You may think they’re insects, but no: woodlice are actually cousins to shrimp and lobsters. That’s right, they’re crustaceans—and they’re sometimes a bit too keen on living the good life in our homes and gardens.

If you happen to have such a population explosion on your property, the information and tips provided below will help you control it.

What are they?

A woodlouse (there are two main kinds, pillbugs and sowbugs) is grey or black, measures between 12 and 15 mm in length and has a shell that resembles armour plating.

These tiny creatures aren’t dangerous. They don’t sting, bite or transmit any disease, and they don’t cause material damage. Another plus: they aren’t attracted to our food.

These miniature crustaceans are also a favourite food of many animals—and, in some parts of the world, of humans as well. In fact, they say grilled woodlice taste just like… shrimp!

So why get rid of them? Simply because coming across a large number of them somewhere in your home is fairly unpleasant. Not only that, but if you do find a lot of them inside the house, it’s a sign of a humidity problem: woodlice actively seek out damp areas. They also tend to congregate in dark, sheltered locations, and are mostly active at night.

Out of my house, louse!

While woodlice aren’t a threat, that doesn’t mean you want to breed them in and around your home! Follow this advice to keep them at bay:

  • Make sure the ground slopes away from the house to keep water from pooling next to the foundation.
  • Let the soil dry out before rewatering your lawn.
  • Clear away dead leaves and objects around the exterior walls.
  • Prune hedges and other plants near the exterior walls to maintain good air circulation.
  • If you bring firewood into the house, carefully check the bark to make sure you aren’t bringing woodlice inside.
  • Seal any cracks in the foundation walls where woodlice could get in.

To get rid of woodlice that have already taken up residence, here is what you need to know:

  • Since long-term presence of woodlice in a building can be a sign of excess humidity or a source of food (e.g., rotting wood), you must first locate the origin of the problem and correct it. Then, if necessary, improve your basement heating and ventilation.
  • Woodlice will usually die quickly indoors because there isn’t enough moisture for them to survive. In the summer, when humidity levels rise, your best weapon is a dehumidifier with a built-in electronic hygrometer/humidistat. Set the dehumidifier to keep the relative humidity below 60%. Move the unit around if need be.
  • Otherwise, you can spread diatomaceous earth along the baseboards: this natural insecticide will not only help get rid of woodlice, but most other crawling insects as well.

Now that you’ve regained control of your living space, you can enjoy it in peace!