So, you have pill bugs in your bathroom.
In this pest control guide, you’ll learn:
- Why pill bugs are in your bathroom
- How to get rid of them naturally
- Ways to repel and keep them out for good
- And more
Sound good? Let’s get your bathroom cleaned up!
Last updated: 12/30/19.
What’s a pill bug?
A pillbug is a common bug you see outdoors when you lift up a rock or leaf from the dirt.
Everyone’s seen them before as a kid. Usually, they’re found outdoors and not a problem. But sometimes they may end up wandering around into your bathroom or home.
Pill bugs have many different names that all mean the same thing:
- Roly poly
- Pill bug
- Rolly polly
- Doodle bug
- Slater bug
Do roly polys lay eggs?
Yes and no. Not directly onto any surface. The pregnant females carries the babies in a pouch until they hatch. The pouch is filled with fluid and keeps the babies clean.
The eggs are carried between her legs under her body in a marsupium, which is an egg pouch. Several dozens of roly poly babies are carried at any given time. The eggs hatch about 4-6 weeks later and turn into adults 12 months later.
So technically, yes, roly polys lay eggs. But they carry the eggs on their legs.
Why do I have roly poly bugs in my bathroom?
The number one reason why you have pill bugs in your bathroom is because of the moist, humid environment. Roly poly bugs don’t normally infest homes, but sometimes may seek out the moisture or humid environment of your bathroom.
This is especially true during the colder seasons when outdoor humidity drops and it becomes dry. The same goes for warmer seasons.
Pillbugs may enter your bathroom from various cracks, crevices, voids, and other entryways. They can get into your home through cracks in your foundation, vents, and crawl spaces.
Then they can travel to your bathroom, kitchen, basement, or other humid areas through your plumbing system.
Bathrooms are usually the most humid area of the entire home. So it makes sense why you would have pill bugs in the bathroom. This is why you get roly poly bugs in the house. They want humid and damp environments.
Do pill bugs prefer wet or dry?
Roly poly bugs need wet and humid environments to survive. They’re not actually bugs, but rather isopod crustaceans which belong to the same group as shrimp.
Outdoors in their natural environment, they live in forests and woody areas where the environment is wet.
The dampness and moisture of these environments allow them to breed and sustain their life cycle. Pill bugs are a nocturnal species and are most active during the night. They come out to feed during that time.
However, you’ll also find them during the day hiding under leaf litter, debris, rocks, stones, and more. Ever lifted a rock outdoors in your yard and saw a bunch of sowbugs under it?
What are pill bugs attracted to?
Roly polys are attracted to organic matter. They eat organic materials and quickly help decompose it into the soil. They can also purify soil by eating up the toxins and metals.
Organic materials are things like decaying leaves, plant matter, or dead animals, rodents, and plants. Anything that’s organic and natural can be food for pill bugs.
Of course, you probably don’t have any of these materials in your home. Unless you have houseplants, you should have nothing that attracts woodlice into your home. If you see any, the pest probably snuck its way into your home through a crack.
And the only reason its there is because it’s dry outside, so it’s seeking water and moisture. And your bathroom offers that, so that’s why pill bugs are in your bathroom.
Do pill bugs prefer salt or sugar?
Studies show that pill bugs prefer sweeter edibles over salty edibles. Although this doesn’t really apply to the bathroom, you can use it to gauge why they may be in your home.
Why do pill bugs come inside?
They come indoors to seek moisture and a humid environment which is what they’re attracted to.
The humidity may have dropped outdoors due to weather or changing seasons, thus they seek out other environments for them to sustain their livelihood.
Are pill bugs bad?
Roly poly bugs are harmless to humans as they don’t bite, sting, or transmit diseases. They’re also harmless towards plants, as they don’t usually eat garden plants under most conditions. Outdoors they’re beneficial.
But when you have in your bathroom or kitchen, you probably want to get rid of them. Who wants bug in the house, right? This is when they become an actual problem. Otherwise, they pose no harm to humans and plants.
Are pill bugs beneficial?
Pill bugs aren’t necessarily good or bad. It depends on how you find them and what they’re doing.
Pill bugs can be beneficial outdoors because they can help remove heavy metals from your garden soil. These metals include cadmium, lead, and arsenic.
They can remove them safely from your soil so you don’t ingest them though your edible fruits and vegetables. They’re basically nature’s janitor for purifying soils outdoors.
They also eat organic materials, which means they help decompose materials into pure soil faster. This will help your plants grow.
The problem is when they come into your home. That’s when they can become a nuisance. Can you imagine watching TV and then having a roly poly crawl onto your neck? There’s no soil there.
- Outdoors? Yes, roly polys are beneficial.
- Indoors? No, they’re a nuisance and a pest.
How do I get rid of pill bugs in my bathroom?
There are multiple ways you kill and repel any roly polys in your bathroom. Here are a few easy remedies you can do at home for cheap. See what works best for you.
Maintain your home
This is probably the only guaranteed solution that’ll get rid of pill bugs, but also the most labor-intensive.
The reason why you have pill bugs in your bathroom or home in the first place is that they got in somehow. If you block up all the possible entry points, then they can’t get into your bathroom.
There are many common entry points that you can inspect and see if there are cracks. Then you’ll need to patch or fix them. This will prevent all future pill bugs from coming into your home again- among many other pests like house centipedes and brown recluses.
Inspect these common areas of pillbug infestation:
- Caulk or seal cracks in your home’s foundation
- Repair any damaged window screening or door screening
- Use weatherstripping around doors, windows, and patio doors
- Seal up gaps under doors and windows
- Caulk openings around pipes
Seal up any other entry points from the outdoors that may allow pillbugs to enter your home.
Clean up your garden
The sowbugs that made their way to your bathroom came from outdoors.
This is because you have a nest of them in your yard or garden. If you clean up the garden, you’ll reduce the number of pill bugs outside. This will then reduce the number of pill bugs inside. Does that make sense?
Pill bugs feed on organic matter and hide under debris. If you keep your outside garden free of debris, you’ll have fewer pillbugs to deal with.
Here are some tips on keeping your garden free from roly polys:
- Clean up all leaf litter
- Remove stones and rocks that you don’t need
- Mulch your soil often
- Pick up your grass clippings
- Prune your overgrown plants
- Don’t leave any decaying plants or leaves
- Secure your trash cans and compost
- Don’t overwater
- Don’t over-fertilize
This should get you started on garden maintenance.
Just like many other pests, essential oils can be used to kill sowbugs.
There are some oils that are more effective than others:
These oils can be purchased at specialty stores or apothecaries.
Add a few drops of the oil into a spray bottle, and then dilute it with a few cups of water. When you spray it, you should be able to smell the oil, but it shouldn’t be overpowering.
Note that some animals, people, and pets may be sensitive or allergic to essential oils. So always do your research before using any.
Cinnamon seems to be particularly effective against pill bugs from the research I did online. You can add 1-2 drops of the oil to 8 cups of water.
Dilute it more if you think the scent is too strong. You can spray the oils directly onto the bugs to kill them upon contact. The scent may also help repel pill bugs from your bathroom.
Dish soap can be an effective pill bug killer when used properly. Add a few drops of dish soap to a cup of water.
Pour both mixtures into a spray bottle. It should be enough to make bubbles when you shake the spray bottle. Then spray the dish soap mixture directly onto the rolly pollies. This should kill them right away.
Clean up the dead bugs after you kill them or else you may end up attracting more bugs to your bathroom.
Powerful spices can be an effective DIY home remedy for pill bugs. To make it, you’ll need any kind of spice oil or powder:
- Chili pepper oil
- Jalapeno (diced)
- Cayenne pepper powder
- Garlic spray
You can use the spice in any form (liquid, oil, powder, or diced). Add it to a spray bottle and dilute it with water.
This should make you a spicy spray you can use as a natural pesticide to kill pill bugs in your bathroom.
Garlic can also be used as an organic and natural way to get rid of pill bugs. Just use a whole garlic clove and dice it, then place the diced garlic into a spray bottle.
Add water and shake the bottle. Then spray it on the pill bugs to kill them. Easy enough. Clean up the dead pill bugs after you’re done.
DE can be used as a pill bug killer and repellent. It won’t kill the bugs right away, but it’ll kill them over time. You can buy DE at most department stores.
Sprinkle it around the edges of your bathroom walls, counters, and doors. When pill bugs walk over the DE, it’ll dehydrate them and eventually kill them. You can use diatomaceous earth as a natural barrier against sowbugs and many other pests.
Note that DE doesn’t work as effectively in humid environments. Since this is in your bathroom, you’ll have to replace the DE every month to keep its effectiveness.
You can vacuum up the older powder easily to remove it when you need to replace it. Be sure to wear gloves and a face mask.
Although DE is natural and not harmful to humans, you’ll want to watch out for pets and kids and anyone with sensitivities. Avoid contact when possible just to err on the side of caution.
Does borax kill pill bugs?
Boric acid can kill pill bugs just like diatomaceous earth. You can use boric acid and line your home and bathroom as a makeshift barrier to keep the bugs out.
The powder prevents sowbugs from entering your home in the first place, so you’ll need to place it strategically around your home.
Some areas that are especially helpful:
- Around any foundation cracks
- Under doorways
- Around crevices or cracks
- Patio doors
- Around the garden
- Throughout your home
- Bathroom door
Use it in areas that are humid and dark, as pill bugs tend to prefer these environments.
Be sure to use gloves and masks to prevent contact and breathing the powder. Some pets, plants, and humans may be sensitive to boric acid.
How to keep pill bugs out of the bathroom
Other than the methods above, you can do a few other things to repel pill bugs from your bathroom and home. Here are some other tips you may find handy:
Use dehumidifiers in rooms where pill bugs are present
The dryness of the air keeps them out naturally. They need humid environments to survive, and if it’s dry, they’ll stay away.
Use fans or air circulators
Fans help keep the air moving, which definitely helps keep the humidity and moisture levels low. This may help keep the bathroom dry enough to not attract more sowbugs.
Open your window during showers
If you have a windowed bathroom, consider leaving the window open at all times, or at least during showers.
This will help move the humidity out of the bathroom and keep the moisture level down. And thus, it will help deter pill bugs from your bathroom.
- Pill bugs emerged from the sea to conquer the Earth – PBS
- Pillbugs – PNNL
- Sowbugs and Pillbugs – UKY
Did you clean up your bathroom?
This guide should be enough information to get you started. Pill bugs don’t usually come into homes for no reason. If you find them in your bathroom, basement, or other dark and damp areas, they’re usually trying to get moisture.
As long as you keep your bathroom dry, practice yard maintenance, and keep your home in good condition, you should have no problem with rolly pollies anymore.
Questions? Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
Or if you found this tutorial to be helpful, tell me! Consider telling a friend who may have the same problem!
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.