Actual Size: ¼ “ to ½”

Characteristics: Oval; dark to slate gray.

Legs: Yes – 14

Antennae: Yes

Wings: No

Habitat: Thrive in high moisture areas and are common under mulch, compost, boards, stones, flower pots, and other items resting on damp ground.


  • When disturbed or threatened, will roll up into a tight ball.
  • Attracted to moisture, and will only survive for a few days indoors.
  • Often known as roly-polies.

Sowbugs in Bristol

For the most part, sowbugs are almost identical in appearance and behavior to the pillbug. While the pillbug has a segmented body that enables it to roll into a ball, the sowbug does not. Instead, they have flatter bodies with two tail-like appendages extending from the rear end. Both bugs are similar in behavior and habitat, and are commonly found outside under stones, rocks, wood, etc. Because sowbugs have gills, they need a constant source of moisture in order to survive. In general, sowbugs are nocturnal as well as avid scavengers—their preferred diet is decomposing organic matter, including leaves and other decaying plant matter.

Sowbug Habitat

Sowbugs thrive in moist environments and can be found outdoors under mulch, fallen leaves, and rocks. Sowbugs are nocturnal and require humid conditions during the day. Sowbugs are scavengers and feed mainly on organic matter. They may leave their natural habitats at night and crawl about over sidewalks, patios, and foundations. Sowbugs can become a nuisance as they often invade crawl spaces, damp basements and first floors of structures at ground level.

Sowbug Behaviors & Dangers

Sowbugs do not bite or sting and cannot damage household furnishings. Sowbugs are mainly a nuisance pest, especially when they venture indoors. They are harmless to people but can damage the roots of plants when they eat. Sowbugs typically enter buildings through door thresholds, especially homes with sliding glass doors on the ground level. Seeing a sowbug in the home usually means that there is a large population outdoors.

If you suspect a sowbug issue, contact your local pest control company.