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Pill Bugs

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?

Dear Reader: 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.

Ask Rick A Question


Eileen Larson
06 Apr 2009, 21:07
I live on a hill in a semi arid desert. This winter we have had alot of snow and it has stayed on since October. In january we noticed dozens little round balls all over the basement floor. I swept themn up and they returned and returned. I've since discovered that they are animals and are called pill bugs. We've lived in this house for 35 years and never had them before. Why do I have them now, in the dead of winter? Can I get rid of them? Eileen
Marilyn Corbett
17 May 2010, 13:05
I am on the main floor of a condo. There is not a basement but a crawl space with a gravel floor. I keep finding these bugs crawling around in my condo. How do they get in and what can I do. I think they are pill bugs or as some people call them cement bugs or moisture bugs. Are there other moisture bugs that look like pill bugs. They don't seem to do any harm but I hate them. Please give me some ideas of how to get rid of them.
Ask the Exterminator
17 May 2010, 14:18
Maybe you didn't read the article, but if you did you will see the suggestions for fixing the bug problem. You must resolve the moisture situation. You can use a pesticide for temporary relief, but ultimately it's the moisture around the outside foundation that is attracting these bugs.
04 Jun 2014, 03:13
I live in California where we're experiencing a drought right now, and I have pill bugs crawling up the wall outside my 1-story house! Where would the moisture come from, I am baffled!

The entire neigbourhood is forbidden to wash our cars more than once a month ...
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