I am being overrun by pill/sow bugs. They are destroying my hostas, new plants, lamium and they have even completely devoured several marigolds down to the stem. Aren’t all pests supposed to loathe marigolds? If I pick up a plant to take a look under it, sure enough, there will be loads of those suckers in various sizes. Help!
I always thought that pill/sow bugs only ate dead and decaying matter, but sounds like some species can be a garden pest too. I think it is rather uncommon for them to eat live plants, so I might look to see if there isn’t another pest eating your plants as well. The pill/sow bugs might be attracted to plants that are dying from a fungal problem, as it would produce plenty of decaying material for them to eat. They really like dampness, so I imagine the best way to discourage them would be to make sure your garden is nice and clean, has good air flow, and not too many dark places to hide. On the whole pill/sow bugs are considered beneficial in the garden for their valuable skills as decomposers.
That’s what I always thought too, but I have caught the little buggers munching on the stems of otherwise healthy marigolds and can’t help but think they are the culprit.
They are actually chewed down to the stem–completely defoliated. My hostas were healthy until I noticed the bugs, but both the hostas and my lamium are also now getting moldy stuff growing under them and the underside and leaves are dying. I guess the bugs could have been attracted by that decay, but I saw them BEFORE the decay which makes me think they are spreading it or making the plant vulnerable to it. Ugh.
This is happening in different areas all over my garden. Wherever they are — there are loads of them, not just a few. Endless rain here in SW PA is not helping the situation either.
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.