The Q&A Archives: pill bugs and snails

Question: Hi, I've read that pill bugs can be beneficial and harmful at the same breath in the vegetable garden, should I just ignore them or eradicate them? Also what is the best pesticide for use in the vegetable garden for pill bugs and snails without harming the ecology and oneself? Thank you, Ms Lucy Ling

Answer: Pillbugs, or sowbugs, are one of those beneficial soil dwelling critters that consumes decaying organic debris. They help break down dead plant matter, so killing them isn't recommended. Sometimes their populations, especially in cool, damp soils, gets overwhelming and they begin to attack living plant material. You can trap them by placing damp folded newspapers on the soil in the evening. The bugs will crawl between the folds to hide. In the morning pick up the newspapers and put them in the compost pile, where the bugs will help break down plant debris. After a few days of transporting the bugs out of your garden, you won't have such a problem with them, and they'll be in the compost where they can do the most good. If you don't have a compost pile, just toss the papers in the trash. Slugs and snails can be controlled with the iron based product Sluggo. Whatever is not consumed will break down into simple iron, which is good for the soil. Best wishes with your garden!

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