Sowbugs

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Sowbugs (and pillbugs) are night prowlers and tend to hide under objects such as flower pots, rocks, and trash cans; or in grass edging near pavement during the day. Sowbugs and pillbugs are actually crustaceans and more similar to shrimp and crayfish than to insects.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE SOWBUGS?

  • Sowbugs and pillbugs are easily seen. They are often found when moving a flower pot or other item on the floor.

  • Sowbugs and pillbugs need moisture in order to survive, therefore, they are typically found in moist, often dark, areas.

  • Sowbugs can enter buildings through thresholds, expansion joints, and voids in walls.

  • Sowbugs that are spotted indoors often means there are also large numbers breeding outdoors near the building foundation.

WHAT DO SOWBUGS LOOK LIKE?

  • Sowbugs and pillbugs are typically between ¼ to ½ inches in length.

  • Sowbugs vary slightly in color from dark to slate gray with oval convex upper bodies and concave lower bodies.

  • Sowbugs have seven pairs of legs and two pairs of antennae (one visible and one difficult to see).

  • Sowbugs and pillbugs are similar in appearance, however, sowbugs have two tail-like appendages projecting from the rear and pillbugs do not have posterior appendages.

  • Sowbugs also cannot roll up like pillbugs when they are disturbed.

ARE SOWBUGS DANGEROUS?

• No. Sowbugs are nuisance pests and don’t bite, sting, or cause damage to humans, homes, or household furnishings.

CAN MY HOUSE BE DAMAGED BY SOWBUGS?

  • No. Sowbugs and pillbug often get blamed for greater damage to plants than they actually cause.

  • Other pests often cause the initial damage. As opportunists, sowbugs take advantage by feeding off the damage caused by other pests.

WHY ARE SOWBUGS IN MY HOUSE AND YARD?

  • If sowbugs enter homes, it means they have found a source of moisture that they need to survive, therefore, sowbugs can be controlled by eliminating moisture near foundations or crawl spaces.

  • In gardens, sowbugs are attracted to sources of water in the yard.

WHAT DO SOWBUGS EAT?

  • Sowbugs eat many different organisms such as fungus, algae, moss, and bark.

  • Sowbugs also feed on the debris left by other pests. They eat dead plants and animals that are in the process of

    decaying.

WHAT IS THE LIFECYCLE OF SOWBUGS?

  • The average lifespan of a sowbug is two years, however, they have been known to live up to five years.

  • Female sowbugs can reproduce by parthenogenesis (reproduction without fertilization) as well as reproduction with a male.

  • Sowbug eggs take about three to nine weeks to hatch.

  • In March and April, sowbugs and pillbugs begin reproduction raising two to three broods of offspring during the summer.

  • Broods consist of about 30-40 babies that are incubated for 34 days in the female’s brood pouch which is located under the mother’s body.

  • Male and female sowbugs and pillbugs are active parents. Males guard the family’s burrow and help gather food for the young.

  • After leaving the brood pouch, sowbug nymphs molt four or five times and reach adulthood within a year.

  • As adults, sowbugs continue to molt (about every 28 days).

3 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT SOWBUGS:

  • Sowbugs are from the crustacean family and are closely related to lobsters, crabs, and shrimp.

  • Unlike other crustaceans that live in or near water, sowbugs and pillbug live on dry land but still need damp habitats because of their delicate gill-like organs on their underside which need moisture to work.

  • Sowbugs and pillbugs are the only dry-land crustaceans.