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Sunday, June 11, 2017

about roly poly aka pill bug

So, many folk will see on internet that these are helping to decompose organic matter and do not harm plants. Both true, but as usual... it depends.
I't the matter of preferences actually :).
IT is true they will not harm my herb bed. But I do not have an abundance of things like hyssop yet and I found them quite successfully eating inside of an onion.
There are plants roly poly do not care about, and there are they do, and quite  lot.

Roly-poly is not a bug to clarity, they are relative to shrimp, they are crustaceans.

So what do roly poly care about:
strawberry (fruit)
rhubarb - leafs (and those are poison... dah..)
cucumber, pepper, tomatoes, lettuce, beats - seedling and young plants (leaves)
depending on quantities seedling of any kind (found they generally do not eat garlic and onions)

pri-poly does not seem to care in poly-culture setting about 'scare awat' plants, they do not care of bait plants much either...

They do care of bait

Baits I use I described here Roly poly baits and other

watermelon works. what else?.. any melon, butternut (most effective, long lasting), potatoes, apples (peals)
yeast solution (make a weak beet basically) in cups (they will drown)
news paper rolled...mildly effective, collects earwigs so

Organic insecticide (for large problems and when chickens, guinea hen are not option due to timing and you do not have enough snakes or wild birds.)
- spinosad is bacteria derived: very expensive and very effective on poultry lice and these (and others). non selective, long lasting in shade or anywhere out of sun, applying spinosad in full sun is not very effective $$/time wise.
- pyrethin chrysanthemum derived. not selective, on contact for ants and many other insects. does not break as fast in sun.
 - neem oil... found that be mostly i not palatable for pill bugs area. if there are very many they will still eat
- disputatious earth (aka DE)... mildly effective, will scare your earth worms deeper, so wild birds will get less of them

So why I did not put spinosad right now, or pyrethrin in garden?
At this moment it's a tabu for me because I have baby praying mantis in teh garden, tiny ones about a centimeter big , I need these, both spinosad and pyrethin are non selective kill all, they basically short circuit bugs. I may have to use it on cucumber row at soil level specifically next year around and be sure to move all the mantises pods from there and see how that would go. Spinosad will work for month out of sun. I did use that on chicken lice (thank you wild sparrows, you re officially extra filthy with lice by the way...) and one application in middle of the winter is all I needed to have live be gone. I applied that into the coop to just in case if any of those wild bids had any mites. No lice, no mites, did not see a single one.

I used both insecticides not in garden
  on chicken lice - spinosad,
  on carpenter ants - pyrethrin, on delivered by tree service log before i burned it all in bits in single day... just for the good measure because I do not like carpenter ants idea on my property regardless of their benefits... that's a no-no, not having these they can go life some other place. It was a single case when tree service folk did not notice the ants they are pretty good at delivering bug free logs to me and I inspect logs same day, each one (power lifting, oh well...) and I do not take logs during ant queens flying season (guess why :) ... in case someone missed something ) ...
Red robins have very good taste for the carpenter ants by the way, they do not seem to care about fire ants (I have several colonies on the property far from the house for the bug control), I have them marked so folk do not go and get into them, they bite you know. I think I have 3 fire ants hills on my property, relatively evenly spread, and couple by the road, so they do some good deed and I can live with them far from the house. Meaning I do not like ants in my structures or my house. I like them outdoors where they belong.

I found traps of water melon and other melons most effective, and beer/yeas  traps to get roly-poly.

Young chickens that are trained by mama hen to eat roli poli. They are non selective so, and will eat plants first if they seem to have a need. Mine prefer sorrel over anything else. Thy are effective for perimeter bug control. In garden itself young seedlings and a 'pack' of 20 chickens do not mix.
Just saying from the experience, one needs a chicken pack with strong preference for the bugs and not all are, even among foraging breeds.

Guinea hens are a better pick, 80% of the diet are bugs, however these are ... loud... very. If you are on a farm and far from neighbors in A1 zoning, then yes, these are your good fit.
Ducks are a good fit in vineyard setting. and chickens, however chickens will jump for grapes, not kidding...

Wild birds will feed on roly poly when they bring up young, but they do prefer garden worms above roly poly, chickens and guinea hens do prefer those too.
I do not set young 2 month old chicks in garden because they are hawk food in here.
so for me traps on watermelon and other things are a way to go about it.
And wet news paper traps for earwigs.
Bail, collect, feed chickens is  a way I go about it. Chickens do go on clean up duty in garden when my currants are harvested and my tomatoes and cucumber-squash are bug and when I do not care about demolished sorrel... Herding feeding chicken in a garden... ever tried to herd cats?... chicken are worse :) and mine have strong preference for earth worms.

what are other ways of dealing with roly poly I found on internet. Videos are good and I hardly make any of my own, but other folk did.

very similar to my watermelon traps. I take good bit of soil too, and when my chickens are done with that soil it goes back to the garden.
She has not too many. Early spring I have a lot more.

pill bug eating a pear. they eat strawberry just the same, and a lot of them

I figured a close up would be good to see for folk who believe that these bugs will not eat plants and fruits, they do. They are not particular... or best to say they are not selective,
They will feed on decay in winter, when it comes spring they will prefer something else if have the opportunity.

In green house:
caps around plants.
I have mulch in arid climate, so in my case it depends...I had some partial success with that...

Good for the green house when I build one.

Duck tape. Using that...

What are roly-poly anyways?

Here is pill bug (not poly-poly)
and this is about using oils and spices. When one has large quantities of these... nay, traps are more effective. However I'll go for orange oil around plants maybe in test area where I know I do not have mantises pods for sure.

Bear traps video, and I like fellow gardener videos that took time to make them.

Another gardener about pill bugs and aphids... what can I say... I do prefer spiders and praying mantises to eat aphids and that's why I have a habitat for them and plenty room to hide. Well... birds... yeah
Anyways, the video shows roly-poly does not care of aphids like critters. At least mine do not.

How far roly-poly can crawl...
and they are pretty fast. lots of video about something else, night video about how fast they move.

what to make a trap out of? Paper traps.


  1. Here is someone trying to do composting with these...

  2. I tested the last video with 1/4 vinegar 1 part water and some dish soap. In parer dixy like plates. caught 5 spiders. no go.

  3. The best go is water melon rinds. If one has a deal with grocery store and can have them collect rinds all you need is put these in garden and a pair of common grackle families. the will auto-clean up in the morning watermelon and the bugs. But if you do not have that many watermelons set up these under paper bowls or tin cans, collect in morning. Dry the bugs or feed to chickens or both and feed to the chickens later in season when they molt you will have 'rollies' eggs.Last year my hens liked that set up quite a lot. Chickens do not go into the garden right now, they will tear up into pieces all my new plants. And I do not have guinea hens do do the deed better... Ducks I tried last year... they are way messy because I have predators at night every bird is locked in... managing them n morning and day ... not a good set up...Wild birds will multiply with time and I do not baby sit those :). So rinds traps under paper plates so far is a way to go for me in my dead 95F+ heat.