What Do Rolly Pollies Eat? The Cumulative Guide to the Rolly Polly

Written by Pest Control

For those who are unfamiliar with what exactly rolly polly bugs are, rolly polly is just another name for the woodlouse bug. The rolly polly bug is also known as the pill bug, the roll up bug, the sow bug, the armadillidiidae, and the slater too.

This slimy bug is a member of the crustacean family and is like a fish that lives on land. Around a million years ago, these little creatures slowly migrated from the sea and onto land where they live today. Although the majority of crustacean creatures live in large waterbodies or in areas around them, rolly pollies are different. They have breathing organs located on the underside of their bodies. Due to the delicateness of them, they require this damper habitat.

Rolly polly bugs tend to populate on a large scale when the weather is cool and the ground is wet. Although they can be beneficial to your garden, some people simply don’t want them around. To eliminate rolly pollies, there are several effective methods available that don’t involve pesticides. Before you do this though, it’s best to familiarize yourself a little more on the rolly polly.

What do rolly pollies eat ?

Most people don’t have a clue what the rolly polly bugs eats. This is important to know if you’re trying to rid your garden of these bugs or use them to your advantage. So, what do rolly polly bugs eat and drink?

This little bug loves to devour all kinds of dead and decaying material in your garden and other moist places. In addition to this, they also love to eat emerging seedlings. They love emerging seedlings so much that they can eat through an entire bed in just one night. Gardens with leaf litter or compost will get eaten even faster. Other things rolly pollies like to eat include:

Carrot tops

Apple peels

Zucchini

Celery stalks

Sweet potatoes

Grapes

Collard greens

Squash

All of the items listed above are commonly found in a compost post, which is why they’re commonly found in places like this.

Where do rolly pollies live?

The garden is the most common place you’ll find rolly polly bugs. This is because there is so much wet, dead, organic material here. Other places you’ll also find these bugs include underneath logs, in compost piles, in grassy fields, and you may even find them in your basement and your garage too.

Typically, the rolly polly bug usually shows up in large numbers during the spring, but it’s also possible to find also these bugs all the way until late fall.

How long do rolly pollies live?

Rolly pollies tend to live anywhere from 2 to 3 years as long as they are in the right conditions.  Like mentioned before, rolly polly bugs thrive in warm, wet, and damp weather. These are the perfect conditions for them. On the other hand, rolly pollies will die when they try and survive in hot and dry conditions.

So, if you’re trying to take advantage of the benefits that rolly polly bugs have to offer, you’ll want to ensure your compost pile is always moist. If you notice it starting to get try, you can pour a little water on it with the garden hose. Don’t flood your compost pile, just moisten it up a little.

The pros and cons of having rolly polly bugs in your garden or compost pile

Like mentioned above, rolly pollies can eat through an entire bed of emerging seedlings in just one night. In addition to this, they also can eat holes through your growing fruits and vegetables. There’s nothing more frustrating than coming out to check on your plants and realizing that your whole patch is ruined.

Although rolly polly bugs can do quite a bit of damage to your garden, they also have some benefits as well. For starters, rolly polly bugs return nitrates, phosphates, and other necessary nutrients back to the soil. As a result, your soil may be much healthier and grow better plants as a result.


Another benefit of the rolly polly bug is their ability to ingest things that have contaminated the soil. These contaminates usually include heavy metals left in the soil after the area has been mined for coal and drilled for oil. These heavy metals, if left in the ground, could ruin the soil and possibly contaminate the nearby water source.

This is why rolly polly bugs are best suited for compost piles and not your home gardens. If you are having problems with rolly polly bugs eating holes through your fruits and vegetable plants, then there are ways you can eliminate them. However, before you begin the elimination process, it’s best to educate yourself on the right way to do this.

Interesting facts about the rolly polly

Rolly pollies have an armadillo suit, and they can roll into a little ball for protection.

Shrimp, crabs, and lobsters are all related to the rolly polly bug.

These creatures have small gills like a fish. They use these gills to breath from.

The rolly polly bug is know as the isopod by the scientific community.

Rolly pollies have seven sets of legs. This allows them climb and travel efficiently.

How do you eliminate rolly polly bugs?

Although there are multiple ways to eliminate rolly pollies from your garden, it’s best to use a method that’s not going to harm your soil or grass. For instance, pesticides are not a good method, because they will kill both helpful and non-helpful insects and bugs in one shot. You don’t want to eliminate all the bugs and insects. Some are beneficial and some are not.

Another reason why you shouldn’t use pesticides to eliminate polly rolly bugs is because it could possibly kill all the nutrients in the soil. This is one of the worst things you can do to your garden. So, how do you eliminate rolly pollies the right way?

Example of a beer trap for slugs and bugs.

One of the easiest methods is inserting a dish filled with beer in the soil. Insert the dish, so the lip of the dish is level with the ground. The dish of beer will attract the bugs, and they’ll crawl into the dish and drown themselves.

Another method of eliminating the rollie polly bug is by using preventive measures. For example, if you eradicate their habitat, then they’ll go and look for another suitable habitat. So, how do you do this? First, wait until the seedlings have already sprouted and are growing to lay compost or leaf mulch to your garden. In addition to this, you can also reposition piles of wood and any other rolly polly dwelling zones away from your garden.

If you tend to get rolly pollies in your home, then start by removing the mulch around the foundation of your home. You’ll want to pull back the mulch anywhere from 8 to 12 inches. You can also caulk any cracks or holes in your foundation, sidewalks, and concrete steps.

Summary of the rolly polly bug

Whether you’re a fan of the rolly polly bug or you can’t stand them, one thing is for sure. Rolly pollies are definitely one of the most unique creatures on the planet. Not only can they help you decrease your compost pile, they also add essential vitamins and other nutrients to the soil. Just make sure that you take preventative measures to ensure that these little crustaceans don’t eat holes through all your growing fruit and vegetable plants. Otherwise, you’ll grow to hate these little guys when you can use them to your advantage.

Allison

Allison

Allison Cartwright has been writing professionally since 2009. Cartwright has published several eBooks on craft and garden-related subjects. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Arkansas.
Allison

Last modified: January 28, 2018

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