Roly Polies Everywhere!
June 8, 2011 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Weird bug filter: When we first moved into our house a few summers ago we found hundreds, if not thousands, of dead pill bugs (or roly polies, as we called them when I was little) around all the base boards. When we went away on vacation for a few weeks in the fall of the next year it happened again. We have occasionally found a few around the base boards, but never like those other times. Does anyone know why this happened? Also, does the fact that hundreds of bugs entered the house seemingly through cracks indicate some sort of issue with the foundation?
posted by odayoday to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
hrmmm. Pillbugs are actually called wood lice; they like damp spaces. Is your house particularly damp when it gets shut up?

Also - are you sure they are all dead bugs? Wood lice need to shed their outer skins frequently; the discarded skins can certainly look very much like whole bugs.
posted by peachfuzz at 12:17 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

We had a house where they came in under a back door. In droves. Do you have rotting cardboard, wood or other others stuff outdoors? They'll come in and gravitate to the wooden baseboards.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:25 PM on June 8, 2011

Spiders and house centipedes prey on woodlice/slaters. We sometimes get piles of "empties" too.
posted by scruss at 12:26 PM on June 8, 2011

I don't think the house is particularly damp when we're gone, but it is obviously much quieter, if that makes a difference. Also, we've had droughts for quite a while, so they might be heading for cooler areas with more humidity in the closed house. Also, they very well could have been exoskeletons rather than bugs themselves, but if so, where did the bugs go?
posted by odayoday at 2:24 PM on June 8, 2011

When I moved into my first house, there was a layer of dead woodlice on the floor of the small, unheated porch. Furthermore, the carpets crunched slightly around the edges of the rooms. After I took them up (to deal with a persistent and horrible cat flea infestation - clearly, I answered wrong when the estate agent said "I assume you'll want to keep the carpets") I found a vast number of dead woodlice, all around the edges.

Obviously, I vacuumed them all up. Subsequently, woodlice kept turning up in the porch no matter what I did to seal it, but I saw only a couple in the house itself, even after leaving it vacant for over a year (my employer sent me overseas with not much warning and no fixed end date, making it impractical to let the house out).

I think what I did right to keep them out of the house was to keep the porch door closed and the heating on (even while I was gone: it was on low, but still significantly warmer than outside in the colder months). The porch was cold and damp, and perfect for woodlice; the rest of the house was warm and dry and unattractive. So I second peachfuzz: your house's climate was more attractive to them while you were away.

tl;dr: my guess is that the house was cooler than usual, and/or the relative humidity was higher, when you left it empty. As for how they're getting in, look for gaps around and under your external doors.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 8:37 AM on June 9, 2011

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