If you have many African violets and are constantly seeing dirt spilled around them, you may have pillbugs. You will often see the pillbug on the soil surface. They enter potted plants through the drain holes, and as they come through they push the soil out the hole, which results in soil spilled beside the plant. Chances are if your African violets have pillbugs, you have them outside your home. Below is some information about these bugs and what you can do to get rid of them.
You will often hear the pillbug referred to as a roly polies because they curl up in a tight ball when they are threatened. Pillbugs are actually not an insect, but they are relatives of lobsters. The main difference is they do not have to live in water at any time. They have two antennae and seven pairs of legs, and are black or dark brown in color. They have a segmented body, which is why they can roll up.
Where You Find Them
Pillbugs like quiet and moist places to live. You find them in mulch in your flower gardens, under leaves, under pieces of bark, or in outdoor flower containers. You will also find them in your vegetable garden hiding in the soil, and they will come out at night and eat the vegetables. You will know this by finding small holes in the leaves, as well as in the vegetable itself, such as in tomatoes.
How to Get Rid of Them
There are many ways you can get rid of pillbugs. For inside the home, simply find them in your flower pots and remove them by hand. For outside, beer works well. First, bury empty tuna cans in the soil where you suspect the pillbugs are. The top of the cans should be at soil level. Fill the cans up with beer, and the next day you should see pillbugs drowned in the beer. Refill the cans until you stop seeing the pillbugs in them. You could also keep the cans throughout the spring, summer, and fall, as a preventative measure.
If you think you have a very large infestation of pillbugs in your yard, you should call a pest control company to remove them for you. They can use special insecticides that will not harm your vegetables or flowers.
Prevent pillbugs from coming back by picking up grass clippings, leaves, accumulation of mulch, boxes, stones, boards, and anything else they can hide under. Remove any food sources, such as plant or vegetable debris.