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Organic Garden Pest Control: 4 Ways to Get Rid of Roly-Polies

Lynn has been a professional organic farmer for the last 35 years and runs a 210-acre farm in Western Colorado with her husband.

Removing roly-polies and sowbugs from your garden doesn't have to be difficult.

Removing roly-polies and sowbugs from your garden doesn't have to be difficult.

Organic Garden Pest Control

Are there plants disappearing from your garden? Are there holes in the leaves? Are your plants sticky? You might have a pest problem in your garden, and pests can plague a garden any time of year. Getting the bugs and pests eliminated is the key to getting a good crop. Several notorious garden pests come around every year and destroy gardens. So it's time to get after those pests and reclaim your garden.

Roly-Poly, Sowbug, and Pillbug Identification

Sowbugs and pillbugs (better known as roly-polies) are in the crustacean family. It's simple to tell the difference between the two. Pillbugs have the ability to roll up, and sowbugs can't, so they just run for cover.

Some people claim that roly-polies are not destructive to a garden, but I have witnessed firsthand how much they can eat. Here are the top four ways to naturally get roly-polies out of your garden.

1. Handpick Roly-Polies

The first option is to just handpick them. Go out early in the morning or late in the evening and pick them. You can put them in a jar and feed them to your chickens, or you can move them to another place.

2. Use a Homemade Trap

The second method is to use a trap. You can trap them under a cantaloupe or half a potato.

How to Make a Potato Trap

  1. Cut a potato in half.
  2. Hollow out the center of half of the potato.
  3. Lay it upside down in the garden.

The roly-polies will crawl into it, and then you can just scoop them off and move them elsewhere—or feed them to your chickens.

How to Make a Cantaloupe Trap

  1. Cut a cantaloupe in half.
  2. Scoop out the seeds and eat most of the cantaloupe, leaving a little bit of flesh.
  3. Set that whole cantaloupe half upside down in the garden.
  4. Discard roly-polies the next day.

Those are two great ways to organically trap roly-polies. Whichever trap you use, you'll need to go out every morning and scoop up the roly-polies to remove them from the garden.

3. Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth

The third way is to sprinkle some diatomaceous earth on the garden. Diatomaceous earth is ground-up, fossilized seashells, and they're super, super sharp. As roly-polies walk through it, they get those shards up under their shells., which cause punctures that dehydrate and kill them.

4. Apply Sluggo Plus

The fourth way is to use a product called Sluggo Plus. Follow the directions on the package, but you just need to sprinkle it on the garden each week, and it'll cut down on the roly-poly population. It is an organic material that you can use in your garden.

Look at your garden at night to find pests you would miss in the daylight.

Look at your garden at night to find pests you would miss in the daylight.

Identifying Other Pests in Your Garden

With a little bit of vigilance and a little bit of effort, you can get those pesky roly-polies out of your garden. If you've rid your garden of roly-polies and sowbugs, and you still can't figure out what's eating your plants, go out at night with a flashlight and take a look. The garden is a whole other world at night. It's worth just going out and looking at it because it looks so different. Many pests come out at night to eat, and that's a great place to start identifying them.

May your garden be easy, fun, productive, and always organic.

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© 2021 Lynn Gillespie

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