What are Sowbugs?
Picture of Israel Alvarez
Israel Alvarez

Owner @ Insight Pest Management

Table of Contents

If you are finding small, armadillo-like bugs inside or around your home, chances are you have found a sowbug. Also known as woodlouse, the sowbug is not really a bug at all, but actually, a land-dwelling crustacean more closely related to a shrimp or lobster. While sowbugs are often confused with another similar creature, the pillbug or “roly-polies,” some distinct differences exist.

Here we take an in-depth look at the sowbug and what their presence may mean to homeowners.

Key takeaways

  • Sowbugs are not really insects at all, and while you may find them occasionally in your yard or home, they are not typically considered a pest.
  • Sowbugs are considered land-dwelling crustaceans or isopods, and, like their water-dwelling relatives, they rely on water and moisture to survive. If they move indoors, they are likely seeking a water source.
  • Unlike pillbugs or roly-polies, sowbugs will not roll up into ball form when threatened.

Identifying sowbugs

Learning how to identify sowbugs can help you identify a potential problem and keep them from finding their way into your home in search of food and water.

Physical appearance

Sowbugs are dark gray to brown in color, with an oval body made up of overlapping, armor-like plates. They have seven pairs of legs and two pairs of antennae. In addition, they have two tail-like appendages at the back. They measure less than a centimeter in size.


Sowbugs can be found throughout the United States, especially in areas with increased humidity and moisture. Though not occurring often, these pests can move inside your home if there is enough moisture and humidity, as well as a food source.


Sowbugs cannot store moisture in their bodies, so they require a constant moisture source to survive. Outdoors, you are most likely to find sowbugs underneath logs, rocks, leaf litter, mulch, and inside flower pots. In order to conserve moisture, they usually do not venture out from these places during the day and are most active at night.

If sowbugs move indoors, they are looking for a source of food and water. Chances are you will find them in a dark area with high humidity, such as a damp basement or crawl space.


Sowbugs are scavengers and feed on decomposing plant material and organic matter. They are often found under mulch in flower beds looking for food. Oftentimes, they enter homes in the soil of new houseplants they feed off of. In addition, they will make their way into garbage cans in the search of decaying matter.

How to control and prevent sowbugs

If you notice sowbugs are moving into your home, there are some things you can do to deter their presence. Because these pests require moisture, the number one thing you can do to keep sowbugs at bay is to reduce the moisture inside your home. This can include running a home dehumidifier and ensuring that all plumbing is in good shape and not leaking. Sowbugs can enter your home through doors, windows, and cracks in the foundation. Make sure all these areas are well-sealed with caulk to keep sowbugs and other pests from making entry.

There are also steps you can take to reduce the presence of sowbugs in your garden as well. Use mulch that allows water to easily pass through and keeps dampness to a minimum. Remove rocks or logs where sowbugs tend to hide and clean out garbage bins on a regular basis.

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Frequently asked questions

Here we answer some frequently asked questions about sowbugs, whether they pose any risks, or what may be attracting them to your home.

Are sowbugs harmful?

Sowbugs are not considered harmful at all and, in terms of pest control, are only considered a nuisance. In large infestations, they can cause harm to young seedlings and newly established vegetation. In most cases, they are actually beneficial and feed on decaying plant material and vegetation.

Do sowbugs bite?

Sowbugs do not bite, sting, or spread germs or diseases to humans, so they are not considered a threat in any way. They also are not destructive and will not cause any structural damage like termites or rodents may do. Sowbugs are technically not considered a pest of concern but rather a nuisance.

Why do I have sowbugs?

If you are finding sowbugs in your home, chances are you are providing a humid, moisture-rich environment that the sowbugs are unable to find outside or that you have a large sowbug infestation outside that is pushing them in. Chances are, however, sowbugs will not stay for very long as food sources are likely scarce for this pest. They will enter your home through cracks in the foundation or through ground-level doors and windows, so make sure these areas are well-sealed in order to prevent their point of entry. Following some easy steps, such as adding a dehumidifier to your home, can help make your home less appealing to the local sowbug population.

Sowbugs pose no threat to humans

While the presence of sowbugs in your home may be unsettling, they will not cause harm or damage and, in most cases, would rather be outside in a cool, moist, and dark hiding spot where they have easy access to a food source. Keeping the humidity down in your home is likely to help keep the sowbugs from coming in and sharing your space.

We can address nuisance pests

Sowbugs are what we consider to be nuisance pests. While they pose no harm to humans or pets, their presence inside the home can be unsettling. At Insight Pest Management, we specialize in the removal and control of all pests in our area, even nuisance pests like sowbugs. To learn more about how er can help reduce the sowbug population in your garden and home, schedule an appointment today.

Serving all of Ventura County

Locally owned and family operated, we are a top-rated pest and bug control company that uses state-of-the-art equipment to help ensure that pests are located and eliminated. But it doesn’t stop there! Pest prevention is one of the most important parts of pest and bug control. 

Our expert technicians work to ensure that all potential pest entry points are sealed and offer routine treatment options to help ensure your home or business stays protected from future infestations. You don’t have to share your home or business with pests any longer! If you live in the Ventura County area, let the team at Insight Pest Management help you say goodbye to pests once and for all!

Contact us today to schedule a FREE evaluation!

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