A reader asks: We have hundreds of sow bugs in our home along the baseboards. We get rid of them and a few months later they are back. What can we use to exterminate them?
The sow bugs or, more likely pill bugs, you are finding in your home are present due to an abundance of moisture along the outside foundation wall of your house. These little crustaceans require lots of moisture and are attracted to the wettest, shadiest spots. They find their way inside your home via the smallest of cracks in the foundation or slab. Once inside they dry up quickly and die.
The best way to keep pill bugs out is to change the slope of the ground adjacent to the foundation so that water drains away from the house. In some cases
you may not be able to radically alter the slope and you might have to install a French drain that catches the water and carries it away from the foundation. That can be a costly undertaking, but it is necessary.
The purpose of installing a drainage system is so that the drain intercepts water as it washes down a slope towards the house. The drain is set up to carry the water to the sides and around the house, allowing the water to return to its downhill journey after it passes the house. Or, the water may be piped directly into a storm sewer.
You also need to look at your roof line. Gutters are used to prevent water from falling from the roof and collecting along foundation walls, but not all houses have gutters. Installation of gutters will help the accumulation of moisture along the foundation wall, as well.
As long as the house accumlates moisture along the walls you will have pill bugs, plus all the other insects that feed on pill bugs. Crickets, centipedes, milipedes and ants all are attracted to moisture. Making the sides of the house dry will resolve most of these insect issues.