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Sowbugs Facts and Information

Appearance: Sowbugs, also known as woodlice or pillbugs, are small, oval-shaped crustaceans belonging to the Isopoda order. They have a segmented exoskeleton and seven pairs of legs, which they use to move in a slow, crawling manner. Sowbugs are usually dark gray or brown in color and measure around 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length. 

Habitat: Sowbugs prefer damp and dark environments, such as under leaf litter, rocks, logs, and decaying organic matter. They are commonly found in gardens, flower beds, and basements, as well as in moist outdoor areas like under stones and mulch. 

Diet: Sowbugs are detritivores, meaning they feed on decaying plant material and organic matter. They also consume fungi and algae. They play a crucial role in the ecosystem by breaking down decaying matter and contributing to nutrient recycling. 

Life Cycle: Sowbugs undergo a simple metamorphosis with three stages: egg, nymph, and adult. The female sowbug carries her eggs in a brood pouch called a marsupium until they hatch into tiny nymphs. The nymphs resemble small versions of adults and go through a series of molts as they grow into mature sowbugs. 

While sowbugs might enter homes in search of moisture, they are generally harmless to humans. In their natural outdoor habitat, they contribute to the decomposition process and help maintain a healthy ecosystem. However, if their numbers become excessive in indoor areas, it’s essential to address any moisture issues and use physical barriers to prevent their entry.

FAQs About Sowbugs

How did I get Sowbugs?

Sowbugs, also known as woodlice or pillbugs, commonly enter homes and indoor areas through small cracks, gaps, or openings in walls, doors, and windows. They are attracted to moisture and are often found in damp environments, so they might enter your home in search of water or shelter. 

Some common ways sowbugs can get inside your home include: 

  • Openings and Gaps: Sowbugs can crawl through tiny cracks in the foundation, walls, or gaps around doors and windows. 
  • Moisture: If your home has areas with high humidity or moisture issues, such as damp basements or leaky pipes, sowbugs may be attracted to these conditions. 
  • Plants or Mulch: Sowbugs might hitch a ride indoors on potted plants, soil, or mulch brought from outside. 
  • Outdoor Access Points: If your home is located in close proximity to garden beds, woodpiles, or other outdoor areas where sowbugs thrive, they may find their way inside. 

To prevent sowbug infestations, seal any gaps or cracks around your home’s exterior, ensure proper drainage to prevent excess moisture, and keep indoor areas dry. Regularly inspect and clean damp areas, especially basements, to discourage sowbugs from entering your living spaces.

Are Sowbugs dangerous to humans and pets?

No, sowbugs are not dangerous to humans or pets. They do not bite, sting, or transmit diseases. Sowbugs are primarily detritivores, meaning they feed on decaying organic matter and do not seek out live plants or animals to harm. 

In fact, sowbugs play a beneficial role in the ecosystem by contributing to the decomposition process and nutrient recycling. They help break down decaying plant material, contributing to soil enrichment and supporting the overall balance of the environment. 

While sowbugs might enter homes in search of moisture or shelter, they do not cause any harm to humans or pets and are generally considered harmless pests. If you encounter sowbugs indoors, it’s best to address any moisture issues and use physical barriers to prevent their entry, rather than using chemical pesticides.

How can I prevent Sowbugs?

To prevent sowbugs from becoming a nuisance in your home or garden, consider implementing the following preventive measures: 

  • Seal Entry Points: Inspect your home for cracks, gaps, and openings in the foundation, walls, doors, and windows. Seal any potential entry points to prevent sowbugs from crawling inside. 
  • Proper Drainage: Ensure proper drainage around your home to prevent the accumulation of excess moisture. Fix any leaks in pipes or faucets and redirect water away from the foundation. 
  • Reduce Moisture: Keep indoor areas dry and well-ventilated. Repair any leaks in basements or crawl spaces, and use dehumidifiers if necessary. 
  • Elevate Garden Beds: If you have garden beds near your home, elevate them to create a barrier that discourages sowbugs from crawling inside. 
  • Remove Debris: Regularly clean up leaf litter, decaying plant material, and other organic debris from your garden and outdoor areas. 
  • Manage Mulch: Use a thin layer of mulch in garden beds rather than thick piles, as sowbugs are attracted to moist mulch. 
  • Natural Predators: Encourage natural predators of sowbugs, such as birds, toads, and ground beetles, which can help keep their populations in check. 
  • Physical Barriers: Create physical barriers, such as copper tape or diatomaceous earth, around vulnerable plants to deter sowbugs. 

By implementing these preventive measures, you can reduce the likelihood of sowbugs becoming a problem in your home or garden and create an environment less hospitable to these harmless pests.