Sowbugs and pillbugs are closely related to shrimp, crabs, and lobsters; they considered to be a type of land-living crustacean. They are most commonly found outdoors in moist areas, and are a type of occasional invader that can become a nuisance inside of homes and other buildings in Missouri.

Pest Identification

Sowbugs – Sowbugs are rounded on the top and flat on the bottom, and have the same segmented look as an armadillo. Adults can grow to be ½ of an inch in length; they have seven pairs of legs, two antennae and are dark gray in color. Sowbugs have two prominent appendages on their hind end that resemble a tail. They can roll into a “c” shape when they feel scared or threatened. Pillbugs – Pill bugs have a similar appearance to sowbugs, but their body is not as flat and they lack the hind end appendages. Another difference is that pill bugs can roll completely into a ball when they feel threatened.


Both pill bugs and sow bugs cannot retain water in their bodies which is why they have to live in areas of high moisture. The life cycle of a pill bug and sow bug happens through the process of incomplete metamorphosis. Incomplete metamorphosis means that their lifecycle contains only an egg, nymph and adult; immature young hatch from eggs looking like miniature versions of the adults. After growing and shedding their skin they will mature into adults. Some species will carry their eggs in pouches on their stomach, the eggs hatch and leave the mother giving an illusion that she gave birth to live young.


Pillbugs and sowbugs are a type of scavenger that feed on decaying organic materials. They hide during the day in dark moist areas like underneath of mulch, compost, landscaping ties, leaf piles, stones, and in the cracks along the edges of sidewalks, driveways, and foundations. At night pill bugs and sow bugs come out to forage for food. They will enter into damp areas of homes through cracks and spaces in crawl spaces and basements; they will also get in underneath of sliding glass and other exterior doors. If there are large numbers of these pests in your home there are most likely large numbers living in close proximity to the outside of your home.


There are several things you can do around your home to try and help deter sow bugs and pill bugs that include: reducing areas of high humidity through the use of de-humidifiers and air conditioners, sealing gaps and cracks in your home’s foundation, installing door sweeps underneath of doors, and caulking gaps found around exterior windows and doors. It can also be helpful to keep firewood piles away from the exterior of your home, along with removing piles of leaves and other debris from your property.


The best way to prevent problems with pillbugs, sowbugs, and other common household pests is to partner with a professional pest control company. At Rottler we can offer you services to prevent and control pests through our Signature Protection program which offers year-round home pest control services. After the initial inspection and service visit to control your current infestation, we will continue to provide you with services every other month to inspect for pest activity, treat the exterior of your home, and perform pinpoint treatments for specific pests. Interior treatments can be done per your request at no additional charge For more information about how Rottler Pest and Lawn Solutions can quickly eliminate sow bugs and/or pill bugs from your home contact us today.

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