Have you noticed several woodlice, commonly known as roly polies, inside and perhaps around your home? If so, there are several different reasons why they could be sticking around, and their presence can actually indicate that you have too much moisture in your house.
This article aims to shine a light on what woodlice are, the possible causes for them invading your house, and how to get rid of them and prevent them from returning in the future.
By the time you have finished reading, you should be able to pinpoint the reason (or reasons) for the issue and know what action to take.
What Are Woodlice?
Although many think of woodlice as insects, in reality, they are crustaceans, similar to a lobster. Even though this is the case, another name for woodlice is pill bug.
There are tens of thousands of species of woodlice, and they are found on every continent except for Antarctica. All woodlouse species have 14 legs and a hard outer shell that protects them from predators and other potentially harmful stimuli.
Woodlice are known as detritivores, which means they get their sustenance from decaying organic material. They like environments that are dark, cool, and moist. They tend to thrive in gardens. They are mainly active during the nighttime since they are not huge fans of the hot sun.
These crustaceans are social animals that live in groups, and they are not harmful to humans. Their predators include centipedes, spiders, and many other creatures.
Preventing a Woodlice Infestation
There are a few different reasons that woodlice will invade a home. This section will go over these possible reasons so you can figure out why woodlice are infesting your home and prevent it from happening again later.
Seal Any and All Openings
It is very possible that the woodlice harboring in your house wandered in by accident rather than due to being attracted to mold or rotting wood inside your house.
When the weather starts to get hotter and drier in the summer months, they set off to look for a nice, shady, damp area in which to reside and perhaps lay eggs.
Regardless of whether you suspect this is the reason for your woodlice problem, you will need to make sure any access points to your home are properly sealed so more do not make their way in.
Check all of your windows to see if there are any crevices for creatures to squeeze through. If you think they may have gotten in by walking underneath a door, think about installing a rubber piece there that is designed to keep cold air out.
This can effectively prevent both chilly air and annoying pests such as woodlice from entering your home.
Check your air ducts as well. Also, make sure you do not have any cracks in your walls or floors where woodlice can get through. If you do find some damage, patch it up using fresh drywall mud and a putty knife.
If your house does not have anything inside it attracting the crustaceans, such as rotting wood, there is no other action you should take aside from making sure you do not need to address any of the other possible causes for woodlice being nearby that you will read about later in the article.
Remove Decaying Materials
One possible cause for attracting woodlice is having rotting materials near your home, such as dead leaves or a pile of decaying weeds that you pulled from your garden.
Since woodlice feed on materials such as those, this can easily attract them. If the material is right by your house, especially if it is near an entry point, the woodlice can end up traveling inside and setting up camp.
The good news is, unless you have mold in your house or something for the woodlice to get sustenance from, they shouldn’t survive or hang around for long. However, this is still a situation that should be handled to avoid dealing with more woodlice later.
Make sure you keep your piles of decaying organic debris far from your house.
Keep Plants Pruned
Since woodlice love moist locations, it is smart to keep your house as dry as possible. This is also a good idea for preventing mold from growing in your home.
Maintain any larger plants that are next to your house by keeping them trimmed well so that the breeze can make its way to your siding and aerate your house. This way, even if woodlice do find a way inside, they will not be able to live for long.
Get Rid of Old Wood
Similarly to piles of decaying leaves and other organic materials, old rotting wood can attract woodlice since they can feed on it as well. If your house has any wood that is possibly rotting away, such as old cupboards, you should replace it with new material to avoid luring in woodlice.
Also, once again, since they found their way in, you should make sure your home’s access points are properly sealed. If you brought moist wood into your house, let’s say in the form of logs that you plan to throw in your fireplace, it is very possible that you drug the woodlice in with the wood.
Keep Your Gutters Clean
If you are not one to keep your gutters well maintained, this could be part of the reason for your woodlice issue.
Everybody knows that gutters get filled with leaves, twigs, and other organic material, and if you do not keep them cleaned out, this material can start to decay. As you should know by now, woodlice consume rotting organic material, so this is a great source of food for them.
Remove all of the leaves and other debris from your gutters on a regular basis to prevent a woodlice infestation. Doing so will also help your gutters properly drain, preventing moisture from seeping into your house from a full and leaking gutter.
If you can keep your house less damp, the conditions will not be ideal for woodlice to survive.
Let Ground Dry
You should make it a habit to let the ground in your yard dry out completely before you water your grass or plants again. The less moisture you allow to accumulate in your yard, the less likely you are to attract woodlice.
Use a Dehumidifier and Heater
Basements can be perfect environments for woodlice since they are often damp, dark, and cool. If you find woodlice there, you should consider putting a space heater and dehumidifier in your basement to keep it drier and warmer.
Taking this action should prevent the woodlice from living in the area for very long.
Keep Home Free of Mold
As has been stated throughout this article, mold is something that attracts woodlice since they use it for sustenance. Thus, keep your house totally free of mold.
One room that is especially prone to mold growth is the bathroom since the air in there is constantly filled with humidity. Always use your exhaust fan when you take a shower, and regularly scrub the tiles in your bathroom. Also, clean away any mold you notice growing on the walls or ceiling.
How to Get Rid of Woodlice
There are several ways to get rid of the woodlice you have found making your home theirs. When picking the right method for you, make sure to consider the suspected reason for the woodlice invasion.
Relocate the Woodlice
If you happen to have a garden in your yard, you can transport the woodlice that settled in your home to a shady area there. Simply sweep them into a dustpan or use your hands to bring them outside. Woodlice are great for the health of your outdoor plants as they assist in the decomposition process.
You can attract the woodlice to a homemade trap inside your home first. You can put organic material, such as fruit, in a piece of damp paper and place it in an area of your home where you believe they are living. This will most likely be a spot with a lot of moisture.
Since they are mostly active at night, you can set your trap out overnight and then check it each morning to see if you have captured any woodlice.
After you have attracted them to the trap, you can take the woodlice outside. It is important that you take the creatures outside immediately so they don’t simply enjoy the free meal you provided for them before going back to the spot in your home they picked out.
Vacuum Them up
You can use a vacuum to easily suck up the woodlice. If you go this route, make sure you either dispose of the bag in your trash can outside immediately or empty the bag in your garden.
Do not just leave it in your vacuum or toss it in your indoor trash can, as the woodlice will most likely just find their way back into your house. Also, be certain you got every last woodlice out of the bag if you do opt for emptying it outside.
If you don’t mind harming the crustaceans in your house, you can pick up an insecticide to get rid of them. This method is very effective for killing not only woodlice, but any other annoying pests lurking in the shadows of your house.
You can use an insecticidal spray or something called diatomaceous earth, which is a powder you sprinkle around your house that will kill anything with an exoskeleton.
You also have the option of using a fogger. What this does is fills your whole house with pest-killing fumes. This method is ideal for bad infestations where the woodlice are in locations that are hard for you to get to, such as behind the walls.
One downside of using an insecticide is that you will be finding pest carcasses around your house for who knows how long. However, it might be nice to see that the insecticide is doing its job.
If you are worried about any harmful side-effects of using this method, you can opt for a nontoxic, natural variety of insecticide, such as horticultural oil. All you need to do is a little bit of research to figure out which insecticide you would prefer to use.
There is a non-lethal repellent available that might prevent woodlice from entering your home, or at least keep them from staying for long. This repellent involves a device that sends out ultrasonic signals that woodlice and other pests do not like to be near.
Thankfully, the signals these devices send out cannot be picked up by human ears. You can purchase one from most department stores or online for a very reasonable price. If you do not wish to kill the woodlice nor actually handle them, this is a great option.
Put Salt Down
One way you can deter woodlice from coming into your house is by pouring salt in your doorways that lead to the outside, as well as by your windows. This will cause the woodlice to dry up and die while also pulling in any moisture around where it is sitting.
After having read this article, you should know what actions you need to take to get rid of the woodlice in your home and prevent a future invasion.
Unless you suspect you brought the crustaceans in on wood or something else, it is absolutely vital that you seal up any cracks or other openings that woodlice can get into your house through.
Although woodlice cannot hurt humans, they will chow down on old wood you might have in your home, so for this reason alone, it is smart to get rid of the pests.
Whether you use a lethal course of action or a more humane one is up to you, but it should be restated that these creatures can greatly benefit your garden, so consider relocating them there after you fill in cracks and crevices and remove rotting material from around your house.
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies…I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house.