Image Credit: Roberta H. taken in Staten Island, NY
Small, armored Sowbugs may go by many other names, but Pillbug and Roly Poly are not one of them.
Sowbugs are small, crawling Isopods, not insects. They cannot fly and do not sting. They are shaped like a bean and have many small legs hidden under their gray segmented armor plates. They are sometimes likened to a mini-armadillo. Sowbugs, however, do not roll up to protect themselves, like their similar-looking relatives, Pillbugs. To differentiate between these two types of Isodpods, look for two small tail-like appendages at the rear end. Sowbugs have them; Pillbugs do not. Sowbugs also have two pairs of antennae, though the second set is not easily visible.
Like Pillbugs, however, they can be found under stones, large rocks, logs, leaf litter, compost, mulch, and wood stacks. In fact, another name for a Sowbug is Woodlouse. They scavenge for decomposing organic debris in these areas. It is not unusual to see a few under the same stone or log, all searching for food. They prefer moist areas and head toward darker, more humid areas if displaced. Infestations are not likely and they are not considered a nuisance. If any find do their way indoors, they are unlikely to live long unless they find a damp, cool place. Removing debris and maintaining a dry interior will reduce the likelihood of seeing them inside.
Scientific Name: Oniscus spp.
Other Name(s): Woodlouse, Woodlice
Size (Adult; Length): 6mm to 12mm (0.23in to 0.47in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.