Roly-Polys, commonly referred to as pill bugs, are more closely related to shrimp and crayfish than the other true garden bugs because they are members of the Crustacean family. Because they digest decaying waste and hasten the process of composting, these non-bugs are also excellent soil conditioners.
However, there is a downside to having Roly Polys in your garden, according to experts and master gardeners, occasionally the population can grow out of control and become a pest.
Roly Polys prefer extremely damp environments, and they are usually found under rocks and where lawns meet foundations and sidewalks. These creatures require moisture to exist, hence they are always found in moist environments with dead plant matter.
Some gardeners claim that Roly Polys are to blame for destroying marigolds because they are known to devour young, sensitive plants in the absence of dead plant material, but other gardeners disagree and maintain that slugs are more likely to be the offenders.
Are Roly Polys Good Or Bad
Because Roly Polys do such amazing things with the moist decomposing matter that will one day be compost, most gardeners view them as a benefit rather than a pest in their gardens, but the environmental balance in your yard will determine everything.
When Do They Turn Bad?
Roly Polys multiply quickly, which is a drawback because they can survive for several years and have three broods per year with between 25 and 200 offspring per event. No matter how adorable and entertaining they are to play with, thousands of creepy crawly little insects can be unpleasant. They multiply quite close to, and occasionally even inside a home because they enjoy the area where the garden meets the foundation since moisture and dead plant material are what supports them.
The average amount of roly polys in your garden can be helpful or neutral. However, when the environment is out of balance, their populations can quickly increase.
Even though they are rare, pill bugs might be a nuisance in your garden if there isn’t much mulch or other decomposing matter for them to eat. They should continue to be good neighbors as long as your garden has nice mulch-covered soil and plenty of organic debris that is decomposing.
Although hungry roly polys speed up the breakdown process in the compost pile, they are not the best for young seedlings.
How to Get Rid of Roly Polys
Finding clumps of hundreds of tiny bug-like critters every time crops or flowers are gathered can get tiring in humid places where the growing season and the rainy season are one and the same. A reputable pest control professional will understand how to preserve the ideal balance of the proper numbers of beneficial species in any garden habitat without upsetting the local human population, however, here is a list of ten things we recommend you do to get rid of them.
- Remove anything that will benefit their breeding. Get rid of the damp areas that serve as their nesting grounds. Either they leave or they pass away.
- Make sure your yard is free of any trimmed grass, leaves, fallen fruits, or plant debris. They will serve as a sanctuary for these pests if they are allowed to begin to decompose.
- Use mulch that is permeable to water to help it drain water quickly and prevent the soil from being too wet, which will encourage the growth of these bugs.
- Spray quick-acting botanical insecticides on them if their population growth becomes intolerable, then soak the soil.
- By pruning the vines and building trellises for vine plant varieties that creep on the ground, you may ensure that the plants have adequate air circulation. Fruits won’t be as easily available to bugs because this will raise them off the ground.
- Use pesticides to eradicate the roly polys. But remember that spraying insecticides on vegetables is not advised. Be careful with your crop.
- Applying black plastic mulch will make the area hotter, making it unfavorable for them to stay.
- Water your plants very early in the day so that when these bugs emerge in the evening the soil will be dry, which could will harmful to their survival.
- Neem oil can also be effective as a preventive. Like other pests, pill bugs find the taste of neem repulsive and will get sick from it. Although it is okay for us, it is a moderate toxin for the roly polys.
- One of the easiest solutions is diatomaceous earth of the food grade. The delicate underside of the pill bugs will be torn to pieces by this fine powder formed from diatom shells. It won’t hurt people or plants. To create a barrier that plants won’t cross, sprinkle this around the base of the plants.
There are more extreme measures to take if there are large populations close to your plants. To eliminate extra pill bugs, spinosad sprays like Monterey Garden Insect Spray can be utilized.
Roly Polys Environmental Control
While the aforementioned techniques are effective, you also have other choices to lessen the risk to your plants.
Pill bugs can be lured and moved to a new site. For a few days, leave a tiny amount of trash in your garden. The pill bugs will be attracted to decomposing leaves, maize cobs, or even a half of a cantaloupe. Pick up the trash and gather the bugs to go someplace after a few days.
The protection of potted plants against pill bug attacks is also possible. You may keep bugs away by hanging your potted plants or placing them on a hard surface. The pillbug will effectively be blocked from reaching your plants because they need moisture to survive.
Preventing Roly Polys
There is no foolproof way to keep pill bugs out of the garden. However, you can deter them from residing in your garden beds by keeping them well maintained and removing plant detritus. Avoid giving pill bugs access to nearby habitats next to your garden area.
Instead, confine them to a section of your yard where you may compost. Roly Polys are excellent compost bugs and can be quite helpful while composting. You can attract the bugs to leaf mold or a regular pile or bin that you’re using to compost. They won’t thrive in compost tumblers, so don’t put them inside.
You can also let them live in areas where they won’t do much harm. For instance, you might never notice grass being nibbled by pill bugs that are hiding along the perimeter of your yard. Another excellent place is below old trees that don’t have any plantings.
Roly polys are not a danger to your vegetable garden, after all. You can even use them to your advantage with compost piles and perennial mulches with proper maintenance. And since they don’t spread any diseases, you can keep them in your garden, but always in a controlled population.