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Monday, July 6, 2015

Sowbugs, Pillbugs a Problem in Wet Gardens

Q. I took your advice and am treating these nasty critters like slugs......have drowned and/or gotten them drunk. But, they keep coming. I have two bowls with  about 100+ critters in each every morning. My neighbor has been giving me his old cans of beer. I had to dig up the rhubarb plants and put them in pots. This is sure a frustrating year.  Hope you are having more luck.

A. I am sorry to hear you're having such a problem with these critters. Maybe I can add my two cents. These critters are crustaceans, in the same classification as lobsters and crayfish. They have gills and so must have a wet environment to stay alive.
Anything in the garden that keeps moisture on the surface of the soil and around plants is going to encourage them. Likewise, they will want to hide during the daytime underthings that collect moisture such as mulches, newspaper late on the soil surface, boards on the soil surface, etc. sometimes just laying these items on the soil surface and removing them during the day followed by some light vacuuming with a cordless vacuum can provide some control.
As far as chemicals are concerned, I see diatomaceous earth recommend a lot. The problem
with this is it cannot handle wet environments. Neither can these critters so they are kind of mutually exclusive of each other. As far as pesticides go the natural products containing pyrethrum is supposed to work.
Heavier duty insecticides such as the synthetic pyrethrins which end in -thrin in the ingredients should also work. I saw a report that the insecticide Sevin (carbaryl) will also work. I hope this gives you some other options.

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