What’s the Difference Between Pillbugs vs. Sowbugs?


Like many residents in or around Seattle, you may find a gray, pill-shaped creature creeping through your yard, garden, or home. From “roly-poly” to “doodlebug,” there are plenty of names used to describe this critter.

However, what you think is a pillbug may actually be a sowbug, a similar but separate species. Curious to learn the difference between the two, and why they may wander into your home? Trust PURCOR to help you discover if you’re dealing with pillbugs or sowbugs.

Regardless of which species has sneaked into your Washington home, no one wants to find pests in or around their living space. If you have any questions or concerns about a potential pillbug or sowbug infestation, contact our pest experts today.

What are pillbugs and sowbugs?

Despite their names, these two creatures aren’t “bugs” at all. In fact, they’re considered isopods, or non-insect arthropods. Other examples of non-insect arthropods include millipedes, centipedes, and even shrimp. Both sowbugs and pillbugs are officially known as “woodlice,” as they’re often found under fallen logs or other wooden materials.

Sowbugs and pillbugs are gray, oval-shaped, and measure about a centimeter in length. Each almost resembles an armadillo, as they’re covered in armored plates that mimic those of the large mammal.

Similarly to their distant relatives, the millipedes and centipedes, pillbugs and sowbugs prefer dark, cool areas—such as under leaves, logs, or rocks. Occasionally, they may wander into your garden, basement, or garage.

How can you tell pillbugs and sowbugs apart?

If you’re wondering the difference between pillbugs and sowbugs, you’re not alone. Due to their similar appearance, telling them apart at a glance is nearly impossible, but there are a couple of telltale signs.

First, only pillbugs can curl into balls. If you poke an unidentified woodlouse and it scuttles away instead of curling up, you’ve likely found a sowbug. Secondly, sowbugs have more jagged edges around their armored plates and have two tail-like appendages at the ends of their bodies. Still not sure what kind of woodlouse you’ve discovered in your home? Give PURCOR a call; we’ll gladly help identify your pest.

Are pillbugs and sowbugs dangerous?

Pillbugs and sowbugs are completely harmless, as they cannot bite or sting. Additionally, they can’t chew on wood, spread diseases, or damage your belongings. They can, however, become a nuisance by infesting the damp wooden structures in your basement or garage. Sowbugs and pillbugs eat decaying plant matter and occasionally living plants but cannot seriously harm your garden or houseplants.

Tips for Preventing Pillbugs and Sowbugs

As unwanted guests in search of damp wood to call home, the best way to prevent sowbugs and pillbugs from invading your home is to keep it dry. From having a proper drainage system around your foundation to using a dehumidifier or fan in your basement, preventing moisture can help stop these nuisances and more serious pests (like cockroaches) from wandering onto your property.

In addition, ensuring that your home is properly sealed is crucial to preventing pests of any kind from scuttling or scurrying their way indoors. Be sure to seal cracks and holes around windowsills, doors, and even air vents to avoid potential infestations.

Not sure where to begin with sowbug- and pillbug-proofing your home? Request a free evaluation from one of our experienced pest control pros.

Environmentally-Friendly Pest Control from PURCOR

As local pest control experts, we understand how critical it is to protect our friends and neighbors from pests without harming the environment. When you choose our effective residential or commercial pest control solutions, you’ll enjoy the peace of mind that only comes from professionals committed to eliminating unwanted guests without negatively impacting the environment.

From placing traps and monitors to creating undesirable conditions in and surrounding your home, we do everything we can to get rid of and prevent pests while using as little pesticide as possible. Whether you’re dealing with pillbugs, sowbugs, or another kind of pest in the Seattle metropolitan area, PURCOR has got you covered. Start living pest-free in Washington state today—request your free pest control quote today!

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