Roly pollies, cheesy bugs, monkey peas, pill bugs and sink-lice are all common names for woodlice. Woodlice are arthropods, specifically crustaceans and so are more closely related to prawns and crabs than other common land-living arthropods such as spiders and insects. Britain has about 35 species of woodlouse, 1 per cent of the world's total.
The more common species of woodlouse can survive in many habitats. However, they require an environment that is damp but not wet. Too little or too much moisture can kill a woodlouse. Young woodlice are particularly vulnerable to drying out. Some species, such as Philoscia muscorum live in the same habitat year-round, however others such as Trichoniscus pusillus move from leaf litter in the summer to rotting wood in the winter.
During colder weather, due to the natural movement of woodlice between habitats, householders may often see woodlice in their homes. Porcellio scaber latreille, the garden woodlouse, is the most common species to see indoors in the UK. The woodlice will normally be in damp undisturbed areas such as underneath baths and behind piping. While they may cause some damage to house plants by chewing on leaves they are normally harmless.
Woodlouse Life Cycle
Most of the species of woodlouse in the UK breed only once a year. It may take a full year for a woodlouse to reach its full growth but they can begin breeding when they are about half of their final size. A single woodlouse will produce around 150 eggs. The eggs will hatch in three to nine weeks, depending on the species and the mother will carry the newly-hatched woodlice in a special brood-pouch for between three and nine days.
Woodlice do not breed inside buildings. Homeowners should clean the area where they have noticed woodlice and remove the woodlice from their homes. They should block up any areas where the woodlice can enter the house from outside and remove potential habitats such as rubbish and vegetation from beside the building. If there are damp areas inside the house they cannot dry, homeowners can apply commercially available insecticidal barrier sprays or dusts around the area.