How to Kill Wood Lice

Updated July 19, 2017

Wood lice are known by many different names, such as pill bugs, potato bugs and roly-polys. They acquired their nicknames due to the shape of their bodies, which resemble pills, and because when they are threatened, they roll their bodies into a ball to protect their vital organs. Wood lice thrive in a highly moist area, making them a threat to your garden because they consume your plants as food, and can even infest damp areas of your house. Killing wood lice consists of taking a few preventive steps to protect your home, both inside and out.

Observe the area of infestation in your house. Carefully examine the room where the wood lice appear, and determine if there are more areas of infestation so you can gauge the extent of the problem. Pay close attention to the movement of the wood lice, to see if they are entering the house from a specific area.

Vacuum the visible wood lice that are in the open.

Spray the infested room with an aerosol insecticide spray. Spray directly on the wood lice, and search for any cracks or breaks in the foundations and walls. Spray these areas to kill wood lice that you cannot see and to prevent them from entering the room.

Limit the amount of water you use in your garden, if possible. If you reduce the moisture in the area, you will kill the population of woodlice and force any surviving lice to search for other moisture-rich spaces to inhabit.

Spread diatomaceous earth over the mulch in your garden. This creates a protective layer, which wood lice must dig through to reach the moist land. Burrowing through this layer wears down their protective covering, which reduces the amount of moisture they can maintain in their bodies and causes them to die.


As wood lice thrive in moisture, their presence in your house may indicate excessive dampness in your environment, which will lead to other problems such as mildew and wood rot. To protect against this problem, use bathroom fans, stove hood fans and make sure you attic is well ventilated.


Do not use diatomaceous earth meant for pool filters; make sure the brand you use is designed specifically for horticultural purposes to avoid damaging your garden.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Insecticide
  • Diatomaceous earth
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About the Author

A resident of Riverside, California, Timothy Peckinpaugh began writing in 2006 for U.S. History Publishers, based in Temecula, California. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Riverside, with a bachelor's degree in English.