There are many pests which are drawn to areas where moisture accumulates. Moisture allows many things to thrive; it is the basic ingredient for life. Besides the thousands of microscopic organisms, many insects and other creatures will readily live where it is damp. Among these creatures is the pillbug. This article will explain some basic biology of this isopod and explain how to treat local infestations.


Related articles:        CENTIPEDES        EARWIGS        MILLIPEDES        SCORPIONS        SLUGS        SOWBUGS        SPIDERS

Other information:      PEST ARTICLES



Pillbugs are small, about 1/2″ to 3/4″ in length, gray in color and oval. They live under rocks, logs, mulch, wood chips and all around the home where it is damp, dark and moist. Generally you may see hundreds or thousands of them emerge when you attempt to do some gardening and begin to disturb the soil. Though generally not a destructive pest, pillbugs will readily move under slabs, into doorways and window frames which are accumulating moisture. Moisture may form due to leaks or condensation and with this moisture comes mold, mildew and algae – the basic food stuff of these pests. Established colonies of pillbugs will move inside when moisture levels are too high or to seek relief from both cold or heat. It is when they migrate into living areas that people first notice just how bad of a problem they have.

The pillbug is unique in that it can roll into a round ball thus achieving a good defensive position. Pillbugs will bear young at least twice a year and carry them until the young are able to keep up with the rest of the colony. Though the young may leave mother from time to time, it is not uncommon for them to come back and allow her to bear their burden for as long as she can. As food supplies dwindle, colonies will relocate and forage to adjacent areas that meet dietary needs. Most feeding will be done during the night and due to their behavior traits, many people refer to them as “water bugs”.



Controlling these isopods should be done in a two phase format. First, try to identify moisture problems. If you have a leaky window, roof or bad caulking, get it fixed. This constant supply of water will allow mold and algae to grow as well as take away the best impact chemical treatments will have. In effect the moisture will allow the pest to be ever present – the ones you kill will quickly be replaced by ones seeking shelter and food. If the local conditions are OK but you have a lot of mulch, rock, pine straw, wood chips or other objects around the perimeter of the home, expect to have some activity by pillbugs. However, there are several treatments that can be done to help minimize those that find their way into your home.



Scatterbox HB Granule SpreaderTalstar PLFirst, you must focus on the outside. This is where they start and if you diminish these numbers you will ultimately eliminate the ones finding their way inside. Apply TALSTAR GRANULES to all the mulch beds and turf around the home. Talstar is slow to act but will last 2-3 months per application. Use about 1 lb on each side of the home applying it over a 10 foot band. This “zone” will be pest free since Talstar will control just about any pest. Do this treatment quarterly or as needed. Use a SCATTERBOX to do the application. This will allow for consistent and complete coverage.

Talstar PLTalstar Granules: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/granule/talstar-pl-25-lb

Scatterbox HB Granule SpreaderSpreaders:  http://www.bugspraycart.com/equipment/spreaders/scatterbox-spreader



Pump SprayerD-Fense SCTalstar LiquidNext, spray the foundation with a good concentrate like TALSTAR or DEFENSE SC.  These flowable concentrates are unique in that they stay on the surface of porous substrate like cement and wood much longer when compared to emulsifiable concentrates. Use one of our PUMP SPRAYERS to apply the material and be sure to treat a band on the foundation of the home coming up at least 3 feet high. This insures there will be plenty of treated surface area over which they will not be able to crawl.

Talstar LiquidTalstar: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/liquid/talstar

D-Fense SCD-fense SC: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/liquid/d-fense-sc.html

Pump SprayerPump Sprayer: http://www.bugspraycart.com/good/pump-sprayers


Spray 1 foot out from the home on top of the turf or mulch as well, ending where the Talstar Granules will be active. Since mulch, siding and plants are where these pests like to live, treatment needs to address these locations around the structure. Do this at least once a month. When local activity has ceased, you may be able to go a little longer between treatments.



If you have a lot of activity in the home, garage or basement, inside treatments will be necessary. Use the Talstar inside to treat baseboards. Be sure to keep children and pets away until the application dries.

PT-PhantomD-Force AerosolIf you feel they are nesting in wall voids or difficult to treat cracks and crevices, get some DFORCE AEROSOL or PHANTOM AEROSOL. Both these product comes with an injecting straw tube which allows you to inject the material into cracks and crevices.

D-Force AerosolD-Force:  http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/aerosol/d-force-14-oz-aerosol

PT-PhantomPhantom Aerosol: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/aerosol/pt-phantom-17-5oz


Dforce will kill them quickly since it’s both a contact killer and a flushing agent. It has an odor but for some people, this is okay since it kills fast.

Phantom is odorless and goes on “dry”. This makes it ideal for use inside – especially if you have anything other than carpet (like wood floors, ceramic tiles, vinyl, etc.). But Phantom doesn’t work quickly. It will take a good 1-2 days to see results so don’t panic if you don’t see them crawling out and die right after spraying. This is perfectly normal and should be expected.

When combined with outside treatments, you should be able to eliminate any activity in and around the home quickly.

Pillbugs can become a problem in and around the home. Though they don’t cause major damage, they can be a pest. Use Talstar Granules and Talstar Flowable outside to kill off local infestations. Eliminate moisture for long term control. Treat cracks and crevices inside with Dforce Aerosol to quickly control any which are nesting in the home.


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Comments on PILLBUG CONTROL Leave a Comment

February 13, 2013

Lesley @ 2:04 pm #


I have been using “spectracide” inside/outside bug spray.. these pillbugs are loving my bathroom. It seems the more I spray the more these bugs come back in. I don’t know what else to do. Please help me.. thank you. Lesley

April 14, 2013

Nicole @ 8:04 am #


I have pill bugs invading my living room most commonly seen on the tile or carpet around my gas fireplace. I fear they are coming up from the basement through a nearby vent. Is there anything I should use??? Because the vent cannot be blocked off.

January 24, 2014

rich lehman @ 5:54 pm #


I am having heavy concentrations of pillbugs in the new home I bought. I’m still finding them in the winter when temp gets above 40. I am using talstar granules and spray I have left over from you from old property. I think they are coming in under the vinyl siding. The house had been vacant awhile and the eves were draining into the foundation which I am sure was helping to build up the population. I realize it will take awhile to get the population under control but I would really like to stop the movement into the home from the siding or even basement patio door. Is their a dust I can use down at the bottom of the vinyl siding? Any other thoughts? Thanks.

January 25, 2014

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