Actual Size: ¼ to ½”

Characteristics: Oval shaped body that is dark gray.

Legs: 14

Antennae: 2 pairs

Wings: No

Habitat: Attracted to dark and damp areas. Often found beneath leaf litter, stones, and other organic material outdoors.


  • Commonly mistaken for sowbugs, but pillbugs can roll into a tight ball.
  • Can only survive a few days without moisture.
  • More frequently found outdoors and generally don’t survive long inside.

Pillbugs in Memphis TN Metro Area

Pillbugs, being one of the few crustaceans that have successfully adapted to terrestrial life, are widely distributed across the United States. These arthropods, along with sowbugs, share a resemblance and are actually more closely related to shrimp and crayfish than to insects. Famously referred to as roly-polies, pillbugs possess the remarkable ability to curl themselves into a compact ball when disturbed or faced with a threat. Their distinctive feature is their segmented back, comprising of seven rigid plates. Pillbugs have a crucial requirement for moisture, which is why they cannot survive indoors for an extended period unless the environment offers exceptionally high levels of dampness.

Pillbug Habitat

Pillbugs flourish in damp surroundings and are commonly encountered outdoors beneath mulch, fallen foliage, and rocks. Like their counterparts, sowbugs, pillbugs are nocturnal creatures that necessitate humid conditions during the day. These crustaceans are frequently found in moist soil, alongside other organisms such as millipedes and earthworms. At night, pillbugs may venture away from their natural habitats and traverse sidewalks, patios, and foundations. As they often invade crawl spaces, damp basements, and the ground-level first floors of structures, they can become a source of annoyance.

Pillbug Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Pillbugs are harmless to humans as they do not possess the ability to bite or sting, and they are not associated with any known threats or diseases. Furthermore, they do not contaminate food sources. However, when they venture indoors, pillbugs can become a nuisance pest. They have the capability to feed on delicate plant tissue and occasionally inflict significant damage to garden transplants and seedlings. Pillbugs typically gain entry into buildings through door thresholds, particularly in residences featuring ground-level sliding glass doors. The presence of a pillbug within the home generally indicates a substantial outdoor population.

If you have a pillbug problem in your Memphis TN Metro Area property, contact your local exterminators.