When soil conditions are moist, the sow bug population explodes and some accidentally take up residence in homes
Sow bugs really do prefer the outdoors, but in high moisture conditions, such as after heavy rains, they may find themselves stuck in your home. When you see them, that's an indication there is a population explosion outside. Don't worry, they're a nuisance and harmless.
A most interesting fact about sow bugs is that they're not insects at all. They belong to a group of crustaceans called isopods. Their closer relations are shrimp.
Sow bugs and pill bugs (affectionately called rolly-polies) are similar in body style. Sow bugs are larger and cannot roll into a ball. They sport a forked appendage at the rear, seven leg pairs, and antennae at the front. They move quickly, but when indoors, not for very long. Sow bugs, also known as wood lice, simply can't survive in dry conditions. They are perfectly harmless and will do no damage to your home or anything inside it. There is no danger of spreading disease or invading food sources.
The larger complication, however, lies in why they're inside. It could be a simple matter of overcrowding outdoors. On the other hand, it could indicate a moisture problem somewhere inside your home. Sow bugs are particularly fond of basements for this reason. Their need for damp places lies in the fact that they have gills. That is what can potentially lead to real damage. In essence, the presence of sow bugs may be sounding a silent alarm to a more disastrous situation. Any wet or damp areas in the home can also become infested with other less-than-harmless characters.
More often, however, it is a matter of eliminating an outside problem. Sow bugs love leaf litter. Any spot where debris accumulates, you'll probably find them on the undersides. Check around the home's exterior and remove any mulch that may be within twelve inches of the foundation. If you can find a source or a breeding area, then you may be able to purchase a pesticide. Check the label as it may state sow bugs are included.
To prevent access, insulate and caulk around doors and windows. Reduce your home's humidity level if practical. Use bathroom vents when showering. Clear out gutters and downspouts. If you have windowbox planters, remove them. The undersides of plant containers on decks are also favorite spots.
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