How to Make a Natural and Safe DIY Mosquito Trap

The CDC calls them “the world’s deadliest animal” for good reason. Although statistics vary, some suggest that mosquitoes indirectly cause the deaths of over two million people a year — a figure that is only bound to rise as climate change broadens the geographical horizons of mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, dengue fever, the West Nile virus, Zika, and chikungunya. 

Even if you don’t live in an area where these deadly diseases are endemic, however, it’s safe to say that you feel exactly the same way about mosquitoes as almost every other person on the planet. Nobody relishes the thought of having a natural, saliva-carried, anesthetic injected into their skin and their blood sucked out by a hungry mosquito. 

Yeast and Bottle Mosquito Trap

With as little as a two-liter plastic bottle and some common household ingredients, you can make a simple, effective, and completely natural mosquito trap. 

This trap uses a combination of yeast and sugar to produce carbon dioxide — the same compound that humans and other mammals breathe out. The carbon dioxide will attract mosquitoes, drawing them into the trap. The funnel shape of the trap prevents the mosquitoes that went into the trap from leaving, and the pests accumulate in the bottom.

This should take you no more than about 10 minutes from start to finish.

Construct the trap

  • Choose an empty two-liter plastic bottle, like a soda bottle, and cut it in half. Keep both parts.
    • Tip: A utility knife works wonders, here.
  • Boil some water. Allow it to cool off a little bit, but don’t wait for it to go cold (about 160F is good).

Create the mixture

  • Add 1/4 cup of brown sugar to 1 cup of hot water. You can do 2 cups (1/2 cup of brown sugar), too.
  • Add a gram of yeast to the mixture, and again mix thoroughly. 

Final Steps

  • Pour the sugar water into the bottom half of the bottle.
  • Invert the top half of the bottle, placing its original opening downward, without the lid on. 
  • Bonus:
    • You can add some duct tape around the seam to make sure the trap holds up under wind.
    • Additionally, some have found that wrapping the whole thing in black construction paper makes it more effective. I haven’t tested this, but it’s possible.

Here’s a video showing the full process:

The Ovitrap

This ingenious trap stops mosquitoes in their tracks at their very source.

As you probably know, mosquitoes lay their eggs near stagnant, dirty water. Some types of mosquitoes exclusively do so in lakes, but many will also happily lay their eggs around temporary water sources like muddy puddles or stagnant buckets of water in your garden.

Ovitraps — literally meaning “egg traps” — are clever and highly effective mosquito traps that recreate the perfect breeding ground for these pests.

There’s a twist, of course. Once mosquitoes lay their eggs around an ovitrap, the larvae that hatch naturally fall down into the water, where they begin to grow. By the time they’re ready to come out, they’re too big to pass through the top of your trap. Those mosquitoes will never bother anyone!

To make an ovitrap of your own, all you need to do is:

  • Find a relatively large and dark plastic container. Black or dark-gray plastic cereal containers may do the trick, or you can purchase s small bucket (or even several!) from a home improvement store. 
  • Create a handle. If your container did not already come with a handle, pierce two holes in the sides and use sturdy metal wiring to create a makeshift handle. In either case, you’ll want to pierce or drill two larger overflow holes right under the handles to keep the water level down.
  • Make it black. Depending on the size of your chosen container, you can use a black sock or a black cheesecloth for the next step. Glue the center firmly to the very bottom of the container. Carefully drape the sides of this fabric to line the entire inside, and then glue it right outside the edge of the container.
  • Once fully dried, fill the container with stagnant water. You can do this by collecting pond water and leaving it to sit out for a while, or by adding some dog kibble to tap water. 
  • Now, make a “lid” out of fine mesh metal. It is important for this to have exactly the same size as the opening in the container. Press it into the opening firmly, ensuring that there are no escape holes or slots. 

Now, all you have to do is hang the ovitrap in a shady and wind-free place where no more water can accumulate — like somewhere near your porch.

Scientific research has proven these home-made egg traps to be very effective against the most dangerous types of mosquitoes, which are most likely to spread diseases. Don’t forget to change the water out every two weeks to renew the trap’s mosquito-killing potential.

Here’s another video showing you the full process: (instructions begin at 0:28)

Where do Silverfish come from?

Silverfish are wingless and silvery insects belonging to the order Zygentoma. Although these pest bugs will happily live outdoors in the right conditions, they have also become a nuisance in homes across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Pacific islands. 

If you have spotted silverfish in your home, perhaps even in frighteningly large numbers, you will want answers. Where do they come from, and why have they infested your property? 

What Attracts Silverfish?

Silverfish may have entered your home in a number of ways, including:

  • If you live in a single-family home, they are likely to have walked right in from outside, especially if you have a lot of vegetation or wood immediately around your property. They could have come in through the front door, yes, but silverfish more likely made their way in though vents or small cracks.
  • If you recently brought in products silverfish feel rather comfortable with, such as moist second-hand books or slightly wet firewood, silverfish may have hitched a ride.
  • If you live in an apartment building, silverfish may have crawled in through vents or drainpipes. 

To set up camp in your home, and perhaps even create an entire settlement, silverfish will need the right conditions. These pest bugs require high humidity levels but relatively cool temperatures of up to 80° Fahrenheit (which translates to around 27° Celsius). They are mostly nocturnal, and prefer darker, concealed, spaces. They also, of course, need a source of food. Fortunately for them, but not for you, they’ll find it in literally every home.

What Do Silverfish Eat?

Silverfish are scavengers who eat carbohydrates — mostly starches and sugars. They will happily devour many of the items in your pantry, like vegetables, cereals, grains (including flour), and pet food. Dead insects are also on their menu. More frightening, perhaps, is the fact that silverfish also eat things that humans wouldn’t consider food at all. 

No matter how seriously you take hygiene, and even if you store all foods with long shelf lives in airtight containers, you still have some of these things right in the open, don’t you?

  • Paper, including books, cardboard, and of course wallpaper
  • Glue made from potato starch, like the type used to hang wallpaper
  • Fabrics made from natural fibers

As silverfish eat, they chew tiny holes in paper-based surfaces and fabrics. They can also leave behind yellow stains; their droppings. Although a large silverfish infestation can quickly cause damage to your fabrics and papers, make no mistake — these bugs can survive without food for a long time. They cannot, however, last very long in low-humidity environments.

Where Do Silverfish Hide?

To offer a cheeky but true answer, silverfish hide in places where you’re unlikely to pose much of a threat to them. They do this not explicitly to conceal themselves from you, but because the places where you are unlikely to look are the same places that are highly desirable for silverfish. Silverfish like moist and dark environments, and mostly come out at night — while you are asleep. This makes them hard to find and hard to get rid of.

The best places to look for silverfish in your home include:

  • Your basement and crawl space, and perhaps your garage. Perpetually dark areas that also tend to be moist are highly appealing to these bugs. 
  • In cracks in your bathroom, in drain pipes or underneath your washing machine or cabinets, or behind bathroom mirrors. They will come out at night, and you may spot silverfish when you turn the bathroom light on at night. 
  • In attics, especially if you have a leaky roof.
  • In cluttered, dark cupboards, underneath beds, and in storage rooms.

Serious silverfish infestations can, however, also be obvious — in small, crowded, and cluttered student housing, these bugs may even be found openly crawling around on piles of books and under piles of clothes.

Decluttering, vacuuming often, keeping your bathroom and kitchen dry by wiping surfaces down after use, and storing clothes and food in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed plastic bags goes a long way toward preventing or eliminating silverfish. So does not bring in wet wood and keeping all your books and papers dry. However, if you live in a humid region, you may have to install a dehumidifier to keep silverfish at bay in the long run. Sealing cracks and crevices and having leaks in roofs and pipes, if any, repaired are also crucial steps in the battle against silverfish.

How to identify Silverfish

Silverfish are pest insects that can damage books, papers, fabrics, and the starches in your pantry, leaving tiny holes and yellow stains in everything they touch. The fact that these bugs also release allergens, especially in the exoskeletons they shed, is even more of a reason to get rid of them as soon as possible. Furthermore, because silverfish depend on high humidity levels, having an infestation in your home offers a powerful clue that you are dealing with a systemic moisture problem — which also poses a health risk. 

Because each type of pest bug thrives in slightly different conditions, however, and different steps are required to eliminate them, the first thing to do when you’ve spotted bugs is to correctly identify them. What do you need to know about silverfish?

What do Silverfish Look Like?

Silverfish — specifically Lepisma saccharina, to differentiate them from other bugs that sometimes go by the same moniker — are wingless insects that can be found nearly everywhere where humans live. In their adult forms, they:

  • Are rather small — between 13 and 25 millimeters.
  • Have segmented bodies that start off quite wide but gradually taper off, with each segment being smaller than the one that preceded it, and flattened, darker, heads. 
  • May appear to be somewhere between a silky, luminescent, white and a darker silver color.
  • Have three pairs of legs situated more closely to their heads, two long antennae protruding from their heads, two cerci (long appendages that look similar to antennae) near their rear, and one shorter tail-like appendage that looks a bit like a stinger. 
  • Two eyes, although they will be difficult to see. 

Their color and luminescent qualities, scale-like segments, body shape, and fluid, quick, body movements all explain why they came to be known as silverfish. To be able to identify silverfish correctly, it is also important to pay attention to their behavior and their movements. Silverfish:

  • Can run very quickly, something they need to evade their natural predators, which include spiders and centipedes — as well as the looming threat of humans. When you spot a silverfish, you’re most likely to experience it as a graceful slither of light that dashes away from you.
  • Need high humidity levels, which is why they are more commonly found in moist areas like kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Strongly prefer darkness, which is why you may find them under kitchen cabinets or in the cupboards where you store your winter coats.
  • Can live outdoors as well as inside, so you may find them in your garden as well.

What Do Baby Silverfish Look Like?

Baby silverfish hatch from smaller clusters of tiny eggs, which the female will leave in safe spaces like tiny crevices. The fact that silverfish can live up to eight years explains why the females generally lay less than one hundred eggs in their lifetimes. When the eggs hatch, the hatchlings look like tiny adults that are a lot whiter in color. They then begin the long process of molting and growing. As they leave their allergen-rich exoskeletons behind, that debris will become part of your household dust, where it can induce serious allergic reactions. 

What’s the Difference Between Silverfish and Firebrats?

Silverfish and firebrats are both wingless insects that belong to the order Zygentoma. Closely related and very similar in size, it would be extremely easy to confuse the two if you were to look at pictures. The fact that these two pest bugs both have extremely similar food sources doesn’t make the job any easier! Besides the fact that firebrats have a darker, fuzzier, and less smooth appearance, there is one main way to tell silverfish apart from firebrats. 

As their name already suggests, firebrats love warmer temperatures — and are, in fact, most often found in positively hot places like boiler rooms, around stoves and ovens, and even around furnaces. These bugs are less common than silverfish, and are most likely to cause an infestation in commercial food preparation facilities, such as bakeries. 

Silverfish are only comfortable in temperature up to about 80° Fahrenheit (around 27° Celsius). Therefore, they are more likely to be found in damp crawlspaces than walk on your stove top.  

How to get rid of Silverfish

Silverfish are wingless pest insects with tapered and segmented bodies and a white to silvery appearance. Whether you appreciate the natural grace and stunning colors of these bugs or they simply creep you out, you have compelling reasons to take steps to deal with a silverfish infestation in your home as soon as possible.

These critters may not bite, sting, or carry diseases, but that doesn’t make them harmless. Not only do silverfish release allergens as they (frequently) molt and shed their old exoskeletons, they also eat your books, papers, fabrics, and even raid your pantry. In addition, the fact that silverfish need high humidity levels to survive can only mean one thing — if you have a silverfish problem, you also have a moisture problem.

How to Kill Silverfish

If you want to know how to kill silverfish as fast as you can, you will want to look for quick fixes. In areas of the home out of reach of pets and rarely frequented by humans, you can use dusts like boric acid and diatomaceous earth, sprinkling them around royally and trying to get them into the small cracks and crevices where silverfish hang on, too. Both boric acid and diatomaceous earth are generally considered to be safer insecticides, as they are derived from natural sources. That does not mean they pose no danger, though, and you will want to avoid dusting them in areas where you go a lot. 

Your go-to chemical insecticide options would be pyrethrins, which will quickly force silverfish to retreat to more hidden areas deeper within your home, in combination with residual bug sprays that linger for longer, killing silverfish. As an alternative to wielding insecticides yourself, you could also consider calling in a pest control company. This is a good option to consider if you have a silverfish allergy and are desperate for quick remediation.

Natural Treatment Options: An Environmental Approach to Eliminating Silverfish

Killing silverfish is a short-term solution. Altering the conditions in your home so that your property is no longer appealing (or even livable) to silverfish would be your ultimate goal — and although this takes much more of an effort as well as potentially requiring more serious investments, the good news is that this process generally makes your home healthier to be in for people, as well.

Silverfish require high humidity levels of over 75 percent, and experts on indoor air quality recommend that your home never exceed 60 percent, while ideally staying at a relative humidity of 50 percent or less. Depending on the cause of high humidity in your home, the solution may be simple or complex. 

It may be as easy as committing to never line-drying your laundry indoors and wiping your bathroom and kitchen dry after each use, plus increasing ventilation by opening your windows much more often and for longer. 

The job could also be as expensive as installing dehumidifiers, exhaust fans, and having a leaky roof or leaky pipes repaired. 

In addition, you will want to take steps to take away food sources. Although silverfish can last a long time without food, it will help. Store dried grains, starches, pet food, and other pantry items in airtight containers. If you store your out-of-season fabrics in dark areas and out of sight, strongly consider using vacuum-sealable bags. Keep your kitchen and other areas of your home free from food crumbs at all times. Got an impressive book collection? Don’t store your books in cabinets with doors, but on open bookshelves that get a lot of light, and make sure they remain dry at all times.

Can You Prevent Silverfish Going Forward?

It might be difficult, but it can be done. Silverfish also live outdoors if the conditions there are right, and may come into your home when they have the chance. You will want to have cracks and crevices sealed with caulking or steel wool, remove organic materials (like wet wood) from your foundation walls, and consider creating a diatomaceous earth barrier immediately around your property. 

Combined with lower humidity levels and scare food supplies, these steps will mostly keep silverfish out. You may still see the odd one here and there, but it will no longer reach the level of an infestation.

Are Silverfish dangerous?

With so many possible choices, it’s hard to decide which kind of bug is the creepiest. For this writer Silverfish feature high on the list of candidates. Once they get into your home they’ll find ample food sources, as these insects munch on starches and sugars like those found in wallpaper, food crumbs, pet food, fabrics, books, and other substances found literally in every home. These tough bugs are hard to get rid of, too.

As these speedy bugs slither around your stored winter clothes or you discover them behind a bookshelf, you’ll want to know if they pose any danger.

Do Silverfish Bite or Sting?

The good news is that silverfish do not bite or sting people. These insects, which prefer dark environments and need very high humidity levels of 75 percent and upward to thrive, will mostly live out their lives hidden from the human inhabitants of a house. Unless you have a very serious infestation, you are only ever likely to see them in moist areas like bathrooms (when you turn the light on in the middle of the night) or in the darker corners of cupboards. As you may know from personal experience, silverfish will creep away at great speeds when they notice you. 

Silverfish are not known that carry any diseases that pose a threat to humans, either.

Are Silverfish Dangerous to Pets?

Again, the answer is, generally, “no”. Silverfish do not pose a danger to common pets like cats, dogs, or fish, or even to less common pets like birds, ferrets, or snakes. 

Do Silverfish Cause Damage to Your Property?

Yes, definitely. Silverfish are nocturnal scavengers who can, over time, cause great damage to valuables that can include various items of clothing, blankets, curtains, and other fabrics, as well as books and papers. As they eat, silverfish leave tiny holes. They can also cause yellowish stains. 

Besides eating these valuables, silverfish also feast on some of the same things humans eat — once they get into your pantry, they can render grains and pasta stockpiles unsanitary, leaving holes that may also invite other pests in while they’re at it. 

Are Silverfish Bad for Your Garden?

Not generally, as the diet of these insects overwhelmingly consists of dead and decaying plant and related organic matter. They will leave your living plants alone. If you have silverfish in your garden, however, they may also come into your home — and if you have a plant nursery indoors, silverfish present there will also spread to other areas of your property. 

Do Silverfish Cause Allergic Reactions? What Else Do You Need to Know?

If the facts that silverfish do not bite or sting people, mostly do their best to stay well out of your way, and do not carry any diseases gave you the impression that they only endanger your property and not your health, you would — unfortunately — be wrong. That is true for two distinct reasons. 

The first is the fact that silverfish release allergens, specifically tropomyosin, just like more common household pests like dust mites do. In people who are allergic to silverfish and people with asthma, the presence of silverfish (especially in large numbers) can provoke serious symptoms that include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and skin rashes. In asthmatic people, silverfish can trigger full-blown asthma attacks. 

This may not be of immediate concern to you if you are not allergic to silverfish or asthmatic, but beware — prolonged exposure to high concentrations of allergens can cause you to become sensitized over time. 

This is one compelling reason to take steps to get rid of silverfish. The other would be that they thrive only in extremely high humidity levels of between 75 and 95 percent. For comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you keep the relative humidity in your home between 30 and 50 percent to protect your health. 

Having a prolific silverfish infestation in your home indicates that you either have a generalized humidity problem, or localized buildup of moisture — such as from leaky pipes or loose roof shingles. These same conditions invite other pests like dust mites and cockroaches, which likewise emit allergens, in. High humidity levels further pose an extremely high risk of mold, which can be allergenic as well as toxic. 

By combating the conditions that allow silverfish to comfortably live in your home, you take powerful steps to create a healthier home environment.

How to get rid of Earwigs

Earwigs strongly prefer damp and dark environments. Most earwig species are scavengers who primarily eat decaying plant and other organic matter, but a few are predators that target other insects. Quite a few earwig species do snack on living plants, particularly the roots. Since earwigs are mostly outdoor bugs, anyone wondering how to get rid of earwigs most likely has them in the garden. Earwigs do occasionally make their way into people’s homes, however, where they are most likely to be found in and around (compost) bins and houseplants. 

What can you do to get rid of earwigs, whether outdoors or inside?

How to Kill Earwigs

Because earwigs will use their pincers if they feel threatened, during which time they can also emit a foul-smelling substance, it is best to avoid handling earwigs with your hands. They’re not dangerous, per se, but they are unpleasant. If you spot a single earwig in your home, you may be able to squash it or trap it to release it outside. However, earwigs move quite quickly — and that’s why hoovering them up is quite an effective way to catch an earwig. 

If you suspect that you have a larger earwig infestation in your home, it may, however, be time to call in the pest control professionals. These indoor infestations are rare, but possible in cases of crawl spaces with a lot of soil, or in homes with numerous houseplants. The best things to do would be to concentrate on ways to render the space inhospitable to earwigs, rather than to focus on killing individual earwigs. Many insecticides are, however, efficient at killing earwigs. To achieve this goal without harm to people, pets, and plants, a pest control company that focuses on integrated pest management is your best bet.

Natural Earwig Control

To prevent earwigs from entering your home, the following pesticide-free steps are very effective:

  • Most earwigs primarily feed on organic matter like decaying leaves. By keeping the area immediately surrounding your foundation walls free of organic matter, including plants, you will discourage earwigs from entering your home.
  • Discard organic garbage as soon as possible. 
  • Inspect new houseplants for earwigs, shaking them out gently before you bring them inside.
  • Sealing cracks and crevices around your foundation walls will also prevent earwigs from coming inside.
  • Making sure your basements and crawl spaces are not overly humid, by installing dehumidifiers if necessary, will help deter earwigs and other bugs.
  • Check your gutters to ensure that water drains away from the house. Localized moisture buildup attracts earwigs as well as many other bugs.

In the garden, you can:

  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth, a very effective natural pest control method, around to kill earwigs.
  • Spray a solution containing neem oil onto your vulnerable plants, as this natural insect repellent is great at repelling all sorts of pests, including earwigs.
  • Set up bird feeders in your garden. Attracting birds will help control the earwig population in your garden.
  • Regularly clear organic debris like fallen leaves and dead plants, which are on earwigs’ menus.

How to Make an Earwig Trap

Earwig traps can also play a role in eliminating these pests from your garden and home alike. You have several options, which rely on the same principle of attracting earwigs, causing them to fall in to the trap, and preventing them from coming back out:

  • Fill small container with water and dish soap.
  • Fill a small container with water and vegetable oil.
  • Buy a can of sardines in olive oil. Enjoy the sardines. Leave the oil in the can, and set it up for earwigs. 

The surface tension created by the soap or oil will prevent earwigs from exiting the trap once they have made it inside. Oily traps will naturally attract earwigs, but soapy ones will not necessary do so, so you will want to cover these with a light coating of old leaves or compost. Like other nocturnal bugs, earwigs seek out light sources — so setting up a small light that shines directly at the trap will make the trap more effective. Once earwigs have fallen in, you can discard the trap and set up a new one.

Are Earwigs dangerous?

The feature most people are going to be most taken back by are, however, their characteristic strong pincers, found protruding from the back of earwigs’ abdomens. Combined with their terrifying name, these pincers are quite enough to beg the question — are earwigs dangerous? Let’s examine that further.

Do Earwigs Bite or Sting?

Earwigs are omnivorous scavengers who tend to go for decaying (dead) plant matter as well as smaller pest insects. They do not bite or sting humans, but that is not all that needs to be said on the matter. Like many other otherwise harmless insects, earwigs, too, will attempt to attack people if they feel threatened — generally in situations where you corner an earwig, catch one to release it outdoors, or try to squash one. 

In such cases, earwigs will make use of their impressive pincers to defend themselves. These pincers aren’t designed to break human skin, and generally won’t succeed in doing so — but they can still cause mild pain. If you do get pinched by an earwig to the point where they draw blood, also keep in mind that this can introduce germs. Washing the site thoroughly with soap and water is recommended. Simultaneously, while earwigs are not poisonous or venomous, they do have the ability to release a nasty-smelling substance when they are under attack.

Thankfully, there is a relatively easy way to avoid being pinched by an earwig; do not handle these insects with your bare hands. They’re also not terribly hard to get rid of in the house (and the good news is that home infestations in large numbers are rare).

Do Earwigs Actually Crawl into Your Ear?

Earwigs thrive in damp and dark environments, preferring the wet soil in your garden or the refuge of your compost bin to your carefully-maintained bedroom. The old legend that earwigs crawl into your ears while you are sleeping, and perhaps even make it all the way to your brain, therefore makes less sense today than they did in the middle ages. When these tales emerged, people’s bedrooms were far more likely to be damp, cool, dark, and dirty than they are today. Earwigs would avoid a typical modern bedroom like the plague. 

There is no evidence that earwigs ever did like to crawl into people’s ears, though. This myth probably emerged because earwigs’ scary appearance triggered our forebears’ wild imagination. If this scary story helps you remember to wash your ears thoroughly, however, that can only be a good thing.

Are Earwigs Dangerous to Pets?

Earwigs will not seek out cats or dogs — but your pet won’t return the favor. As curious hunters, cats and dogs are likely to become excited whenever they see a bug, and chase after it. Just like an earwig would try to defend itself from humans who threaten them, they’ll use their pincers on cats and dogs as well. While people are most likely to have their hands pinched, cat and dog noses are a target, given the fact that these pets will try to devour earwigs. 

Earwig pinches do not pose a serious health risk to cats and dogs, but they can inflict serious pain. No veterinary assistance will be needed, however.

Are Earwigs Bad for Your Garden?

Yes, earwigs can pose a threat in the garden. As scavengers that can eat almost anything, they will take what’s on offer — including the roots of many of the plants you may be nurturing. Earwigs particularly enjoy strawberry, clover, celery, and dahlia roots. They can also eat the leaves of some young plants, in which case the visible damage they leave behind looks a lot like that inflicted by slugs. 

One easy way to defend your plants from earwigs would be to fill small containers with water and vegetable oil. As pest insects fall in, they will not be able to escape. Regularly weeding your garden and clearing decaying organic debris like fallen leaves will also help keep earwig populations in check naturally. 

Are Sowbugs dangerous?

Whether you spot a sowbug in your damp basement, under a tile that you have just lifted up, or in your plant soil, you’ll probably shudder a little. 

After you’ve recovered, the next question is if these bugs — which are also called woodlice — are dangerous. The answer may surprise you.

Do Sowbugs Bite?

Sowbugs are scavengers who breathe through gills and hence depend on highly humid or moist environments to survive. As omnivores, sowbugs will feed on a wide variety of organic substances. Their food sources range from decaying plant matter to fungi, algae, mulch, and other decaying organic debris, such as insect parts. Sowbugs have been known to target living seedlings and other vulnerable plants, like those you have recently transplanted, as well.

They do not, however, bite humans and pet animals. They do not sting, and they are not known to carry any diseases, either. Contrary to the fact that sowbugs are also called woodlice, they do not eat wood. As such, sowbugs do not pose a risk to your property — but their presence can alert you to a preexisting moisture or humidity problem.

Are Sowbugs Poisonous?

We can only offer you another resounding “no”. Unlike many other common household pests, ranging from dust mites to cockroaches and silverfish, sowbugs are not even associated with allergic reactions. 

Have you recently discovered a whole grouping of sowbugs in a damp area of your house, such as your basement or crawl space? Have you, perhaps, noticed that you’ve been experiencing uncomfortable symptoms like sneezing, a sore throat, swollen and itchy eyes, and shortness of breath, around the same time? It’s probably not the bugs.

Instead, the answer is most likely to lie in the same moisture the sowbugs were also attracted to. Homes with high relative humidity levels — meaning a humidity of 50 percent or higher — are also magnets for mold and dust mites. Both these common problems cause strong allergic reactions in people. In addition, high humidity levels can make you feel uncomfortable by themselves. 

Do Sowbugs Stink?

If you spot a collection of sowbugs under a flower pot or tile outdoors, you likely won’t smell anything but the fresh odor of the environment. When sowbugs have accumulated in damp spots within your home, however, you may be in for a nasty surprise. In larger numbers, sowbugs may emit an unpleasant odor that is often described as similar to urine. In addition to this stench, you may also grow to associate their presence with the smell of damp — and, potentially, mold. This smell is not emitted by sowbugs themselves, but rather by the environment which they thrive in.

Are Sowbugs Dangerous to humans?

Sowbugs do not pose any known danger to human health, and they will not destroy any part of your property either if you have found them indoors — since they only scavenge for the decaying organic matter that you would be happy to be rid of. That said, there are still a few reasons why many homeowners choose to get rid of them.

Sowbugs can, however, damage vulnerable plants, even killing them as they feed on roots and stems. Sowbugs are particularly known to target cucumbers, eating the skins as these vegetables lie on the ground. They can be a nuisance to keen gardeners for this reason. 

None of this means that having a sowbug infestation in your home is not a problem, however. Sowbugs can be considered to be helpful due to the fact that their presence can indicate a more widespread problem with moisture or high humidity. 

Because of this, you will want to seal cracks and crevices around your foundation walls to stop sowbugs from entering, and have any known leaks repaired immediately. You could buy an inexpensive humidity monitor to check if your basement or crawl space is excessively humid, and install a dehumidifier if you find that to be the case. When it comes to your garden, diatomaceous earth is your friend, as it will stop sowbugs from threatening your seedlings. 

How to get rid of Sowbugs

Sowbugs — also called woodlice — have an eerie and otherworldly appearance. The fact that sowbugs are not insects at all, but rather tiny crustaceans uniquely adapted to life in land, probably has a lot to do with that. 

The good news? Sowbugs don’t bite or sting, and they don’t generally cause damage within homes or gardens. Occasionally, their activity can threaten the health of vulnerable seedlings or plants you have recently transplanted, but that’s about the extent of the damage sowbugs can cause. 

When you find them within your home, sowbugs, which prefer highly-humid environments, can, however, indicate a moisture problem. When that is caused by climate or inadequate ventilation, high humidity levels also indicate that your home is at risk of developing mold and dust mite infestations. Where that is not the case, the persistent presence of sowbugs could point to a tricky leak somewhere deep in your pipes that you had not yet become aware of.

Seal Cracks and Holes

Sowbugs are scavengers who feed on decaying organic matter of both plant and bug origin. The fact that they are attracted to moist and dark areas makes the spaces within your home that meet this description their most likely hiding place. Crawl spaces, basements, and occasionally garages are would be their usual indoor hideouts. 

As they gravitate toward these spaces, one of the most effective ways to prevent sowbugs from gathering in your home would be to seal any cracks and holes that allow them entry. Install doorsweeps, and apply caulking. Have any cracks and seals in foundation walls professionally sealed, paying special attention to “joints” where one space joins another. Do this, and you’ll have won half the battle. 

Reduce Moisture

The fact that sowbugs thrive in highly-humid environments with humidity levels that exceed 60 percent is far from your only reason to reduce humidity and moisture within your home. Cockroaches and dust mites are two other examples of pests attracted by moisture, while highly humid environments also essentially invite a mold infestation with open arms. 

To reduce moisture and humidity everywhere on your property, you can take a number of steps:

  • Have any leaks in pipes, gutters, and roofs repaired as soon as possible. 
  • Increase ventilation. Yes, in most cases, that would be a fancy way of saying “open your windows every day, for at least 15 minutes”. When it comes to bathrooms and kitchens, however, you may have to install exhaust fans. 
  • In areas that cannot be aired adequately or rooms with persistent high humidity levels, you will instead want to consider installing a dehumidifier. These appliances offer an effective way to bring humidity levels down to safe levels in crawl spaces and basements, making them unattractive to sowbugs.

Once your humidity levels are consistently between 30 and 50 percent and no lingering sources of moisture remain, sowbugs will naturally disappear from your property.

Create a Barrier

Sowbugs are, remember, scavengers who set out in search of organic debris. Planting flowers and shrubs, or laying down mulch, close to your foundation walls is therefore a bad idea if you hate the thought of sowbugs in your home. The presence of these food sources will draw sowbugs into your property. It would be ideal for the area immediately adjacent to your foundation walls to be free from plants, flowers, and shrubs. 

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth, a fine powdered made up of prehistoric tiny water fossils, is a powerful natural pest control tool that works against more than just sowbugs. This substance is abrasive to many bugs, including sowbugs, and spreading it around will deter them. 

When you’re trying to prevent sowbugs from entering your basement or crawl spaces, diatomaceous earth can act as a wonderful barrier around your foundation walls. If you’ve spotted sowbugs in your garden, likely under rocks or flower pots, you may be worried about the health of your plants. In these cases, too,  diatomaceous earth is a simple solution.

Sowbugs are, fortunately, some of the easiest bugs to get rid of by taking only environmentally-friendly steps. By implementing these measures, you’ll be able to say goodbye to these unwelcome invaders in no time.

How to identify Sowbugs

More closely related to shrimp than to insects, they live out their entire lives on land. Because sowbugs do use gills to breathe, however, they need highly moist or humid environments. 

In addition, sowbugs prefer dark and soil-rich environments, and will do their best to hide from light. For this reason, you will commonly find sowbugs under tiles, flower pots, or within the soil surrounding plants. When sowbugs invade a home, these crawling bugs, which cannot fly, are most likely to be found in ground-level areas such as basements and crawl spaces. They may emerge from their hiding places to scavenge at night, and that offers another opportunity to spot them.

How do you identify sowbugs? Thankfully, their unique appearance makes the job quite easy. The only complication lies in the fact that pillbugs are quite similar, and many people confuse the two. 

What Do Sowbugs Look Like?

Sowbugs can be found all over the United States. In their adult forms, they:

  • Measure between six and 15 millimeters in length, and tend to have a width of up to eight millimeters
  • Have a deep gray color on top, and a faded gray color on their undersides
  • Can be recognized by a large number of “armored” segments that indeed make sowbugs resemble armadillos — hence their nickname “armadillo bug”
  • Have two long and sharp-looking segments at their rear ends, which look a bit like tails
  • Feature long and multi-segmented antennae, and although they have four in total, you are only likely to see two
  • Have seven pairs of legs, unlike insects, which have six legs

Immature sowbugs, which hatch from eggs after being carried on the mother’s body, look similar to adults, but are smaller.

What’s the Difference Between Sowbugs and Pillbugs?

Sowbugs and pillbugs belong to the same family of crustaceans, both being isopods. Because they are so similar in shape and color, they are often confused. Telling them apart is not made any easier by the fact that pillbugs and sowbugs thrive in identical environments and eat the same things. If you have been curious whether the bugs in your garden or home are sowbugs or pillbugs, there are a few easy ways to tell the difference:

  • Pillbugs can grow slightly larger than sowbugs, with some reaching a length of up to two centimeters
  • Pillbugs, although also predominantly gray, may have a brown hue
  • The shape of a pillbug’s body is somewhat rounder than that of a sowbug, and ticker as well
  • While sowbugs have characteristic appendages, often described as tails, protruding from their backsides, pillbugs do not possess this feature

Perhaps the most easily observable difference between sowbugs and pillbugs is, however, the fact that pillbugs have the ability to roll up into a ball-like shape when they are threatened. This has earned them the nickname “rolly pollies”. If you’re wondering if the bugs you’re looking at are pillbugs or sowbugs, give them a (gentle!) poke, and see if they roll up.

How Do I Know if I Have Sowbugs?

It is important to note that sowbugs may be considered a nuisance, but they pose no threat to human health. They do not bite, sting, or spread any diseases, they are not poisonous, and they do not provoke allergic reactions. They can, however, smell unpleasant — like urine. Although sowbugs are scavengers who look mainly for decaying plant matter, they can also damage seedlings and cucumbers. 

In your garden, you may find sowbugs by lifting objects like tiles and buckets up; these will be their hideouts during the day. You could also, occasionally, spot sowbugs around your plants or mulch, or you may see them crawling around at night. 

Within the home, you are most likely to find sowbugs in basements, crawl spaces, and perhaps garages. These areas of the home are simultaneously most likely to be dark and humid, and accessible to sowbugs. 

Fortunately, it is not difficult to get rid of sowbugs in the home. Lowering humidity levels, taking care of leaks, and sealing up any cracks will do the rick.