Slaters, also known as Sowbugs, Wood Lice and Pillbugs are in fact, not insects, but crustaceans, more closely related to prawns crabs and lobsters .
They are one of only two species of crustaceans that have adapted to living solely on land, although they still need to live in a fairly moist exterior environment
Although they will, from time to time enter buildings, their presence is purely nuisance value, as they do not bite, sting, or known to transmit diseases, nor do they infest food, clothing or wood.
Slaters range in size from 6mm to 12mm long and are usually dark to slate grey. They have oval, multi-segmented bodies, are convex above but flat or concave underneath. They possess seven pairs of legs and two pairs of antennae although only one pair of antennae is readily visible. Slaters have two tail-like appendages which project out from the rear end of the body.
These little creatures are scavengers that feed on rotting vegetation and animal matter. Although they occasionally feed on young plants, the damage is seldom more than very minor. They thrive in areas of high moisture, largely remaining hidden during the day. They can usually be found under logs, rocks and rotting vegetation and under flower pots.
Slaters will leave their natural habitats at night, crawling around on paths, patios, and foundations. They are often found invading sub floor areas, damp basements and first floors of houses at ground level. Common points of entry into buildings include door thresholds (especially at the base of sliding glass doors), expansion joints, and through the voids of concrete block walls.
Frequent sightings of these creatures indoors usually means that there are large numbers breeding on the outside, close to the foundation. As Slaters do require moisture, they can not survive indoors for more than a few days unless there are very moist or damp conditions.
Do It yourself Pest Control
- 1. The most effective, long-term measure for reducing indoor entry of these pests is to minimize moisture and hiding places near foundation walls. Most importantly, leaves, grass clippings, heavy accumulations of mulch, stones, fallen fruit, boxes, and similar items laying on the ground beside the foundation should be removed, since these often attract and harbour Slaters.
- 2. Donâ€™t allow water to accumulate near foundation walls or in the sub floor area . Water should be diverted away from the foundation wall with properly functioning gutters, down spouts and splash blocks. Leaking faucets, water pipes and dripping air conditioning units should be repaired, and lawn sprinklers should be adjusted to minimize puddling near the foundation. Poor drainage should be addressed, or the ground sloped to so that surface water drains away from the building.
- 3. Seal cracks and openings in the outside foundation wall, and around the bottoms of doors and basement windows. Install tight-fitting door sweeps or thresholds at the base of all exterior entry doors, and apply caulk along the bottom outside edge and sides of door thresholds. Seal expansion joints where outdoor patios, sunrooms and sidewalks abut the foundation. Expansion joints and gaps should also be sealed along the bottom of basement walls on the interior, to reduce entry of pests and moisture from outdoors.
- 4. Chemical control is an option, however, as Slaters are really beneficial, it is probably wiser to prevent them from coming indoors with exclusion remedies.