Here are a couple of questions I received about sow bugs (aka “wood lice”, isopods, “basketball bugs”):
I found sow bugs in my bin. Lots of them. What to do?
~ Patty C.
If the population of wood louse in the worm bin is increasing, how do i control its numbers? Do i flood the bin regularly to maintain high levels of moisture in the bin?
~ Jasmine T.
Let me start by pointing out that sow bugs (which are actually crustaceans, not insects) are not “bad” by any stretch of the imagination. They are actually quite beneficial since they help to break down bulky and resistant materials, thus rendering them more microbe-friendly.
That being said, it’s important to note that they DO tend to prefer a somewhat drier habitat than the composting worms – so if you are seeing a population explosion it may indicate that the moisture content of your system is getting a little low.
Jasmine has the right idea – simply adding water more regularly should help. I am assuming when she says “flood the bin” she’s referring to a bin that has excellent drainage. The idea here is to greatly increase the moisture content of the system without any pooling (and subsequent stagnation) of liquid. Obviously, this approach wouldn’t be ideal for an enclosed plastic bin – but then again, it’s unlikely that this type of system would end up drying out too much in the first place.
Bottom-line, if you provide your worms with lots of moisture (while keeping everything well-oxygenated) and you still have a healthy population of sow bugs, you should welcome them! They absolutely won’t harm your worms, and (as I touched on a minute ago) they should really help to speed up the processing of waste materials in your system.