What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Help! I have just found your website which I hope will be my saviour. I have a wee problem here in my flat in Edinburgh. This "problem" is a brown creepy crawly thing which seems to like catfood. Whenever I put the catfood back down on the floor for the cats these things seem to put in an appearance. They seem to be more nocturnal, appearing after dark, so that I find them only when I go into the kitchen at night – and there they are hoovering up the cat food that the messy little eaters have spilt on the floor (cats have no table manners!). There are loads of them and despite me cleaning the floor with bleach several times a week, they reappear with annoying regularity.
They are brown on top and whitish underneathand appear to be ridged making them look a bit maggoty. They have legs and can be various sizes – up to 2cm long. What are these things and more importantly how do I get rid of them. They must be "nesting" under the floorboards as there is nowhere else they can be coming from. I have tried moving the cats food to other parts of the kitchen but they always seem to find it. URGH!!! I am at my wits end and would like to get rid of these things before the poor cats go mad trying to work out where I have decided to put their food this time. I don’t think they enjoy this game very much! Your help and advice on how to eradicate these pests from my home PERMANENTLY would be hugely appreciated.
—Lesley

Dear Lesley,
From the time mankind has lived in caves, we have been annoyed by household pests. In his usual charming manner, Hogue writes in his chapter on household pests: "Unwelcome guests within our homes, stealing our food and wrecking our possessions, and sometimes repaying us with bites and stings–these are the insect pests. … A need for shelter, food, or a nesting place, attraction to lights, or perhaps the enticement of shade and food odors–and not a conscious desire to bother us–bring these guests to our door. In spite of screening, entry is easy for most insects: their small size permits them to squeeze through small cracks in the flooring, around baseboards, and under doors and through other imperfections in construction."
With that said Lesley, no matter what you do, you will have household intruders. Regarding the identification of your brown creepy crawly thing, I suspect pill bugs or sow bugs. They are not true insects, but rather members of the order Isopoda and the subphylum Crustacea. Pill bugs are so called because of their habit of rolling into a little ball. Sow bugs are generally larger and cannot roll themselves up into a ball. Sow bug can grow as large as 15mm. They are nocturnal, omniverous and can be very numerous, sometimes experiencing population explosions. They are generally found outdoors in the garden, but they will take refuge inside the home, especially when it is dry. I would guess that you feed your cats near a water source, and a leaking pipe with the resulting rotting wood, could well be the reason the ispods have taken up quarters in your flat. Because of their distasteful secretions, these isopods are eaten by few predators. A notable exception is the sow bug killer, a dysderid spider, Dysdera crocota.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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