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Sow Bugs

Sowbugs are flat, oval creatures that are dark brown or gray and measures 16 mm. Although sowbugs are principally beneficial because they assist in the breakdown of decaying organic matter, they can be a threat to young plants. Indoors, they are more of a pest and will eventually die out. Sowbugs indoor invasions occur when outside conditions support large numbers of these crustaceans.

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Sow Bug Facts

Appearance

The sowbug is dark brown or gray and measures 16 mm. Although sowbugs are principally beneficial because they assist in the breakdown of decaying organic matter, they can be a threat to young plants. Indoors, they are more of a pest and will eventually die out.


Development

The female sowbug carries approximately 40 eggs on her underside until they hatch and has an average of two broods per year. The young molt every two weeks until maturity at 20 weeks, when females become capable of reproduction. An infestation of sowbugs can number in the thousands. Sowbugs become inactive during cold months, but can live for up to two years. Since sowbugs prefer dampness, a moist spring will encourage a larger number outdoors. 


Damage Caused by Sowbugs

Generally sowbugs come out from their harborage only at night – unless their shelter is disturbed. They feed on decomposing organic matter such as leaves and logs. They may also feed on young plants as well as the skin of cucumbers. They are harmless to people, but can damage plants and seedlings with their feeding.  

Sow Bug Treatments

Recommendation for Treatment: 

- Internal spray to basement and house as well as an external perimeter spray of the house

- Purchase a Ready to Use Insecticide Spray for the spraying and Insect Monitor traps to monitor the internal activity

DIY - Do It Yourself Tips

Sowbug indoor invasions occur when outside conditions support large numbers of these crustaceans. Treatments can provide short-term relief, but for the long – term success following five steps has to be followed.

  • Exclusion – Eliminating sources of combined darkness and moisture, such as vegetable or wood debris from your property, especially those close to the building as well as proper ventilation in the basement areas of the home will discourage an indoor infestation of sowbugs.
  • Moisture Reduction – Because these pests cannot survive without moisture, repairing and eliminating any areas in the home that are wet or damp.
  • Sanitation – Sowbugs will harbor in clutter, especially piles that have gotten moist from sitting. Because they feed on organic matter, they may also seek out such areas for food.
  • Internal Perimeter Spray – Spray the entire perimeter of the house and keep vacuuming or sweeping frequently.
  • Exterior Perimeter Spray- A perimeter application of the outside of the house can provide some preventive control in keeping these pest invade your house in future. Labeled pesticide for the both perimeter sprays is available at the Ecopest store.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When am I most likely to see sowbugs?

A: Sowbugs prefer darkness and are most active at night. If the ground becomes overly moist especially after a rainfall, you will see them moving around in the garden seeking dryer areas.  


Q: Where do you find sowbugs?

A: Sowbugs prefer moist locations and are found under stones, boards and vegetable debris of all kinds. Indoors, sowbugs will at times invade damp basement areas, and wander to other areas of the home seeking moisture.  


Q: Do sow bugs die off in cold months?

A: No, sow bugs become inactive during cold months, but live for up to two years. 

 

Q: Can I do anything to prevent an infestation of sowbugs on my property?

A: Yes. Eliminate sources of combined darkness and moisture, such as vegetable or wood debris from your property, especially those close to the building. Proper ventilation in basement areas of the home will discourage an indoor infestation of sowbugs.  


Q: If I have an infestation of sowbugs, what can be done to eliminate them?

A: Due to the nature of sowbugs, control can be difficult and a professional should be consulted for thorough results. You can contact Ecopest professionals to purchase products or to render services. 

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