Pill Bug Life Cycle

Pill bugs are known for their various names like sow bugs or woodlice. However, regardless of the name, they all refer to these crustaceans that are closely related to lobsters. Though there are over 5,000 species of these creatures, they all go through similar life cycles.

A Pill Bug’s Lifecycle

The life stages of a roly-poly have four stages. These stages include the egg, manca, juvenile, and adult. The manca stage includes two sub-stages while juvenile stage includes several sub-stages. Below is a summary of what happens in every stage:


Unlike other pests with eggs that you can potentially see hidden in cracks and crevices, as the eggs of pill bugs are these are usually in the mother pouch of females. This means that the mother carries the eggs that can be around two to two hundred.

Once the eggs are fertilized, females carry the eggs on the brood pouch found on their bellies. Females do this for weeks until they all hatch.

Eggs hatch in a span of two to seven weeks. They then enter the next life stage which is the manca.


They will look more like young pill bugs, but these are smaller and are still carried inside the pouch of mother. In this stage, the crustaceans are normally paler in colour and have fewer numbers of legs.

This is the stage where they go through two sub-stages. They will undergo moulting and enter the manca stage. The second stage is the independent mancae before they enter the juvenile stage of life.


During this stage, you will notice that the pests look more like the small versions of adults. Similar to most arthropods, this is the stage when their body parts until they grow fully.

In this stage, they moult periodically and turn into a darker colour. It usually takes about a year or more for them to reach the adult stage.


It will take around a year or more for adults to completely develop. This is the time when they will develop their complete pairs of legs and grow into ½ inch long. Once they fully develop, their lifespan will then depend on the environmental conditions where they live.

Both adults and juveniles eat almost the same things. You will often find them near decaying plant materials, leaf litter, and piles of leaves, rocks, and rotten wood.

Though you might find them near vegetation or wooden parts, they don’t consume them and are actually incapable of eating solid wood. Their presence is an indication that there is a moisture issue on the area.

These crustaceans are able to live longer and survive in any part of your home as long as there are moist areas. When there is water loss, these pests will usually group together to retain the moisture left in the ground.

Though they are considered as terrestrial crustaceans, they still need damp habitats. This is the main reason why they choose to live near plants or vegetation.

How to Control their Presence

Since they usually roll into a ball when threatened, it may seem like they aren’t a nuisance in your property. However, it’s a different situation if you start seeing them inside your home.

They might scare your children or end up hiding in different parts of your home. Try to use various pest control products to get rid of them. If the infestation is beyond control, calling an expert exterminator can be your last resort.