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Sowbugs

Active Seasons

Illustration representing the spring season
Illustration representing the summer season
Illustration representing the winter season
Illustration representing the fall season

Appearance and Size Facts

  • Oval or slightly elongate with a flattened body
  • Wingless, brownish or slate gray in color, have well-developed eyes, seven pairs of legs
  • Overlapping "armored" plates that make them look like little armadillos
  • Two tail-like structures on the rear end and look similar to pillbugs, but cannot roll into a tight ball like the pillbugs
  • Slow-moving crustaceans that are more closely related to crayfish, shrimp, and lobsters than to insects
  • Size: Up to 3/4 inch long

Behavior and Habitat of Sowbugs

Sowbugs mate throughout the year, with most activity occurring in the spring. The female carries the eggs, numbering from 7 to 200, in a brood pouch on the underside of her body. Eggs hatch in 3 to 7 weeks and the young are white-colored. They remain in the brood pouch for 6 to 8 weeks until they are able to take care of themselves. There may be one to two generations per year, with individuals living up to three years depending on weather conditions. Sowbugs, sometimes called ""woodlice,"" live outdoors, but they may occasionally enter homes in damp areas such as basements and garages. These creatures are a nuisance, and when in large numbers can feed on young plants in greenhouses. Some may crawl into swimming pools and drown, causing complaints. Those that wander into homes usually find a moist place near a leaky pipe or in a damp basement, bathroom, or laundry room.

Image of a magnifying glass

Signs of Infestation of Sowbugs

These creatures live outdoors, feeding on decaying organic matter and occasionally young plants and their roots. They may become pests in and around homes where flower bed mulches, grass clippings, leaf litter, rotting boards, trash, rocks, and pet droppings are present. Adequate moisture is essential for their survival; they group in masses to reduce water loss.

An illustration representing a warning sign for bug infestation

Tips for Prevention of Sowbugs

Pillbugs can be avoided by eliminating food sources such as vegetable or plant debris.

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Sowbug Gallery

Photograph of sowbug

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