Question: I live in Oklahoma and we have had excessive amounts of rain this summer. I have a problem with roly poly's, which I have never had before. They have completely devoured my petunias. How do I get rid of them so I can replant? I assume they are the product of all this rain. thnx

Answer: Sowbugs feed primarily on decaying plant material and are very important in the process of decomposing organic matter in the garden. However, they may occasionally feed on plants when populations are high and there's a lot of competition for food. Sowbugs breathe through gills and require a moist environment. Try to limit moisture on the soil surface by using a coarse mulching material such as bark mulch that will allow moisture to pass quickly through, down into the soil. Also try to remove old decaying leaves from the plants, and eliminate hiding places in the garden such as boards, flowerpots and groundcovers like ivy. Black plastic mulches are also helpful in discouraging sowbugs because they eliminate soil dampness and get too hot in the summertime to provide shelter for sowbugs. You can also spread sharp sand or diatomaceous Earth around plantings to discourage these bugs. They don't like the sharp edges of these materials, but both materials will have to be reapplied after a rain. Another solution, one that's the easiest, is to simply make traps for them. Take a few sheets of newspaper and roll them into a tube. Get the newspaper wet and set several of these tubes in your garden in the evening. Sowbugs will crawl into them overnight. In the morning simply fold both the ends over to trap the pests and then throw it into your garbage. Make new traps to set in the garden each evening. After a week or so of trapping, you will have reduced the population by quite a bit.

Best wishes with your garden.

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