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More “Occasional Invaders”

By Chris Williams on March 28, 2019.

The fall invading insects like wasps, lady beetles, and conifer seed bugs are sort of universally troublesome for homeowners and owners of commercial real estate but throughout the sultry summer months another cast of characters dubbed “Occasional Invaders” can reach major nuisance status.  These are the pillbugs, sowbugs, millipedes and springtails and they’ll enter homes usually seeking out areas with high humidity.  In certain instances, I’ve seen enormous numbers of these creatures (I won’t call them insects because technically they’re not, except the springtails – and many taxonomists would even argue about that) invade garages, damp basements, and crawlspaces. One may ask,

“Why are they in my home? And What are they doing?”

Pillbugs. Shutterstock

Though pillbugs and sowbugs are in the same order within the phylum Arthropoda, they are not in the same family. The pillbugs belong to the Armadillidae (Armadillium vulgare is a very common species) and the sowbugs are in the family Oniscidae (Oniscus spp.) Despite similar looking physical characteristics, there are some subtle differences between the two. Pillbugs are lacking two posterior appendages that are present on the sowbugs and they have the ability to roll up into a ball when they feel threatened.  Sowbugs are unable to do this. Lifestyle-wise, they’re pretty much the same, feeding off decomposing organic matter. Out in my yard, I’ll find sowbugs living under rocks in moist soil in the garden beds. They don’t seem to migrate into my somewhat damp garage too often, and yet I’ve had customers (especially on the coast) literally have thousands of them coming into their garage.

Sow bugs on damp wood. Shutterstock.

The millipedes have pretty much the type of lifestyle as the as the pill bugs living in moist soil and feeding on decaying organic matter and often times for whatever reason, they’ll invade garages and basements in verylarge numbers. In my observation, it’s not always a response to dry conditions as one would think.

Lastly, springtails are another occasional nuisance invader associated with damp conditions that can often be present in very large numbers.  If you are having problems with these pests, and integrated approach to control is best. Reducing humidity and Colonial Pest Control’s semi- annual service is a great combination to keep these occasional invaders in check. Call for details.

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