Do I have a sowbug problem?

Sowbugs are primarily outdoor pests. During the spring melt, however, you may find them in your home, looking for food and a safe place to mate. So, when are sowbugs a problem in your home? Here’s what you need to know.

What are sowbugs?

Sowbugs aren’t insects. They’re crustaceans, related more to shrimp than to cockroaches. They’re oval-shaped, flat creatures around 1.5 centimetres long with a round, grey exoskeleton, seven pairs of legs and two sets of antennae (although you can see only one). Sowbugs and pillbugs are often confused because they have a similar appearance and behaviour, except that only the pillbug can curl itself into a tiny ball when threatened.

Sowbugs are nocturnal creatures. During the day, you’ll find them in moist, dark places, such as under rocks and logs or in basements.

Are sowbugs harmful?

Sowbugs are harmless and pose no risk to humans. They don’t bite or sting, nor do they carry disease. In fact, sowbugs serve a valuable function in the ecosystem because they feed on decaying plant material. However, many homeowners consider them a nuisance because of their ugly appearance. Most sowbug home infestations occur in the spring when there are plenty of moist places to hide and rotting plants to eat.

How to control sowbugs

Here are a few things you can do to prevent sowbugs from getting near or into your home:

  • Remove moisture sources from inside and around your home. Without moisture, sowbugs die within about two days. Repair roof and plumbing leaks inside your home and ensure rain runoff is drained well away from your home to keep the soil around the foundation dry. Use a dehumidifier and fans to remove excess moisture indoors. Sowbugs will often hide under things on top of damp areas such as stones, planters, and logs.
  • Remove dead and decaying plant material from around your home. Piles of leaves, branches, grass, and organic mulches are havens for sowbugs.
  • Seal all cracks, crevices, and gaps in your foundation and around vents, windows, doors, and openings where cables, wires, and other utilities enter your home.
  • Treat the sowbug entry points or exterior perimeter of your house with a residual pesticide to prevent sowbugs from entering. Use diatomaceous earth in damp areas to absorb moisture and kill sowbugs. If the interior of the home is dry, treatment indoors is rarely needed and glue traps could be placed behind items or near the walls to collect sowbugs leaving the walls.

If you use a pesticide, ensure that it’s labelled for use against sowbugs.

Professional pest management solutions in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba

At Poulin’s Pest Control, we can help you control your sowbug population or any other pest infestation, including cockroaches, ants, and mice. Our highly trained technicians will visit your home, assess your situation, and devise a plan to get rid of your unwanted critters for good. We have seven locations across Western Canada. Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.

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