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12 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Pill Bugs (Rollie Pollies)

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13 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Pill Bugs (Rollie Pollies)

Scavengers that also go by the name rollie pollies, pill bugs roll up into a ball when disturbed. You may find them under rocks, logs, fallen leaves, or other dark, humid places.

Pillbugs (Armadillidium vulgare) are crustaceans and do have their uses by mostly feeding on dead or decaying organic material [1]. However, an infestation can cause problems in the garden as these critters may also eat seedlings and plant roots.

Moreover, seeing them inside the house means there is a large population outdoors. Below are tips on how to get rid of pill bugs naturally.

1. Beer Trap

Any type of beer will attract pillbugs. Fill a plastic cup or bowl with beer and sink it into the ground.

The rim of the cup should be in line with the surface of the ground so the bugs can crawl in and drown. Remove and replace the beer once you are satisfied with the number of bugs inside.

2. Remove Mulch and Dead Plant Matter 

The rolly pollies bug thrives on rotting vegetables, mulch, and other decomposed plant matter. Therefore, removing these materials from the garden and around the house will deter these creatures.

3. Diatomaceous Earth

Another home remedy to get rid of rollie pollies naturally is diatomaceous earth (DE). One of its uses being an organic insecticide, sprinkle onto damp areas in the house where pill bugs congregate.

Diatomaceous earth will absorb the moisture attracting them. The sharp edges of the substance will also cut into the critters, dehydrate and kill them.

You can also spread it around seedling trays and potted houseplants. However, use food-grade diatomaceous earth to get rid of pill bugs inside the house and vegetable garden.

4. Dry Up Moist Areas

As with all living things, the roly poly insect needs moisture to survive and thrive.

As a result, drying up damp areas in the house or where there is run-off from water on outside walls is important. This will likely be more effective at keeping the house free of these pests than any chemical spray.

5. Garlic Spray

A solution of crushed garlic and water sprayed liberally on and around roll up bugs deter them.

Make a homemade pill bug spray by combining one tablespoon of crushed garlic in a quart of water.

Spray the solution on the pests and in areas where you see them. Garlic spray works well to get rid of pill bugs organically.

6. Potato Trap

Full of moisture and food, roly poly bugs are easily attracted to this DIY method.

Cut some potatoes in half and spoon away some to make depressions in each piece. Next, place the cut side down in the soil or infested areas and leave for a day or two before removing.

On checking in the morning, there should be plenty of rollie pollies underneath the potato bait. Finally, remove the potatoes and bugs and dispose of them.

7. Sluggo Plus

This commercial product contains Spinosad, a naturally occurring soil bacterium that controls pill bugs, slugs, sowbugs, earwigs, snails, and other pests.

Sluggo also contains iron phosphates that disrupt the feeding pattern of some insects, leading to starvation and death. It is considered an organic method of pest control.

Sluggo is in a pelleted formula and comes in a shaker-top container for easy use. If using on the soil, damp the ground first and then sprinkle the pellets around the targeted area.

Manufacturers advise not to use more than 3 times in a month and not within 3 days of harvesting any infected edible plants. Also, apply in the evening for safety and effectiveness.

You can also use it along with a slug saloon container for indoor and greenhouse problem areas.

8. Essentria IC-3

This product is a combination of essential oils including rosemary, peppermint, and geraniol. It has a quick action knockdown effect on flying insects and a long-term residual effect on crawling pests.

Essentria is a powerful insecticide but one that is natural and safe to use in the home, in schools, and in public places.

Prepared as directed on the product’s information leaflet, mist the solution around buildings, vehicles, and problem areas.

Essentria will eliminate pill bugs. Moreover, it is effective against many other insect pests.

9. Bonide Bug & Slug Killer

Bonide is an excellent product to take care of a roly poly infestation. It also comes in pellet form for those who prefer not to spray. This product kills rollie pollie bugs and is effective against other types of crawling insects.

The active ingredients are Spinosad and iron phosphate. Although not toxic to humans and pets, it can be an irritant. Therefore, use it according to instructions and keep away from children.

Sprinkle it as a barrier around the areas you want to protect. Reapply after heavy rain or watering.

10. Cornmeal

One other popular natural remedy to get rid of rolly pollies in your garden is cornmeal.

Fill a plastic food bag or container with cornmeal and make holes big enough for the critters to enter.

The ingested cornmeal will kill pill bugs. You can then dispose of the bags and place new ones around infestation areas.

11. Coffee Grounds

This is a useful and inexpensive method for coffee drinkers to use in their gardens.

Spread a ring around plants to protect seedlings and young growth, burnt grounds are even better. This is more of a way of deterring the bugs rather than killing them. Additionally, coffee grounds contain caffeine that repels ants and other pests.

Use saucers or bowls of coffee grounds near an indoor pill bug infestation to repel them.

12. Neem Oil

Neem oil will help clear up many pest problems. It is mildly poisonous to pill bugs and will also keep fungal plant diseases at bay.

Furthermore, you can easily obtain it commercially as an organic pest control product.

13. Natural Predators

There are plenty of creatures that prey upon pill bugs. Common pill bug predators include frogs, birds, spiders, centipedes, lizards, and ants.


Will Soapy Water Kill Pill Bugs?

No, it will not. Plain soap and water solution is effective in killing small, soft-bodied insects. As a result, it will not harm pill bugs because of their shell-like protective covering.

Does Vinegar Kill Them?

Vinegar can be used to get rid of some insects like ants, fruit flies, and aphids. However, its acidity is not potent enough to penetrate the pill bug’s hard shell-like exoskeleton.


Roly poly pill bugs feed on dead plants and other organic matter and can serve a useful purpose in the garden. However, often confused with sowbugs (that cannot roll up), they can become a nuisance.

Whether you call them sal bugs, the rollie pollie ollie bug, or ball bug, these natural methods will help control them.

See also: how to get rid of roaches naturally.

Image via wikimedia.org

Sasha Brown

Blogger and lover of all things natural.

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