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Sow Bugs, Page 1.

  Visit page 2 for more information on Sow bugs, Pill bugs,
Millipedes and Centipedes
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Sow Bugs and Pill Bugs      Curled pill bug

Sowbugs are land crustaceans which look very similar to pillbugs, at least at first glance. Sowbugs are small crustaceans with oval bodies when viewed from above. Their back consists of a number of overlapping, articulating plates. They have 7 pairs of legs, and antennae which reach about half the body length. Most are slate gray in color, and may  reach about 15 mm long and 8 mm wide.

The pillbug on the other hand has a rounder back, from side to side, and a d
eeper body, from back to legs. When disturbed, it frequently rolls into a tight ball, with its legs tucked inside, much like its larger but dissimilar counterpart the armadillo.Pill Bugs

Sowbugs have gills which need constant moisture, so they tend to live in moister northwest climates. They are primarily nocturnal, and eat decaying leaf litter and vegetable matter. They may also feed on the tips of young plants, so can be considered pests, but they also help the environment by breaking up decaying plant matter and help speed up the recycling of the nutrients they contain.

Controlling Sow Bugs

(see also Controlling pests)

The presence of sow bugs or pill bugs  in the living quarters of a home is an indication high moisture conditions. This condition will also contribute to a number of other problems including mildew, wood rot and a good breeding environment for other insects. 

  • Reduce moisture or humidity level indoors. Use bathroom fans, stove hood vent fans, vent clothes dryers outside.  Crawl spaces and attics need to be well ventilated. 
  • Remove excess vegetation and debris around exterior perimeter of the home. Make sure that leaf debris (leaves hold moisture and hide the bugs) is cleaned up from around the outside of your house.  Keep rain gutters and downspouts clean and in good repair. 
  • Instead of chemicals, use a caulking gun to close any cracks or crevices at or near ground level.  Houses  built  on a concrete slab poured directly on the ground, can have more of a problem with sow bugs or pill bugs if there is no moisture barrier under the concrete. 
  • Built-in planters are usually a bad idea for many reasons. Window box planters and planter boxes on decks tight against the house are good breeding places for many bugs.
  • Make sure all your doors (ground level, to the outside) are weather-stripped.  If your garage is attached or integral with the house, make sure those doors are properly weather-stripped also.  
  • Watch for obvious moisture problems in the garage and bottom level.
  • Keep soil levels well below structural wood around the home.

A perimeter pesticide spray may help break the cycle for a short time but will not eliminate the problem permanently. Remember, if you don't solve the moisture problem, the bugs will return no matter what chemicals you use, or how much you use them.

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