The Coffee Grounds Hack People Use To Deter Pill Bugs (& Does It Actually Work?)

If you're looking for a way to use used coffee grounds in your garden, you may have heard about how they might work as a method of natural pest control. This hack purportedly works by sprinkling coffee grounds around plants and other areas of your garden where pests might live. While possibly beneficial in some instances, there's not enough evidence to support the use of coffee grounds as a way to deter pill bugs. 

Often known by their nickname "roly-poly," pill bugs are common types of arthropods that don't pose any danger to humans. These bugs are also thought to be beneficial to the environment due to their preference for eating dead or decaying plant matter, per the University of Florida. However, some species are also known to be problems for certain types of plants, including cucumber, tomato, and lettuce. The latter is one reason why gardeners may consider natural ingredients for DIY pest control, including coffee grounds.

Why coffee grounds aren't guaranteed to work against pill bugs, and what you can do instead

Anecdotally, coffee grounds are said to help repel (not kill) certain pests due to their strong scent. Examples include ants, fleas, snails, slugs, and wasps. Scientific evidence supporting coffee grounds as a pest control method against pill bugs is lacking, and it's not clear whether these soil dwellers would dislike them for any reason. Furthermore, it's possible to harm certain plants that don't like coffee grounds, including asparagus, lilacs, and roses, among others that need more alkaline soil.

If your garden is being overtaken by pill bugs, you might consider more reliable methods of natural pest control instead. One example is using certain cooking staples against pill bugs, such as garlic. You can also deter pill bugs by cleaning up old leaves, grass clippings, and excess mulch from your yard and garden, as these are common feeding grounds for these arthropods. Also, consider removing old logs and unnecessary rocks, as pill bugs like to hide under them. Another consideration is to avoid over-watering your garden, as these bugs tend to thrive in damp, wet soil. By implementing these measures, you may start seeing fewer pill bugs over time without having to resort to chemical pest control.