not insects, as is evident by the number of legs, seven pairs as opposed to the
three pairs that insects have. Sowbugs are actually crustaceans, so their
closest relatives include things like fresh water shrimp, crabs, crayfish and
lobsters. Sowbugs are often common in gardens, hiding in damp places under logs
and rocks. They feed primarily on detritus, dead plant and animal matter,
including rotting wood. They are very effective decomposers and are often an
integral part of a compost heap.
Identification: The oval shape,
greyish color and fourteen legs should separate the Sow Bug from any other
creature. Adults may be up to 15 mm long (about 1/2 inch).
Distribution: This is not a native species, although it is found throughout much
of North America. It was introduced from Europe. In Canada and the United States
it is presently restricted to cities and suburbs, and is probably found in most larger
Sowbugs are dormant in the winter. But, when the
ground thaws in the spring, they become active and stay active until the first hard frost.
Habitat and habits: Sowbugs love dark, damp places and are most common in yards
under wood or rocks. The more tangled an area one has, the more likelihood they
are present. Compost heaps are a great retreat for this animal. They also often
crawl through spaces in the foundation or through basement windows and end up in
the basement where they can survive quite well if the basement is unfinished.
They feed primarily on detritus, dead plant and animal matter, including rotting
Comments: People often find these creatures in their basements, and are
concerned about the possibility that they may do damage to the house or that
they may be dangerous in other ways. Older houses with dry rot might suffer some
damage as a result of Sowbugs, but this is likely to be minimal. They cannot
bite humans and are not poisonous. In some areas some species of Sowbugs can be
pests on cultivated plants. They are also very effective decomposers and are
often an integral part of a compost heap.