have something coming in like that you go outside and find out how they’re getting in and fix that and that should take care of the problem.”