The Q&A Archives: Roly Polies on Tomatoes

Question: I have zillions of roly-polies, the little round what's its. They are often on the lower foliage of my tomato plants early in the morning, by the dozens. This foliage is very brown; are they the cause or are they just feasting on rotting foliage? What can I do about them? They are everywhere!!

Answer: Roly-Poly's are often called sow bugs or pill bugs. They generally are quite happy living near the top of the soil and munching down on decaying organic matter. We consider them beneficials in the garden for that reason. While it's possible the bugs are causing problems with the leaves of your tomato plants, it's more likely that they are attacking the foliage because it's decomposing. You can make traps out of dampened newspapers, lay them on the soil at night, and roll them up in the morning, bugs and all. If you put the traps in the compost, the bugs will be transported to a better place to carry out their mission. Remove the dead and dying foliage on your plants and toss that into the compost, as well. Without the attraction of rotting foliage, the pill bugs should remain on or in the soil surface where they belong.

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