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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Pill Bugs I22gcj10Pill Bugs 14dhcg10

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Pill Bugs

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Pill Bugs Empty Pill Bugs

Post  jenjehle 5/23/2010, 7:16 pm

Does anyone know if Pillbugs (a.k.a. Rolley Pollies) are beneficial or pests in the garden around my veggies/plants? Pill Bugs Icon_question


I'm still trying to figure out WHAT is eating my plant's leaves and when I went out to inspect the soil, there seemed to be lots of Pillbugs in the garden.

Just wondered if this is good or not? Pill Bugs 601593


Thank you, once again, fellow gardeners!
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Post  camprn 5/23/2010, 8:57 pm

pill bugs eat decaying matter
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Pill Bugs Empty Check at night...

Post  alouwomack 5/23/2010, 10:03 pm

Hi Jenny,

If you suspect the chewing is for sure from bugs . . . take a flashlight with you and check the garden before bedtime. I'm always amazed at the activity I find in my veggie beds during the night. You might just find yourself some guilty bugs!

-Amber
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Post  dbrown 5/24/2010, 1:27 am

I've been seeing the same thing, leaves on several different plants being eaten on with a tomato plant being one of the worst. I had found some Pillbugs in the soil around the tomato plant a couple of days ago as well and then started trying to see what I could find.

Everything I found is as camprn stated they are normally beneficial as they eat the decaying matter. A couple of places stated they would eat on seedlings as well.

Was up late so I figured I would see if anything was out there. Here is what I found

Pill Bugs Img_1010


More on the same Tomato plant
Pill Bugs Img_1011

So it might not hurt to double check as Amber stated.

Now for me at least the fun part is to figure out what to use to get them out of the planters. Its been so damp here with the rain lately the soil hasn't had much of a chance to dry. I'll take any suggestions, but if I should start a new posting I will.

Dave


Last edited by dbrown on 5/24/2010, 1:38 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : spelling corrections)
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Post  boffer 5/24/2010, 1:34 am

Great pictures, Dave, thanks. Your question is right on topic for this thread. But you'll have to wait for somebody else to come along for bug advice!
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Post  dmpower 5/24/2010, 11:02 am

I have only seen the pill bugs on the ground, or on vegetation touching the ground. I have never seen them walk up a stalk - but I also haven't turned a flash light on them. Are your tomato leaves close to the ground? Can the bottom leaves, branches be pinched back?
I have Terro Ant granules that can be spread around the perimeter of a box for ants, and the label also suggests it works for these bugs. I have not checked that part out yet.
Good luck
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Post  dbrown 5/24/2010, 1:55 pm

The two leaves that were pictured were pretty close if not on the sides.

I've got a couple more pictures that I took but didn't upload to an online site. Once I get home from work I'll doulbe check if the plants that have signes of being eaten on were close to the edges also.

Thats something I hadn't considered.

Dave
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Post  dbrown 5/25/2010, 11:28 am

Didn't get a chance to post the follow up last night

The areas with the most damage were infact laying on the sides of the boxes, I've taken a chance and actually purned off those areas. I may have more than just the pill bugs, but will wait and see. I'll give it a couple of days and then make another late nite stroll.

Thanks

Dave
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Post  Bec 5/25/2010, 11:39 am

Dave,
I don't know if this is how you're supposed to get rid of those bugs or not but last night I had cardboard on my garden to catch slugs and this morning there was also one of those bugs in the pictures above on the underside of the cardboard, along with several slugs.

Bec
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Post  junequilt 5/25/2010, 11:56 am

If you think the pillbugs are your culprits, why not just hand-pick them off the plants and put them elsewhere in the environment?

It may be that because you've had so much rain, they are seeking dryer pastures and have nothing else there to eat.
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Post  timwardell 5/25/2010, 3:24 pm

Check out this link: http://vegipm.tamu.edu/soil1/pillbug.html which is a sub section of this link: http://vegipm.tamu.edu/imageindex.html

They are crustaceans and considered soil insects and as you found out they can, "occasionally damage roots, seedlings, foliage and fruit which contact the soil."

Yet another reason to prune the low-hanging, touching-the-ground branches of tomato plants. I do this and often see pill bugs in my garden but not ON my plants.
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Post  Bec 5/25/2010, 5:53 pm

Thanks for that link, Tim. I was just moving some pots (filled with soil) and found a bunch of them underneath. Good to know what they are.

Bec
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Post  dbrown 5/25/2010, 6:25 pm

Pretty much pruned them yesterday to get rid of the lower set.

As far as the comment about picking them off by hand, From the looks of things I doubt that would make much difference. I had left some scrap wood on the porch beside where the tomato plants are and there were 100's (that by be exgagerated a little) underneth. In the past I always used flower pots so for the most part the plant was never near the ground. I know I have found them in the base of the pots before, just never seen them eat the leaves.

I imagine the rainfall is the problem the soil in the planters is pretty damp and hasn't dried out yet, beginning to wonder if I didn't get put enough drainage holes in the bottom of the boxes.. I have also found a large quantity of the pill bugs in the gravel surrounding the boxes, with the amount of rain we have had it seems that the plastic that is under the gravel has held the moisture as well.

I"m going to be out of town for memorial day so will wait and see what happens, I found several sites that list using Diatomaceous earth to help control them. So may give that a try or the suggestions of some of the posts if I still have issues when I get back.
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Post  Megan 5/25/2010, 6:32 pm

My strawberry jar is sitting on a clay saucer on our (concrete) front step. I am keeping the saucer full of water, partly because the strawberry seed planting instructions say to keep it wet, but also in hopes of making a barrier against ants and slugs. Anyway, I moved the whole thing the other day to dump out the saucer and clean it... and when I moved it, WOW. Talk about turning over a rock! There were a whole bunch of earthworms and several dozen pillbugs having a party under there. I put the worms into several of my containers, and swept the pillbugs off the step.

Anyway, if you are trying to trap pillbugs and/or collect earthworms, apparently dark plus soaked-through terra cotta works! What amazes me is the worms had to have climbed up the step to get there.
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