Q & A

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E. Vinje

Hi Dee –

A vast array of insects, arthropods, beetles, snails, slugs and worms inhabit cool compost piles. Most of these creatures cannot tolerate the high temperatures of a hot pile. As the pile heats up, they retreat to its edges or downwards into the soil beneath. As it cools, they move back in and start performing their functions.

Pill bugs — also called roly polies — feed primarily on decaying plant matter and are important in the decomposition process. They prefer dark, damp locations and are common in most compost piles/ bins where they can break down organic materials very quickly. Roly polies help speed the compost process along and are often encouraged for this purpose.

Note: These tiny crustaceans do not bite or sting and rarely damage living plants, providing there is enough decaying material for them to eat. However, if present in large numbers they may also feed on seedlings, new roots, lower leaves and fruits or vegetables laying directly on the soil. Learn how to control roly-poly bugs using proven, organic techniques here.

Hope it helps!