Pill Bugs AKA Rolly Polly Bugs Invaded My Garden

kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,275 ✭✭✭✭✭

OMG!! I've had so many issues with bugs this year! These things have invaded my garden beds and eaten most of my kale, chard, collards, & broccoli seedlings! Apparently seedlings are their favorite food when there isn't enough moisture. We haven't had rain like we did this summer but I've been watering. Sigh...

That must be true because the mustard greens I bought already past the seedling stage are doing great! So is my lettuce which I didn't transplant until it was a nice size due the others being eaten.

Online it says these bugs actually aren't bugs and they're related to lobsters. Too bad they don't taste like lobsters I'd be rich! 😂

So, what I've done to get rid of them is: after much research it seems they love cut hollowed out potatoes because of the moisture. So, I have cut several in half and scooped out some of the inside, so they have a good spot to feast. Then, I covered them with a couple leave and put a rock or stick on top to keep the leaves from blowing in the wind. I left them there for a couple days.

The results - potatoes are magnets for them! The past 2 mornings I've scrapped the bugs off of the potatoes into an old cup. Then, used a spoon to get the rolled up ones out of the dirt. Yesterday I found a zillion! Today not near as much. I'm hoping to knock the population down and draw them away from my beds by moving the potatoes gradually away.

This is what a couple potatoes looked like this afternoon - only a few bugs. In the morning it is COVERED!

Check out this bag full of them!

I have a couple second video too but it couldn't be uploaded. In the video you can see hundreds of them moving around!

I've started more plants which are seedling size so once they get bigger I'm going to transplant them and see what happens.

Wish me luck!!


  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,218 admin

    Somehow I thought these insects were good predatory insects, so I looked them up again. It sounds like they ran out of their regular food. When they do that they attack vegetables. I learned something new.

    Now to figure out how to supply them with their preferred food so they leave yours alone?

    As for the video, you need to upload it first to YouTube, Rumble or some such similar platform, then put a link to it here.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,275 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning If I knew what their preferred was, I'd gladly put it out! But then I might end up with even more of them!!

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,131 ✭✭✭✭

    Interesting that they can change their food preference so drastically.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,218 admin

    @kbmbillups1 I suppose that would be very true.

    Have you figured out what their biological enemies might be?

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,275 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A lot of good information here:

    Pill Bugs: Are They Friends Or Foes? - Epic Gardening

    Interesting, it says pill bugs live up to 3 years and take 1 year to mature. They carry the babies in their pouch for 4 months.

    Also, beneficial insects that eat them: centipedes, frogs, toads, ants, and birds. I had such nice ants this summer taking care of the aphids on my okra and big red ants on my long beans that seemed to be beneficial as well. Where are they now?? I'd love some help managing these pill bugs!

    He mentioned neem oil and food grade dematiaceous earth both of which I tried. I even tried cinnamon.

    He also mentioned putting toilet paper tubs around seedlings for protection. I guess they don't climb over? I'm definitely doing that!

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,349 admin

    we have them as well, but only in the cellar when it is humid. Then it is a sign for us to switch on the dehumidifier. I have never seen them in my vegetable beds. Under stones or old wood - yes. Sorry I have no advice, but I am following this discussion. Who knows when they get interested in my vegetables.

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    I read somewhere to compost near them and they will break that down instead of attacking your garden. I would put a small compost pile near your garden. They will make the compost break down sooner that way as well.

    Also ants are fed by aphids so they don't usually kill them, but instead protect them from predatory insects.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,275 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Cornelius I do have a compost bin not too far from one of those beds. My worms were eating so many veggie scraps when it was warm, I wasn't putting too much in my compost bin. Now that they've slowed down my compost bin is getting most of it.

    The potatoes have worked really well! The past couple days I've only found a few on each one instead of 20+ and my plants that are left have started looking better. Now that they aren't having to defend against being eaten, they're finally growing.

    Pill bug magnet

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    @kbmbillups1 Hopefully your garden will be safe now!

  • water2world
    water2world Posts: 1,046 ✭✭✭✭

    Wow --Learned some new things about pill bugs! I haven't seen any in quite some time and had not thought about them until I read these postings!