Saturday, May 31, 2008

Roly-Poly Problem


The blue-eyed grass started blooming this week. I took pictures a few days ago and all three of the plants appeared to be healthy. I was very concerned today when I noticed that one of the plants was nearly dead in the center. On closer inspection I noticed that the plant was full of pillbugs or roly-pollies . The grass was falling over and none of the pieces were firmly in the ground.


I gathered them up and planted them in other containers, hoping to salvage them. I checked other things in the gardens and noticed the spiderwort was looking distressed as well. I pulled back the mulch and noticed the pillbugs were all at the base of that plant too.

We have had a very wet spring, so that may be a contributing factor to the plague of pillbugs. I've always had them but have never had this many and I've never noticed them eating my plants before.

I've been having difficulty keeping any of my new plants alive because as soon as I plant them they are eaten. I don't know if the pillbugs are eating all of the young plants, but I know for certain they are responsible for the damage to the blue-eyed grass.

I researched on line trying to find a natural way to kill them. One suggestion was to wet newspaper, roll it up and lay it beside the plant they're eating. They will crawl inside because they like damp places and in the morning the papers can be collected and thrown away. I did this tonight and placed about 10-12 rolls of paper around the flowerbeds. I hope it works, but I can't imagine that it will eliminate them as quickly or as effectively as might be necessary. Has anyone else had this problem? What is a good, natural method for reducing the number of pillbugs?

17 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I had never heard of this method of getting rid of pill bugs. I have an over abundance of them this year too. I haven't noticed them doing any damage as yet. I will keep a look out for this. I can't wait to hear if someone has had ot deal with them...successfully too.

Carol said...

I've never had problems with pill bugs damaging plants, but learned when I visited Austin that many gardeners there do have trouble with them. They put upside down grapefruit rinds in their gardens. The pill bugs are attracted to those, and then the rinds can be thrown out in the morning. Same principle as the newspaper. The pillbugs like the moisture, and we've sure had a lot of moisture in Indiana this spring.

Jayne said...

I didn't know they were big eaters of plants like this. Hope you can find a way to get rid of them Robin. You've worked too hard to propagate your plants.

Gail said...

I hope your Blue Eyed Grass revives. It's pretty tough plant. It grows in the grass here, but that is the species not a pretty cultivar like you have.

Good luck with the pill collection. I really never liked those bugs.

jodi said...

This is new to me, too Robin; I've never seen any signs of pillbug damage, but then I tend to ignore most signs of insects, etc because they're not problematic for me. I'll cast about and see what I can find for possible solutions, but I think Carol's solution is probably a very wise one.

Tabatha said...

I was under the impression that they only eat plants that are already rotting. I've never had a problem with them. I hope you get your issue sorted out!

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Lisa, I've never had them do damage before either, but I think I have a major infestation this year.

Carol, I will definitely give that a try. Thank you.

Jayne, it has been frustrating to have them eat every single balloon flower I've put into the ground. I have a few more that I've put into containers until they are larger.

I hope so too, Gail. If these survive, I'll have eight plants instead of three. That would be a blessing in disguise.

Thanks, Jodi. I don't usually do anything about insects either, but there are so many of these that they are demolishing my dianthus too. I think they like the moist grassy plants.

Tabatha, these were healthy plants but they were very damp from all of the rain we've had. Hopefully this heat today will drive them away.

Karen said...

Robin - I've seen a big population increase of pill bugs in my garden this year too. Maybe because of all the rain? hmm, I will have to keep an eye on this let us know if the newspaper works!

Phillip said...

I've also noticed a lot of these in my garden this year but mainly in my garage. I didn't realize they harmed plants. I'll be curious to hear if your newspaper method works.

Sherri said...

What wonderful pics, as always! Thanks for sharing!!

Sherri said...

Robin, what type of camera do you have?

Connie said...

Ugh! Pill bugs are the bane of my garden. They love to chew on any new plants or seedlings. I will be checking back to see the suggestions for getting rid of them. I have taken to squishing them with my fingers, but that is pretty ineffective because of their sheer numbers...not to mention it is quite unpleasant, ha.

Amy said...

I had no idea pill bugs could damage plants! I've been noticing them in the front yard and wondered if they would cause trouble. Nothing so far, but I'll keep an eye on them!

Anna said...

That's a lot of damage. I hope you find a solution. I wonder if neem oil would help. I'll go google the affects of neem oil on pill bugs. Gosh--so sorry and your poor seedlings. That is such a shame.

Anna said...

Robin, I have Ortho's brand of Neem Oil and I actually read the directions on that stuff today and was shocked to see that it said--don't use on non woody plants. So I called the company and said they have never tested it on non woody plants. I'll be doing more research on this. Just wanted to get back with you about the Neem oil and the pill bugs infestation--OH, and don't forget to bring cake when you come down on Saturday;)

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I've had problems with pill bugs for years eating my plants. I've had people tell me that they are harmless & only eat dead plant material. I answer, "You're lucky." I'll be trying the overturned flowerpot filled with shredded newspaper this year, as I have to try that anyway for the Earwigs.

charitygirl said...

Lisa - I live in the northeast and use newspapers and light cardboard under my mulch to eliminate weeds and pests. This might work for you. Also a weak dishwashing liquid solution might work. Hope you have success getting rid of them.