Do you have problems with pill bugs? Try these organic methods to keep this common garden pest from devouring your seedlings and crops.
Gardening organically is important for maintaining a healthy soil food web that can provide us with plenty of healthy, delicious, and nutritious garden produce.
Unfortunately garden pests (including pill bugs) don’t always want to cooperate, so what can you do to keep these pests at bay without introducing harmful chemicals?
Growing an organic garden may require a bit more attention than a conventional garden. Instead of spraying a broad spectrum insecticide, you will want to first figure out what kinds of pests are causing a problem in your garden. One good way to do this is to catch pests in the act by checking it with a flashlight in the evening or early morning hours. When it’s cool and damp outside is when you will find most garden pests chowing down on your plants.
Once you know what pest you are dealing with, you can implement a targeted approach to eliminate or reduce the damage-causing insect, without disrupting other beneficial insects that may be at work in the same area.
Pill bugs (also known as sow bugs or “roly poly’s”) sometimes cause no issues in the garden at all, but often (especially in damp areas or cool weather), they may feed on your garden fruit that rests on the ground (such as melons, squash, etc.), or they may even completely devour newly planted seedlings.
If you know that pill bugs are causing a problem in your garden, it’s time to try the potato trap.
How to Make a Potato Trap for Pill Bugs
- Take an old potato and cut it in half.
- In each of the halves scoop out a depression.
- Then take the potato and place the cut side into the soil in the problem areas.
- Give the traps about a day or more to allow for the bugs to come up and begin eating them.
- The best time to empty your traps is in the morning. Carefully lift out the potato, in the hollow you should find lots of pill bugs eating the potato. If you have chickens, they will love this buggy feast! If you don’t have chickens, make sure to dispose of these bugs in an area where they cannot get back to your garden.
If you find that you need another organic pill bug control, we would recommend the organic-approved product Sluggo Plus. In our gardens this is commonly used to bait all of the little bugs that like to munch on our prized leafy greens. Sluggo Plus kills earwigs, cutworms, sowbugs, pillbugs, slugs, and snails. The best time to bait is after you have watered. Watering the garden will dilute the bait. Make sure to reapply after a few waterings (or a good rain). This will help your garden recover from a pill bug invasion of epic proportions!
If you don’t have a potato or Sluggo Plus easily available, another great option to use is a cantaloupe rind. Simply save the rind from your cantaloupe and settle it into the soil, rind down and pat it into the soil a little bit. It can be checked just like the potato trap. In my opinion, these organic pill bug trap don’t last as long as the potato trap, but it will still get the job done!
What is your favorite organic pill bug control method that you use in your garden? Tell me all about it in the comments section!
And if you have another pest you are struggling with, or want to learn more about how to prevent garden pests using natural and organic methods, make sure to sign up for the free High Performance Garden Show. This 33 week exploration of weed-free, super productive, organic gardening methods is a gift from us to your backyard. Get started by clicking the link below!