5 Tips to Keep Pill Bugs out of Your Home

Updated July 27, 2021
Woman vacuums carpet
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If you're tired of seeing pill bugs on your floor, use these tips to get rid of them for good.

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No matter what name you call them—pill bugs, roly-polys, or potato bugs—one thing’s for sure: they don’t belong in your home. Learn how to get rid of pill bugs and defend your home against these uninvited guests. From vacuuming to sealant, you can get rid of roly-polys with items you probably already have in your home.

1. Research the Type of Bug in Your Home or Yard

Are you sure you have roly-polys—or could it be carpet beetles or some other pest? Getting rid of pill bugs and other household pests starts with identifying exactly what you’re dealing with. 

So you’ll want to up your entomology game and do a bit of research to help you recognize the species of pest invading your space. For example, different species will inhabit different areas, usually because of variations in the food sources those spaces provide. The critters in your garden and leaf litter will differ from the pests in your home.

Correctly identifying the insect will help you learn what attracts them, what nourishes them, and, best of all, what kills or repels them.

How to Identify Pill Bugs

You can usually identify pill bugs fairly quickly based on their odd appearance and even odder behavior (for a bug, that is). These little gray, brown, or black critters characteristically roll into a tiny ball when threatened—hence the “roly-poly” name. 

And if you want to impress your friends and intimidate your foes with your massive bug knowledge, remember this: Pill bugs actually aren’t “bugs” at all. Though they look like insects, they’re more closely related to shrimp and crayfish. Roly polys are small crustaceans from the armadillidiidae family. They breathe through gills and require moist environments to survive.

2. Look for Moisture Sources in Your Home or Yard

Pill bugs like moisture—in fact, they need it to thrive in your room. And while they can’t live in water-logged environments, they will seek out any leaks or gaps in your doors where water can sneak in.

To prevent your home from becoming the destination spot for every roly-poly within a 10 mile radius, you’ll want to manage moisture levels in your home. Though they can’t live in water, they also can’t survive for more than about a day without moisture. 

Make sure to quickly mop or vacuum any damp or wet spots in your home. And, while you’re at it, go ahead and vacuum up any of the critters you may find before they can settle in. Daily mopping and vacuuming until you get the issue under control will help.

3. Seal or Caulk Any Vulnerable Areas to Keep Bugs Out

Caulking door frame
By undefined via iStock / Getty Images Plus

To get rid of pill bugs, you need to seal them out. Pill bugs usually enter the house through crevices or expansion cracks, especially near your home’s basement or foundation. So take the time to inspect these areas, as well as your floors and footers. 

Apply caulk or sealant to any cracks, gaps, or crevices to build a protective barrier from pill bug invasion. After all, every castle needs a sturdy castle wall.

4. Remove Roly-Poly Food Sources

You’re not the only one who enjoys a good midnight snack or a hearty afternoon buffet. Pill bugs have their own appetites, and if you want to keep your home free of them, then make sure you’re not ringing the roly-poly dinner bell.

Roly-polys thrive on microorganisms that live in soft, decaying materials, such as old wood logs and piles of plant debris. Mulch attracts them as well. If you can remove any of this from your yard, it could help to reduce the amount of pill bugs that eventually make their way into your home.

5. Use Insecticide to Get Rid of Pill Bugs

While pill bugs don’t bite, sting, or carry any harmful diseases, you still may not want them in your home. If all other methods fail, insecticides can be a good option. Pest control will help rid your home of pill bugs and any other possible pest infestations in your house, mulch, or lawn.

An option for getting rid of pill bugs and other creepy crawlies is diatomaceous earth (DE). This is a more natural solution for killing insects—but it should not be directly inhaled by people or pets. However, make sure you’re using food-grade DE if you plan to apply it anywhere your little ones or furry friends may be. 

And if you’re not sure which treatment options are safest and most effective for getting rid of pill bugs, consult with a local pest control professional. Depending on the size of the area treated, you can usually bring in a pro to help you deal with your pill bug problem for between $100 and $300.

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