Organic Control for Pillbugs

Gardening Question from Judi:

I recently attended a talk by you on soil, and I have a question. We prepared our beautiful raised beds and planted our zucchini, cucumbers, lettuce, etc. before the rain came. Discovered dozens of pill bugs that have eaten mainly the zucchini and cucumbers. We read on the internet that one solution is putting shallow glass containers or empty tuna cans under the ground up to the dirt level and fill with beer and the bugs will come and die. Have you heard about this method. Interesting–we never used mulch in the beds before and had wonderful crops.

My husband built great critter cages over the beds so we are safe from birds and animals.

Hope you are well and enjoying whatever rain we are getting.

Answer from Pat:

The beer trick works for slugs and snails, so far as I know it does not work for pillbugs. I suggest a bag or two of earthworm castings spread evenly all over the soil or mulch. If possible, push the mulch aside, spread the earthworm castings underneath the mulch and replace the mulch on top. Your pill bugs will soon be gone and ants too if you have them. Water as usual. Earthworm castings are not a fertilizer but they work well as an organic pest control as I explained during the question and answer section of my recent talk. They kill insects because they contain chitinase, an enzyme that destroys chitin, out of which the exoskeletons of insects are made. They also get rid of ants.

It is not customary to use mulch in raised beds, simply fill raised beds with top soil and amend and fertilize as I described. No mulch needed. That is for gardening in the ground.


Photo by Arenamontanus

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