How to kill pill bugs and sow bugs

My California vegetable garden makes me happy and provides us with nourishment each year. My biggest obstacle though is fending off a few miserable enemies early in the season. Pill bugs (also known as a sow bug or roly poly) are vicious in my back yard and last year they ate the tops off all my tender greens as soon as they poked through the soil.

When I told my mom about my infestation, she thought I was insane. She never experienced pill bugs in her Michigan garden and she didn’t know they are so damaging to vegetables. I sent her photos of the nasty critters devouring stalk after stalk of new growth.

How to kill pill bugs?

After trying a few home remedies, like sprinkling coffee grounds on the soil, I found some online discussion around using Sluggo Plus which I quickly bought at my local Home Depot. You’ll also find a product called Sluggo, but trust me, you want the Sluggo Plus. The packaging notes that it’s for organic gardening although I’m sure there could be some debate around whether it’s truly an organic product. I don’t get into such debates … so, on to the results.

Within minutes of sprinkling the pellets around my plants, the pill bugs practically ran to the pellets and gorged themselves on the bait. My photos don’t lie …

Pill bug chowing down on Sluggo Plus pellets.

It’s so yummy …

Within the first week I went from hundreds of pill bugs to only a few. I saved my vegetable plants almost overnight. If anyone is looking for ways to manage pill bugs (calling them rollie pollies sounds way too cute) I highly recommend giving Sluggo Plus a try. I’ll be stocking up on it this year and will sprinkle it proactively!

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  1. Highly effective photos! I’ll remember Sluggo plus. I am bothered by slugs more than pill bugs, but I’m betting the product is excellent on slugs. Are you the fellow who had a blog called eating out about nine or 10 years ago? If so welcome back; I loved your blog then and look forward to more entries!

  2. Yes, it’s me – I’m flattered you remember me from back then! I started the blog in 2007 and was fairly faithful to it until about 5 or so years ago. I noticed a few things broken on the blog yesterday so decided to clean it up a bit which inspired me to put up a post.

    This past weekend I was thinking about my garden and getting ready for this season. I planted a few items this winter that did really well (chard, green beans, peas) and didn’t have a single pest issue. However, I know that this spring the pill bugs will wake up and be active again, which means I need to restock on the Sluggo Plus.

    And yes, Sluggo Plus should be great for slugs as well. Our yard used to be quite damp and heavily shaded so we had a huge issue with slugs and snails. At that time I used Sluggo which worked well. We eventually changed our landscaping and the slugs/snails subsided.

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