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a close-up of a bug


Latin Name: Oniscidea

What Are Sowbugs?

Often confused with pill bugs (a.k.a. roly-polies), sowbugs are actually land-living crustaceans. They are the only crustaceans that have adapted to living exclusively on land. Unlike pill bugs, sowbugs cannot crawl into a ball when they feel threatened, nor can they fly or sting because of their posterior appendages. Instead, they rely on their hard exoskeleton to protect themselves from predators. They are typically ¼ to ½ inch in size and range from slate gray to dark brown. They have seven pairs of legs, two tail-like appendages, and two pairs of antennae. However, only one set is visible.

The Sowbug Life Cycle

Female sowbugs, unlike other insects, carry their eggs in a pouch underneath their body, where they remain for up to two months after hatching. Sowbugs go through three key developmental stages, from egg to nymph to adulthood. This lifecycle is known as simple metamorphosis. The young sowbugs do not leave their mother's pouch until they are nymphs. Development to adulthood typically occurs over a year, and sowbugs usually breed in spring. Most insects are seasonal and live less than a year. In comparison, the sowbug has a relatively long lifespan of up to three years. However, they certainly have nothing on the wood beetle, which can live up to 40 years! Female sowbugs may produce up to 3 broods, about 50 sowbugs annually.

Where Are Sowbugs Found?

Sowbugs, similar to pillbugs, are foraging pests that mainly feed on decaying organic matter, hence the nickname woodlouse. They are typically found in moist, outdoor environments, though they occasionally end up inside homes and other buildings. However, mulch, leaves, garden produce, and other plants may attract sowbugs into your home and yard. Often, these pests will enter homes through ground-level doors and windows. These pests may also make their way into garages or damp basements through structural cracks in homes. Since many areas in a home are too dry, the pests usually die after they come indoors, so signs of sowbugs in your home may indicate excessive moisture in the home through a like or wet wood.

How Do I Get Rid of Sowbugs?

Although they sometimes enter buildings in large numbers, sowbugs don't cause any harm but can cause minute damage to your garden. They don't sting, bite, carry or transmit diseases, nor do they touch food, clothing, or wood, Still, no one wants unwelcome bugs in their home. To prevent sowbugs from coming inside, make sure to eliminate decaying plants and debris from around your home. Minimize interior moisture and humidity and seal off any entry points, cracks, unsealed windows, or doors.

For more information or to request a free pest inspection, contact Palmetto Exterminators.

Similar Pests: Pill Bugs, Stink Bugs, Kudzu Bugs, Boxelder Bugs