Sow Bug

closeup photo of a sow bug
Scientific Name :
Length :
approx 15 mm
Bites? :
Spreads Disease? :
Risk Factors :
Low: Nuisance and unisghtly
How to get rid of
Sow Bug
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A sow bug or woodlouse is a small land arthropod (jointed-legged animal). They are often confused with centipedes, millipedes or insects, but are actually crustaceans. They have fourteen legs and breathe through gills. Because of the gills, woodlice need water in the air around them. They mostly eat dead plants, and are considered helpful, because they act as “garbage collectors.” Some species can roll up into a ball when in danger. In such position, their hard shell faces out, protecting the softer parts of the body.

Sow bugs do not look like shrimps or crabs, although they are closely related.

Sowbugs are land crustaceans which look very similar to pillbugs, at least at first glance. Sowbugs are small crustaceans with oval bodies when viewed from above. Their back consists of a number of overlapping, articulating plates. They have 7 pairs of legs, and antennae which reach about half the body length. Most are slate gray in color, and may reach about 15 mm long and 8 mm wide.

Sowbugs have gills which need constant moisture, so they tend to live in moister northwest climates. They are primarily nocturnal, and eat decaying leaf litter and vegetable matter. They may also feed on the tips of young plants, so can be considered pests, but they also help the environment by breaking up decaying plant matter and help speed up the recycling of the nutrients they contain.

The presence of sow bugs or pill bugs in a home is an indication high moisture levels. This condition will also contribute to a number of other problems including mildew, wood rot and a good breeding ground for other insects and pests.

Prevention : Keeps areas as dry as possible.

Reduce moisture or humidity level indoors. Use bathroom fans, stove hood vent fans, vent clothes dryers outside. Crawl spaces and attics need to be well ventilated.

Remove excess vegetation and debris around exterior perimeter of the home. Make sure that leaf debris (leaves hold moisture and hide the bugs) is cleaned up from around the outside of your house. Keep rain gutters and downspouts clean and in good repair.

Seal cracks with the use of a caulking gun at or near ground level. Houses built on a concrete slabs poured directly on the ground, can have more of a problem with sow bugs or pill bugs if there is no moisture barrier under the concrete.

Built-in planters are usually a bad idea for many reasons. Window box planters and planter boxes on decks tight against the house are good breeding places for many bugs.

Make sure all your doors (ground level, to the outside) are weather-stripped.

If your garage is attached or integral with the house, make sure those doors are properly weather-stripped also.

Watch for obvious moisture problems in garages, basements and lower levels.

Keep soil levels well below structural wood around the home.

A perimeter pesticide spray may help break the cycle for a short time but will not eliminate the problem permanently.

Remember, if you don’t solve the moisture problem, the bugs will return no matter what chemicals you use, or how much you use them. For all your Winnipeg pest control needs choose GL pest control.  See our services for insect control in Winnipeg.

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