Pill bugs, also known as a roly-poly, doodlebugs, and woodlice, have long been curious garden dwellers. Children find them fascinating to watch as they roll up into little balls with their seven pairs of legs. They can often even be found in backyards across the United States and internationally. But when we really think about whether pill bugs should be in or around the garden, the question of friend or enemy comes up.

The truth is that while these creatures are not always bad news in a garden setting, they can become pests when left unchecked. They feed on decaying plant material, including harvested vegetables and fruits – which means that if there is an overabundance of them in your garden plot, you may find yourself with a crop full of holes.

Likewise, some insectivorous mammals like frogs and lizards love to munch on pill bugs, too – so if there are too many of them around, these animals may mistakenly hunt your plants rather than their bug-y treats.

Are Pill Bugs Good for Gardens?

Pill bugs, also known as Roly Polys, are harmless creatures that play an important role in garden ecology. They are not generally a problem and can even benefit gardens by eating decaying organic matter in the soil. Usually, pill bugs will only venture out at night when all of their natural predators are least active, allowing them to go about their business undisturbed.

However, if you have an unbalanced garden environment with few natural predators or food sources for the pill bugs, they may become a problem. Using chemical pesticides that reduce the number of natural pills bug predators can lead to an explosion in population size, so it’s best to avoid them where possible.

Also, suppose your garden contains insufficient plant-based or other organic matter. In that case, pill bugs might start going after any tender plants, seedlings, or flowers you have in your yard instead. In order to keep your Garden balanced and free from any potential pest problems, it’s important for you to maintain a healthy ecosystem containing sufficient food sources.

What Do Pill Bugs Eat?

Pill bugs are considered one of nature’s essential garbage disposal systems. Mainly living off of decaying plant matter, they can often be found in compost piles, helping break down organic waste. With its seven pairs of legs, the pill bug is a highly efficient scavenger, able to cover large areas in search of food. Pill bugs are able to ingest a variety of different materials for nourishment, including rotting vegetation and dead plant parts.

Unfortunately, due to the imperfections of our world, pill bugs will sometimes resort to eating live plants as a last resort if no other food source is available. While this behavior is natural and not necessarily harmful to any given species, having excess pill bugs in your garden or yard can still cause damage over time through improper consumption patterns.

The best way to ensure that your plants remain safe from harm is by taking preventative measures such as keeping the area free from aphids and compost piles away from desirable foliage.

Where Pill Bugs Are Most Found?

Roly-poly “bugs” are small, round terrestrial crustaceans that can be found all over North America. In the US, these critters have a wide distribution and about a dozen varieties. I clearly remember collecting them as a kid growing up in Florida, as they love to lurk beneath logs, plant matter, and other refuge during colder months.

Roly-polies need moist conditions to survive because they breathe through gills. For this reason, they prefer damp areas while keeping comfortable temperatures ranging from 25-30°C (77-86F). Thus, you don’t need to look far for it – just turn over a spadeful of flower bed mulch with mud or overturn a log or rock in a humid area, and you’ll surely find plenty of them. Planting nectar-rich flowers will also draw the roly-polies close.

Here are Some Ways to Get Rid of Bugs

Set Traps to Catch Them

Traps are an effective way to control the population of pill bugs in your garden. There are a few common methods you can use to trap pill bugs. One option is to create a makeshift enclosure around the area where rollie pollies are most active.

For example, you can fill a container with soil, rocks, and leaves and place it in the affected area. The pill bugs will be attracted to their preferred habitat and crawl inside without being able to escape.

To give them more incentive to stay, you can place a food source such as pieces of fresh vegetable or fruit scraps inches away from the container’s edge and let nature take its course. You should check these enclosures at least once daily and transfer any trapped pill bugs elsewhere outside of your garden if they have not already disappeared on their own accord by the time you reach them.

If this method proves ineffective, you could also try constructing a pitfall type of trap by digging out an area at least two inches deep, lining it with plastic wrap or foil, and placing some bait next to it as a lure for promoting movement into the pitfall. Once again — make sure to check traps daily for optimum efficiency.

Tape, Newspaper, or Toilet Paper Tubes as Collars

Using a toilet paper tube, newspaper, or duct tape to make collars for seedlings is innovative and often inexpensive pest control. The idea is simple: these materials can be wrapped around the stem of a seedling to form a barrier against invading herbivores such as insects and rodents.

This method of protection helps prevent damage to the plant’s valuable parts, such as leaves, flowers, and fruit.

Using newspaper and toilet paper rolls is effective because they are both strong enough to provide some protection and have small holes that allow air and light through to the fragile new plants. With duct tape, I found it best to wrap it sticky side out so that pests can’t climb up the sides of the tube or roll.

Also, keeping it sticky side out, you don’t risk peeling off paint or staining the soil or plant with adhesive when you remove it later. No matter which material you use, these collars offer low-cost yet highly effective protection for vulnerable seedlings until they are large enough to fend off pests on their own.

Organic Pest Repellents

Organic pest repellents are another way to protect your garden from pill bugs. There are a variety of natural products available that can be used to keep these pests at bay. Garlic and onion extracts, for example, can be sprayed directly onto plants and the surrounding soil.

These ingredients contain sulfur compounds which act as a deterrent to many common garden pests. Natural repellents such as cayenne pepper, Neem oil, and diatomaceous earth can also keep pill bugs away from your plants.

Overplant to Overwhelm Rollie Pollies

When dealing with rollie pollies in the garden, one of the most effective ways to beat them is by overplanting. Instead of planting two or three seeds per hole, I usually plant six to eight. This ensures that at least one of the seeds will be overlooked or otherwise protected by the other seedlings and not consumed by the pesky pests. It also facilitates a more vigorous growth rate and can help prevent overcrowding later on.

In addition to overplanting, thinning out additional seedlings as soon as they sprout is important. If you pull them out, you could disturb the roots of the remaining seedlings, so I prefer to use a sharp pair of scissors or knife and cut off any additional stems at the soil level. Overplanting and thinning are great strategies for protecting your garden from ravenous rollie pollies and ensuring its success.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

1. Are Pill Bugs Good For The Environment?

Pill bugs, also known as Armadillidiidae or rollie pollies, are small crustaceans that are found in many gardens and wooded areas. Pill bugs can benefit the environment because they feed on decaying organic matter. This helps break down dead plants and other organic material, which releases vital nutrients back into the soil. They also aerate the soil by burrowing, which helps keep the soil healthy and well-drained.

2. How Do I Get Rid Of Pill Bugs In My Garden?

You can use several methods to get rid of pill bugs in your garden. One option is to create a physical barrier around your plants, such as using duct tape or newspaper rolls as collars for seedlings. You can also use organic pest repellents, such as garlic and onion extracts, cayenne pepper, Neem oil, and diatomaceous earth. Finally, you can try overplanting to overwhelm the pill bugs and thinning out extra seedlings when they sprout.

3. Do Pill Bugs Produce Co2?

Pill bugs, also known as woodlice, are small crustaceans that are often found in gardens and compost piles. They do not produce carbon dioxide (CO2) but help break down organic matter into soil-building nutrients. Pill bugs feed on decaying plant matter and other organic material, which helps to speed up the decomposition process. This results in richer soil that can better support healthy plant growth.

4. How Long Do Pill Bugs Live?

You will find that pill bugs are nocturnal creatures, so they are most active at night, although if they are disturbed during the daytime, they will move around. There is a possibility that pill bugs can live for about two to five years in the right climate conditions.

5. Do Pill Bugs Eat Wood?

No, pill bugs do not eat wood. Pill bugs are actually a type of terrestrial crustacean and are also known as sowbugs or roly-polies. They feed on decaying organic matter like dead leaves, fungi, and small insects. They also consume vegetable matter such as algae, mosses, and lichens. They can benefit gardens because they help break down dead plant material and release vital nutrients into the soil.


Pill bugs, also known as rollie pollies or Armadillidiidae, can be beneficial for gardens. They feed on decaying organic matter and other small insects, which helps to enrich the soil and provide vital nutrients for plants. They also help aerate the soil by burrowing it, ensuring it is well-drained and healthy.

About the Author

Virginia E. Hayes is a gardening enthusiast who loves to write about gardening tools, safety issues, and ways to keep gardens clean and safe. With her vast experience in gardening, she provides valuable insights and tips to help fellow gardening enthusiasts to enhance their gardening experience. Her passion for gardening and writing has made her a sought-after author in the gardening community.

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