Actual Size: ¼ to ½”

Characteristics: Oval; slate gray or black in color.

Legs: 14

Antennae: 2 pairs

Wings: No

Habitat: Requires moisture to survive and usually lives in the soil beneath rocks, flowerpots, and other objects.


  • Can roll up into a tight ball when threatened or scared.
  • Requires moisture to survive and does not typically survive long indoors.
  • Commonly mistaken for sowbugs, which cannot roll into a ball.

Pillbugs in North Jersey

Pillbugs, being among the few crustaceans uniquely adapted to terrestrial life, are widespread across the North Jersey area. These creatures look similar to sowbugs and have closer kinship with shrimp or crayfish than they do other insects. Often referred to as roly-polies, pillbugs possess the remarkable ability to roll themselves into a compact ball when they encounter disturbances or threats. One distinctive feature that sets them apart is their back, which consists of seven rigid individual plates.

Pillbug Habitat

Due to their reliance on moisture, pillbugs cannot sustain themselves indoors for extended periods unless the environment provides high levels of humidity or dampness. Recognizing their need for specific conditions, their survival within indoor spaces typically spans only a few days. They typically remain in basements or crawlspaces should they invade your home or building. If you encounter pillbugs indoors it usually indicates the presence of exceptionally moist or damp surroundings that attract these resilient creatures.

Pillbug Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Pillbugs are not known to bite, sting, spread diseases, or cause property damage. For that reason, they are primarily considered a nuisance pest – especially when they wind up indoors. The main problem with pillbugs is that, in large groups, they can cause damage to garden plants and seedlings by feeding on leaves and roots. Though pillbugs mainly enter buildings accidentally and typically stay in damp crawl spaces or basements, finding any indoors could mean you’ve got an infestation in your yard.

If you have a pillbug problem in your North Jersey property, contact your local pest control technicians. At Eastern Pest Services, we take pride in delivering fast and effective solutions that will keep your property bug-free for good!