Rampant Pill bugs eating live plants


We are in East York and have a west facing house. We get extreme sun in the afternoon and have Sandy soil. Since moved in (5 years ago), there have been extensive pill bugs in our gardens (front and back). Although everything I have read suggests that pill bugs will not eat live vegetation, we have an enormous amount of pill bugs and they eat healthy plants to their death. Any new plants and any plants with ‘soft’ leaves are eaten to the point of dying. Once one plant is dead they move onto the next. I’ve tried beer traps to catch them but there are so many that it does not stop the damage they do. Our front built in garden next to the house seems to suffer the worse damage. What can I do to stop the damage/cull the pill bug numbers?

Thank you!


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your question on Pill Bugs.

Both sow bugs and pill bugs can eat live vegetation, especially young shoots, plants near the ground, or plants damaged by slugs are also an invitation.

Reommended controls;

Apply diatomaceous earth on suspect areas, (which will also help control slugs).

Limit moist, dark hiding places. Clean up organic debris, boards, boxes and piles of leaves around the yard and garden.

Water early in the day so plants and the soil surface dries out by the evening when sow or pill bugs are active.

Mulch with coarse materials, so water passes through to the soil quickly.

Start seedlings indoors, then to maintain good drainage, transplant seedlings into the garden so that the soil around seedlings is higher than surrounding garden soil.

Good luck controlling these critters.