How To Keep Pillbugs From Invading Your Vegetable Garden

Some pests like pillbugs aren't dangerous or poisonous to your family and pet's health. However, pillbugs can become nuisances in your vegetable garden when they take over. You can contact a pest control specialist to get rid of the pillbugs, or you can take measures into your own hands. Here's how you keep pillbugs out of your garden without harming them or your vegetables.

What Are Pillbugs?

Pillbugs or roly poly bugs aren't true insects. In fact, these small, gray outdoor pests belong in the crustacean family, which includes lobsters and crabs. Roly poly bugs spend the majority of their lives on land but require moisture or damp surroundings to survive. They have gills instead of lung sacks in their bodies. Wooden planks, planters, and even wet rocks and carpets provide sufficient shelter for roly poly bugs. They also hide beneath dead leaves, mulch, wood chips, and other types of plant life and vegetation. Your vegetable garden is the perfect home because it contains one or more of these things.

Pillbugs won't bite or sting your pets and children, but they will roll into a tight ball if disturbed or aggravated. The crustaceans' outer shell looks similar to a suit of armor, which protects it from predators like birds and frogs or other pillbugs.

You may notice more roly poly bugs in your garden during the spring or summer — especially if it rains a lot in your region. But if you notice the bugs in the fall or cold season, you may have more pillbugs in your vegetable garden that you truly want to see. The moisture snow and frost leaves behind as it melts or soaks into the ground of your garden may rotten your potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The combination of wet surroundings and rotten vegetables attract pillbugs to your garden.

How Can You Keep Pillbugs Out Of Your Vegetable Garden Safely?

Pillbugs generally eat the decaying vegetables in your garden, as well as the fungi and mold that grows on plants' roots. But when the conditions are just right, such as in the spring when vegetation tends to grow the most, the pests may see your healthy vegetables as viable food sources. If you plant flowers like pansies in or near your vegetable garden, you may expect the pests to eat them as well. Flowering plants may attract more pillbugs to your vegetable garden because the pests like to eat them. It's a good idea to place flowering plants away from your vegetable garden to help reduce the damage.

Another tip you may find helpful is to change the mulch on the ground beneath your garden every two weeks, or when it becomes visibly soaked with water. Mulch soaks up rainwater, snow and other moisture and becomes a great hiding place for pillbugs during the daylight hours. By changing the mulch once it becomes too moist, you help cut down on your pillbug problem.

Finally, place a trench around your garden. The excess rainwater or melted snow will run off the soil in your garden and into the trench. The water usually travels elsewhere in your yard, such as to nearby trees and shrubs. You may choose to run your trench from the garden to the street and let the water run off into the community drainage system. However, check with your city to make sure that this is okay to do.

If none of your actions work, contact pest control for help. An exterminator like Ace Walco & Sons Termite & Pest Control can place a safe pesticide around the garden as a barrier. The pesticide won't affect the health and safety of your vegetable garden.