Pill Bugs In The House? The #1 Bug Mystery Explained

In this guide, you’ll find out the reasons for the pill bugs in the house.

You’ll learn why pill bugs enter your home and how.

You’ll also find out how to get rid of pill bugs in your home and garden fast.

The best part?

You don’t need a pest controller to do that.

Keep reading.

What Are Pill Bugs – How To Identify Them?

What are pill bugs

In this section, you’ll find out how to identify pill bugs. You’d learn the differences between pill bugs and their closest look-alike, sow bugs.

To your surprise, pill bugs are not insects. Pill bugs are crustaceans like shrimps and crabs.

In entomological terms, pill bugs are non-insect arthropods, which are also known as isopods.

When disturbed or touched, pill bugs have a unique ability to roll themselves in the shape of a ball.

When they roll up, the crust, which is the back with scales, protects their delicate interiors.

It’s because of pill bugs’ ability to roll into a ball or in the shape of a pill. They’re known as pill bugs.

Pill bugs are nocturnal crustaceans. They’re active during the night, and during the day, they hide.

The look-alike of pill bugs is the sow bug. Sow bugs look so similar to pill bugs that you wouldn’t be able to tell if it’s a pill bug or a sow bug at a casual look.

If you do a sow bug vs. pill bug comparison, then you’d notice three essential differences between the pill bug and sow bug.

Sow bug Vs Pill bug
Sow Bug With Appendages At The Bottom

The differences between pill bugs and sow bugs are –

  1. Sow bugs are flatter than pill bugs. Pill bugs have a humped back.
  2. Sowbugs can’t roll into a ball like the pill bugs.
  3. Sow bugs have two visible appendages extending out of the rear end. Pill bugs don’t have them.

What Do Pill Bugs Look Like?

Adult pill bugs grow up to 0.7 inches in length when they’re entirely mature.

They are either gray or brown.

Pill bugs’ bodies have two main segments, the thorax, and the abdomen.

The thorax has seven segments. The segments are visible on their back in the form of scales running parallelly.

Each segment has a pair of legs. So, the pill bugs have seven pairs of legs or fourteen legs.

The head of the pill bugs is attached to the thorax. Pillbugs don’t have any neck that links the thorax and the head.

Pill bugs’ eyes are at the underside of the head. 

The head also has a pair of antennae and antennules to detect vibrations on the ground and smell. 

These are not visible when you notice a pill bug from the top.

The undersides of the pill bugs have reproductive organs. Female pill bugs also have a pouch at the bottom of their abdomen to nurse their young.

The lifespan of adult pill bugs is two to five years.

Life Cycle Of Pill Bugs

Eggs: Unlike other bugs, female pill bugs don’t lay eggs anywhere.

They carry the eggs inside their marsupium pouch, which is in their abdomen. Marsupium pouch is the same as kangaroos’ pouch on their abdomen where they carry their young.

The eggs are tiny, measuring up to 0.7-0.8 mm. 

The eggs hatch in the pouch after three to four weeks.

Young Pill Bugs: One female pill bug produces only 2-3 baby pill bugs.

The baby pill bugs remain inside the pouch for two weeks before they leave their mother. 

The young and the eggs survive on the nutrients that they receive in the marsupium pouch.

The young grow up to 2 mm in length and have undeveloped or fewer than seven legs. 

Instead of seven segments on their back, the young ones have only six.

They’re white and undergo molting, which is the shedding of skin multiple times to grow in size.

Adult Pill Bugs: Upon leaving their mother’s pouch, the young ones molt for the first time within 24 hours.

After the first molt, the young ones develop their seventh thoracic segment. That increases their size a bit.

The young pill bugs molt for the second time after two weeks.

After the second molting, it grows in size. It also develops a pair of legs on the seventh segment.

For the next 18-20 weeks, the young ones keep molting every two weeks. 

They develop a hard developed crust and legs to become an adult ready to reproduce.

Where Do Pill Bugs Live?

Where do pill bugs live

Pill bugs are not native to the US. Settlers from Europe brought them to the US. 

Pill bugs are common in the Northern and Central United States. You’ll find many species of pill bugs in the coastal areas and the south as well.

To survive, pill bugs prefer to live in damp and moist places without direct sunlight. So, they live on the west banks of the rivers, lakes, and streams in the forests. 

They’d hide underneath damp foliage, rocks, and below the rotting pieces of wood. 

In your yard or garden, pill bugs live underneath wet mulch, decaying leaves, and organic wastes, in damp soil beds, and underneath rotting pieces of wood or firewood.

Pill bugs prefer to live in damp places because the soft abdomen underneath the scales is very susceptible to dry out. And if it dries out, pill bugs won’t survive.

Pill bugs are attracted to dampness and wetness because they’re moisture-seeking bugs.

How Pill Bugs Enter Your Home? And Why?

Pill bugs in the house

Pill bugs are outdoor bugs. Your home isn’t an ideal habitat for pill bugs. 

But still, many homes report a pill bug infestation. 

So, why do pill bugs enter your home?

The reason is relatively straightforward, which is the lack of dampness and humidity outdoors.

When the weather outdoors becomes too hot and dry, pill bugs lookout for mild and wet places to live. 

As you know, the undersides of pill bugs are prone to drying out fast in dry conditions, which leads to their death.

So, to survive, they sneak inside your home. 

How do pill bugs enter your home?

They sneak in through the tiny gaps and cracks on the walls, open doors, and windows.

You can introduce pill bugs to your home if you bring plants from your yard, with pill bugs hiding in the soil bed indoors.

Upon entering your home, their first job is to look out for damp places inside your house.

They head over straight to areas of your home which are wet. That’s the reason why you’ll find pill bugs in damp places like the bathroom, basement, and laundry room.

The wet surface on these areas of your home keeps their abdomen moist, which in turn keeps them alive.

But do pill bugs survive inside the house? Do they pose an infestation threat to your home?

Let’s find it out.

Dead Pill Bugs In The House

Dead Pill Bugs In The House

As you know, pill bugs are not indoor bugs. They’re outdoor bugs, and your home isn’t an ideal habitat for them.

Your home isn’t wet enough to keep them alive. 

If you keep your bathroom clean and dry, your bathroom too can’t sustain them.

That’s why you find dead pill bugs in the house, especially in places like the bathroom and basement.

Pill bugs die in your home because, first, they don’t get enough dampness inside the house to survive. And second, they don’t get to eat.

But do pill bugs carry an infestation threat?

Many people think that a bug infests their home if they see a solitary or a few bugs.

It is true in some instances. Like the sighting of one cockroach, ant, or termite, it can be a signal to a thriving infestation. 

But bug infestation means that the bugs can damage your home, spread diseases, hide, and breed inside the house.

Pillbugs don’t do any of these. 

If they can’t get outside of your home, they’ll eventually die. Hence there’s nothing known as pill bug infestation.

So, if you see a pill bug, don’t think that there’s a pill bug infestation at home. Just take a broom and shove it outside your home. 

Even if you don’t, the pill bugs won’t survive inside your home unless your home is too damp.

What Do Pill Bugs Eat?

Most of the time, pill bugs eat decaying plant matter. They don’t eat live plants, but they can damage the seedlings, roots, and seeds.

Pill bugs can damage vegetable plants like tomatoes, radishes, beans, peas, and lettuce. 

The best thing is that pill bugs also eat stink bugs’ eggs. Stink bugs are damaging pests for the garden and crops.

So, pill bugs in the garden and agricultural fields are an excellent way to control stink bugs.

What Are Pill Bugs Good For?

What are pill bugs good for

The presence of pill bugs in your yard or garden has more benefits than drawbacks. 

Pill bugs are beneficial creatures for the overall garden’s health.

Pill bugs not only keep your garden clean by eating the organic wastes in your garden but also they finish off the dead bugs and insects.

Pill bugs break down the organic wastes in your garden, leading to an increase in the soil’s nutrients. It’s because pill bugs optimize the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the earth.

An increase in the soil’s nutrients means better plant growth. Also, pill bugs eat the damaging fungi that form on the soil beds.

The ability to break the organic wastes makes pill bugs a vital part of our ecology as a whole.

Pill bugs also eat their feces. It helps them to restore the copper loss that occurs in their body because of defecating. 

Pill bugs also maintain the soil’s alkaline levels (pH) by consuming harmful metals in soil like lead and arsenic. 

The right pH level in the soil is beneficial for both plant growth and the soil’s fertility and health. 

How To Get Rid Of Pill Bugs?

how to get rid of pill bugs in the house

Although pill bugs are beneficial insects, they are quite a nuisance inside your home. 

Getting rid of pill bugs in the home isn’t a big deal. And we don’t recommend using any insecticide sprays to kill them.

You don’t need them.

Just use a vacuum cleaner on them to remove them. 

But should you get rid of pill bugs in your yard or garden? If you’re growing your food or have a vegetable growing soil bed, then you should.

It’s because pill bugs can damage vegetable plants and their seedlings.

Any outdoor insecticide spray, which is safe for plants, will work to get rid of them. 

You can also use insecticide dust and bug baits to get rid of them. 

(Please read the instructions on the label before using any insecticide product.)

But getting rid of pill bugs in the house is more of a long-term strategy. You’d need to take preventive steps so that they don’t sneak inside your home.

To stop pill bugs sneaking inside your home, here are the five steps to follow –

Step#1: Seal any gaps and cracks on your home’s walls, door frames, and window sills. 

You can use silicone-based sealants to caulk the gaps. These sealants are durable and robust. 

And most importantly, bugs can’t chew through them.

You can also use door strippings to cover the gap between the floor and the bottom of the door.

Pill bugs are efficient crawlers, and they can sneak in from inside the door.

Step#2 – Control moisture and dampness in your home by fixing water leakages. 

Water leakages make your home’s walls and foundation wet. That can attract pill bugs.

In places like the basement and bathroom, where pill bugs hide, ensure that the faucets aren’t leaking and the plumbing work is up to the mark.

Keep your clean and reduce clutter. Pill bugs can hide easily underneath the mess.

Step#3: It’d be best if you don’t overwater your yard or garden. 

Using too much water increases the dampness, and it can attract more pill bugs.

Keep your yard clean, reduce organic wastes, and keep the firewood stack pile clean and free from bugs too.

That will deny the hiding places to the pill bugs in the yard.

Also, ensure that there’s no waterlogging in the yard. 

Step#4: Trim any overgrown vegetation in your yard, especially the ones that are close to your home’s walls.

That’ll not let pill bugs use the vegetation as a means to sneak inside your home. 

Ensure that the gutters of your home are clean. There shouldn’t be any foliage or rotting leaves blocking the water flow in the gutter.

Step#5: Install a dehumidifier inside your home if you live in a humid climate. 

Humidity and dampness attract pill bugs and, if you don’t have them in your home, you’ve to control them both.

Installing a dehumidifier reduces the overall moisture content of the air of your home.

That stops you from over-sweating.

It also deters not just pill bugs but also invasive pests like roaches.

Are Pill Bugs Harmful?

To humans or pets, pill bugs are safe. They’re not bad, dangerous, or harmful.

Pill bugs don’t bite. And they don’t carry any diseases either.

So, if you see pill bugs inside your home, there’s nothing to worry about.

Are Pill Bugs Edible?

Yes, pill bugs are edible. And many people love the taste because pill bugs taste like prawns.

The most common way to eat pill bugs is by roasting. 

Many people consume pill bugs with soups, sauces, salad, curries, and even scrambled eggs.

Japanese people also make sushi out of them. 

Conclusion

In this guide, you’ve found the reasons for pill bugs in the house. 

Pill bugs enter your home when the weather outdoors is too hot and dry for them. It’s because they live in damp places, and too much heat kills them.

You’ve also learned how to differentiate between pill bugs and sow bugs. 

On top of that, there are five steps to ensure that you won’t see pill bugs ever in your home.

Pill bugs in the house look for damp places like the bathroom and basement to hide. 

To know more about the bugs in the bathroom and basement, read our post on bathroom bugs and basement bugs.

You’ll find lists of bugs that infest the bathroom and basement and some highly effective ways to get rid of them.

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