Pill bugs, depending on their population, can be bad or good in the garden.
The pill bug, Armadillidium vulgare, is a crustacean related to the arachnipod. They have a hard, segmented exoskeleton that is light to dark grey, and seven pairs of legs. They look like tiny armadillos! When on the defensive, they roll into a little ball to protect themselves. They prefer very moist, dark areas of the garden, which is why they are most prevalent after a rain especially under pots and rocks.
In normal populations, they are considered nature’s clean up crew, eating rotted plants and breaking down decaying matter (detritus). If overpopulated, there won’t be enough detritus and they’ll eat flowers, buds and new foliage on plants.
Prevention is key to keeping pill bugs under control.
- Keep beds clear of heavy decaying leaf and plant litter.
- Move woodpiles and other nesting areas away from your garden.
- Leave 8- to 12-inches of space between mulch and the foundation of your home. Check for any leaking outdoor faucets that might leave the soil continuously moist.
To treat: Diatomaceous earth can be spread around the soil to help control pill bugs if they get out of control. Natural pesticides like spinosad or horticultural oils can be carefully applied to the plants they are feeding on if necessary.