Pillbugs, scientifically known as Armadillidium vulgare, have interesting habits contributing to their unique behavior. This pest is the only crustacean that has completely adapted to spending life on land. Pillbugs have oval bodies and seven pairs of legs. They are easily recognized by their back, which is made up of seven hard individual plates. Pillbugs are sometimes referred to as rollie-pollies or roly polies.


Pest Facts

Dark brown to black


Oval; round when rolled up

3/4 inch



North America, All 50 states in the USA


Pillbugs are primarily nocturnal creatures, being most active during the night. They exhibit a remarkable ability to roll up into a tight ball when disturbed, which has earned them their popular nicknames, rollie-pollies or roly polies. Their feeding habits revolve around consuming decaying vegetable material and organic matter, such as leaf litter, grass clippings, and flower pots. They play a significant role in the ecosystem by aiding in the decomposition process.


Pillbugs thrive in moist environments, often found under damp objects or amidst vegetable debris. They seek shelter in dark and damp locations, such as under rocks, logs, or any moist surfaces they can find. Their preference for high humidity levels helps them maintain their moisture balance and survival. Pillbugs also have a brood pouch where eggs hatch, providing a safe environment for their young.


While pillbugs themselves do not spread diseases or invade food products, they can become a nuisance when they gain entry into homes. These pests are small enough to enter through cracks, gaps, or open doors, seeking shelter and moisture. Although they do not cause structural damage or pose direct risks to humans, their presence indoors can be unwanted and cause feelings of discomfort.


Effective prevention is key to managing pillbug infestations. Eliminating potential food sources, such as vegetable or plant debris, is crucial in deterring them from entering homes. Regularly cleaning up fallen leaves, removing decaying plant matter, and ensuring proper disposal of organic waste are essential practices. Additionally, maintaining a dry environment and keeping the perimeter of your home free from damp debris and vegetation can reduce their access points.

Sealing entry points, including gaps around doors, windows, and utility pipes, helps prevent pillbugs from entering living spaces. Repairing damaged screens and ensuring tight seals on windows can also be effective measures. Proper ventilation in basements and crawl spaces can reduce moisture levels, making these areas less attractive to pillbugs.

If pillbugs have already infiltrated your home, simply removing them and preventing their return is often sufficient. As these crustaceans rely on moisture to survive, they are likely to dry out and die indoors due to lower humidity levels. Regular cleaning, vacuuming, and maintaining a dry environment will aid in the elimination of pillbugs and prevent their reinfestation.

It is important to note that all information provided within this text is sourced directly from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), a trusted authority on pest-related matters.