Friday, April 1, 2011

Sowbugs & Pillbugs

Everyone stop and pause and let's all take a deep, collective breath. Okay, now everyone think thoughts of rain- a nice, steady drenching rain.

So what does rain have to do with the pillbugs? Have you noticed pillbugs crawling seemingly everywhere lately? I'm thinking that- at least in my yard- they are anxious to find a nice, moist environment to hang out. Since there hasn't been any rain (let's all agree there's been rain, but nothing significant) and I haven't been watering regularly, the pillbugs are desperate for moisture.

Pillbugs and sowbugs are a type of crustacean and related to crayfish and shrimp. They have oval bodies with 7 pairs of legs and 2 pair of antennae. Sowbugs have two tail-like appendages that come off the end of the abdomen. Pillbugs do not have the appendages, but pillbugs are capable of rolling up into a ball when disturbed (these are what people often call roly-polies).

These are the only crustacea that have adapted to live their entire lives on land, but they still need a moist habitat to survive. They feed on decaying organic matter, but will occasionally feed on tender, young plants. They really don't do a lot of damage when they feed on plants unless you have very large populations.

If you have sowbugs and/ or pillbugs wandering around your home, I wouldn't be too concerend. If they find their way into the house, you can just scoop or sweep them up and move them back outside. When you have large populations causing plant damage try to reduce moisture in the area and remove areas where they might hide (heavy mulch, stones, logs, etc.).

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