Nobody wants to see intruders inside their home, including pesky rollie pollies. While they’re generally harmless to humans, they can be unsightly and can threaten your houseplants.
That’s why we’ll teach you some methods you can use to get rid of these bug-like creatures and how to prevent them from coming back again.
But before that, let’s first talk about what roly polies really are.
What are roly polies?
Roly pollies, also known as pill bugs, are small terrestrial crustaceans that are often mistaken as insects because of their appearance. They are about ¼ inch long and have hard, grayish, or brownish shells.
They love damp, wet places, so you’ll often find them in gardens and compost piles. They sometimes sneak into houses to look for wet areas where they can live.
They’re called roly polies because of their habit of rolling into a tight ball when they’re scared.
7 Ways to Get Rid of Roly Polies in the House
Roly pollies are rarely found inside the house, and they mostly stay in gardens with enough moisture and food for them.
However, if you’re experiencing leakage and some parts of the home have a lot of moisture, you might find them lingering around.
Here are some methods that you can follow to get rid of these pests:
Prepare a beer trap
Roly pollies are attracted to a lot of things, and one of them is the scent of beer. They’re drawn to its fermented scent that’s quite similar to the odor of decaying organic matter.
All you have to do to make a beer trap is fill a plastic container with whatever type of beer you have at home. Place it somewhere near the infestation, and the roly polies will naturally enter the container.
Once they enter the trap, they’ll have a hard time climbing out of the container because of the plastic’s smooth texture. They’ll eventually drown after a few minutes.
Use potato chunks as traps
Potatoes can serve as a food source that lures roly polies. They’re also quite moist, making them more attractive for roly polies.
Cut the potatoes into chunks, just large enough for roly polies to gather around. Scatter them in areas where you suspect a roly polies infestation is happening.
These pests are highly active at night, so make sure to check the traps first thing in the morning.
When you see roly polies gathering around them, collect the chunks along with the roly polies and put them in a sealed plastic so you can dispose of them safely.
It’s important to mention, though, that while potatoes can be an attractive food source for roly polies, these are not their preferred food. This trap may only be effective if your home does not have enough mulch or decaying plants.
Use essential oils
Essential oils contain aromatic compounds that can be overwhelming and unpleasant to roly polies.
The strong scent of essential oils can disrupt their ability to find food, leading them to avoid areas where the scent is concentrated.
Essential oils can mask the scents of decaying plant matter and other organic materials that roly polies feed on, making it more challenging for them to locate possible food sources.
You can make an essential oil spray by mixing a few drops with water or soaking some cotton balls in essential oils and placing them near the area of infestation. You can also use a diffuser to make your entire home smell like essential oils.
Some essential oils that you can use include peppermint, tea tree, rosemary, citrus, and lavender.
Spread coffee grounds around them
Like essential oils, coffee emits a strong aroma that can repel roly polies. They also have a coarse and gritty texture that roly polies find unpleasant to crawl over.
Additionally, the caffeine content of coffee is a natural deterrent for many pests, including roly polies.
Spread coffee grounds near the infested area. You can also sprinkle coffee around your houseplants to protect them.
The coffee grounds will lose their effectiveness over time, so it’s important to reapply them periodically. You should also avoid placing them directly on the houseplant’s soil, as they can make it too acidic for the plant.
Make a garlic spray
By this point, you probably know that the best way to get rid of roly polies is by attacking their sense of smell. A garlic spray will do just that by emitting a strong garlic odor that can be very unpleasant for these pests.
Crush several garlic cloves and add them to a spray bottle filled with water. You can also put the garlic and water in a blender if you have one.
Spray the garlic mixture directly onto the areas in your house where you’ve observed roly polies or where you want to prevent their presence. Reapply the spray, especially after rain.
If you’re spraying them on a plant, make sure that there’s not a high concentration of garlic in the spray, as it can harm the plant.
Try using diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth is a powdery substance made from remains of diatoms, which are tiny organisms primarily seen in the ocean. It’s a known insecticide and pest control agent that can help eliminate roly polies at home.
DE works by physically dehydrating the roly polies, leading to their death. When the pest comes in contact with the powder, its shell gets damaged, causing it to lose moisture.
If you suspect roly poly infestation, just sprinkle the DE in areas where you’ve seen them or where they’re likely to hide. You’ll usually find them in your basement and sink base cabinet.
Use food-grade DE so you can use it around food and pets. This type of DE is generally non-toxic, so it’s a much better alternative to chemical pesticides for people who have pets and kids.
Use chemical pesticide
Natural deterrents like beer traps, potato traps, and coffee grounds can only do so much. When the infestation is way too severe, they may not be able to make much of a difference.
If you’re still noticing a lot of roly polies in your home after trying other ways, then it’s time to use chemical pesticides. They usually work faster than other natural deterrents and are effective in completely eliminating the presence of pests at home.
Use pesticides sparingly and only in areas where roly polies are actively present. Make sure to also always wear gloves and a mask when using them to avoid any possible accident.
Exhaust all the other methods first before resorting to pesticides. They can have significant effects on the environment and can be toxic for you and your family.
How to prevent roly poly infestation inside the house?
The most effective way to prevent roly poly infestation is to make the house a less attractive place for them to live. This means keeping your house free from things that will attract them, like moisture, decaying plants, and more.
Here are some things you can do to make your house less inviting to them:
Reduce moisture and ensure proper ventilation
The most important thing to do when getting rid of roly polies in the house is to reduce the presence of moisture inside. They need a moist environment to survive, so they’ll often seek out damp places inside houses during dry and hot periods.
Reducing moisture can make your home less inviting to these pests. By doing this, you’re not only getting rid of the ones in your home now but also preventing future infestation.
Ensure that your gutters are functioning properly and directing rainwater away from your home. This can help prevent excess moisture from collecting near your home.
Fix any possible leaks in pipes, faucets, or plumbing fixtures. Address these leaks promptly to prevent water from accumulating in areas where roly polies may be attracted.
Roly pollies are also attracted to dark rooms, so they may infest your basement more than other rooms in the house. Make sure the basement is properly ventilated to reduce humidity and promote better air circulation.
Reduce mulch and decaying plants around the home
Roly pollies feed on mulch and decaying plants, so having lots of it in your garden and houseplants can attract these pests. By removing them, you’re cutting off the roly polies’ main source of food, forcing them to look elsewhere.
Mulch also traps moisture, creating a damp environment that roly polies love. It also makes a great hiding place for roly polies during the day.
You don’t need to completely eliminate mulch in your garden, but using it sparingly and ensuring you’re not applying a thick layer of it can greatly help reduce the presence of roly polies both in your garden and home.
Seal possible entry points
Roly poly infestation usually starts in the backyard and garden before they make their way inside the house. To prevent them from entering, ensure that there are no gaps, cracks, or openings where they can sneak in.
Inspect doors, windows, and the foundations of your home for any possible openings and seal them all with caulk or weatherstripping. For foundation cracks, you can use epoxy sealers.
Do regular cleaning
Keep your home as clean as possible. Clutter can serve as a hiding spot for pill bugs, so they’ll likely enter the home and settle in if the house is messy.
Make sure not to keep food scraps inside the house for an extended period, as this will likely attract them. Roly pollies can smell decaying organic matter from far away, so they’ll try to get in if they sense food scraps inside.
This will also help you prevent other types of pests from entering your home and invading your living spaces.
Monitor for any roly poly activity and address them immediately
Roly pollies reproduce really fast. They can produce 12 to 24 eggs per batch, which are likely to develop in 6 to 9 weeks, so the infestation rate can be fast.
Once you notice a roly poly inside your home, make sure to get rid of it as soon as possible. Search for its entry point and seal it immediately.
You should also check your backyard to see if there’s any roly poly activity in it, as infestation often begins there.