Do Roly Poly (Pill) Bugs Bite?

Author: Kurt Treftz, Cascade Pest Control

As children, many of us knew the joy of rolling over a rotten log or long-standing rock and discovering the fascinating creatures living beneath. But even more compelling perhaps was the way these many legged “bugs” would curl into a hard little ball to protect themselves. We might have been told by those older and wiser that it was called a pill bug or roly poly or armadillo bug or doodle bug or potato bug.

No matter what they were called; however, they were fascinating to our younger selves. Did you know that these interesting roly poly pill bugs are more closely related to lobsters than insects and they breathe through gills?!

But now that you are an adult and perhaps a home or business owner, you might be wondering if roly poly pill bugs pose a threat to life or property.  Should you be concerned if you find a pile of them in your yard, garage, or even basement?

The short, and blessedly easy, answer is no. Roly Polies are actually about as harmless a bug as you could have around.

1.  Roly Poly Bugs Don’t Bite

Roly poly bugs do not bite or sting. They are quite harmless to humans and livestock. In fact, they make great science/nature walk projects because they are fascinating to watch and won’t harm little ones (then don’t even urinate). When disturbed, the most they are likely to do is roll up into a defensive little ball, a process called conglobation. In fact, they rarely feed on living plants or crops so they pose little threat to home gardens or agricultural land.

2.  Pill Bugs Don’t Transmit Disease

These critters also don’t carry any diseases. Pill bugs won’t be responsible for passing along any contagion to plants or animals. In general, they are extremely benign and prefer to be left alone. In fact, they are nocturnal creatures who are typically hidden during the day (likely under the rock or log that your childhood self uncovered).

3.  Roly Poly Bugs Don’t Destroy Property

Unlike other pests like carpenter ants or termites, roly poly bugs do not pose any threat to structures. Typically, a roly poly needs very moist environments, so even if one made it indoors, it is likely to die within a few days unless you have a leaking pipe or moist basement corner. If you do find a large collection of these creatures inside, you might want to check for water issues.  

4.  Roly Poly Bugs are Beneficial

In addition to their harmlessness, they are actually quite beneficial to the ecosystem. Pill bugs are scavengers. Their main diet consists of decaying plants and other decomposing material. They break it down and return the nutrients to the soil.  They are also harbingers of ecological change as they are sensitive to changes in the climate. Called “biological indicators”, these creatures can provide information on the health of an ecosystem.

All this being said, it is also true that we would like to keep them outside, where we can study and appreciate them in their own habitat. If you find them making their way inside, reach out to the experts at Cascade Pest Control to help you get on top of the problem. And take a few steps to keep them at bay. 888-989-8979


  • Check foundation and seal any cracks
  • Keep foundation free of accumulating leaves and other plant matter
  • Ensure that water runs away from your foundation and doesn’t pool
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