Commonly known as "roly polies," pillbugs are land-dwelling crustaceans. More closely related to crayfish than garden insects, they even have gills. About 1/3 inch in length, pillbugs come in colors from steel gray and brown to purple-black. Their habit of rolling up into tiny pill-like balls inspires their common name.

Often mistaken for sowbugs, pillbugs have rounded backs, seven pairs of legs and overlapping scales reminiscent of armadillos. Though pillbugs and sowbugs look alike, they're easy to tell apart. Sowbugs have two tail-like structures that pillbugs lack — and sowbugs don't roll into balls.


Pillbugs normally feed on decomposing plant and leaf litter. They're nighttime feeders that stay hidden in damp areas most of the time. Their numbers increase substantially during years with wet weather. When that happens, pillbug diets turn to garden seedlings and small plants.

Pillbugs' chewing, rasping mouthparts leave plants looking like a rasp scraped the outer layer. In dry years, pillbugs move into homes in search of cool, damp shelter. They don't live long in dry indoor conditions. The primary sign of pillbug activity in your garden or home is seeing the pests themselves.


Most pillbugs go unnoticed until you disrupt their hiding places and find a mass of these pests feeding on decaying plant debris. Effective pillbug control protects young plants and stops these pests before they come indoors. Amdro® brand offers several easy-to-use products to help you kill pillbugs before problems arise:

  • Amdro Quick Kill® Lawn Insect Killer Granules II provides full-lawn pillbug control. Apply the granules with a standard lawn spreader, then water the treated area lightly. The soil-penetrating formula kills pillbugs within 24 hours and keeps killing them for up to three months.
  • Amdro Quick Kill Home Perimeter Insect Killer Granules are ideal for protecting the area directly around your home. Available in a convenient shaker container, the fast-acting formula creates a band of protection to kill pillbugs by contact and keep protecting your home against these pests for up to three months.
  • Amdro Quick Kill Outdoor Insect Killer, available in concentrate and ready-to-spray formulas, works in minutes to kill pillbugs by contact and keeps killing these pests for up to three months. Use it on lawns, trees, shrubs and flower gardens. You can also treat your home's foundation up to a height of 3 feet.


Even though they live on land, pillbugs need moisture like their crustaceous cousins. Keep your property free of decaying plant debris and leaky faucets or drain spouts. Seal any foundation cracks and crevices to keep pillbugs outdoors.

Always read product labels and follow the instructions carefully.
Amdro and Amdro Quick Kill are registered trademarks of Central Garden & Pet Company.

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