I lifted some carrots this evening. It being December these are carrots which have been in the ground some time. They're big and fat, they need cleaning up and the damage needs cutting out, but basically most of them is OK to eat.

As I clean them up I see that there are holes and tunnels, the usual with root veg which has been a bit neglected. OK, slugs, I'm thinking. That's fairly normal.

But as I work on them a bit more I find woodlice in the holes. Are woodlice a root vegetable pest, will they eat carrots, and have they made those holes? If so, is there any way to control them and keep them out of my veg?

Or are they just sheltering in holes made by other creatures?

  • I have exactly the same problem, It seems to me that they are happy to eat live vegatables such as carrots and potatoes, I have also noticed a lot of small black bits in the holes that look like grit, not sure what this is?
    – user1736
    Nov 17 '12 at 12:59
  • 1
    The mouthparts on woodlice are not equipped for biting into fruits and veg. Woodlice are often seen eating on strawberries, but they only way they can do this is if something else has penetrated the fruit first - once the soft inside is exposed, they can manage to eat that. Any woodlice on carrots are, as Kevinsky suggests, just sheltering in holes made by something else - even the inside of a carrot is impossible for them to eat.
    – Bamboo
    Nov 17 '12 at 16:56
  • I have had an issue too with woodlice eating fruit. At home I am growing giant tomatoes and as I am picking them I find woodlice in them with quite large burrows and holes. Is there any way that this can be prevented without harming the woodlice?
    – Gardenee
    Aug 23 '18 at 21:18

These little guys normally feed on decomposing plant material. They like to shelter on or under a surface. I would not normally associate them with eating something hard like a carrot. It is far more likely that another insect did the damage and they were just looking for shelter.


Woodlice eat dead vegetable matter, but they normally do not attack live plants. They are probably just in the holes because they offer protection from the weather. If the holes are large and appear at the top of the root, the culprit is probably slugs. If the burrows are smaller and run along the root near the skin, you probably have had carrot rust fly maggots sometime during the growing season. Applying pesticides will keep these away, but, when grown in a good, active, organic soil and given enough water, the plants will take care of themselves.


As has been suggested, woodlice don't damage live vegetables. They will nicely clean up any rotting parts of a vegetable or fruit that is still growing, which prevents decay spreading. A lot of fruit and vegies are still usable with imperfections and chewed off bits, as long as any decay is removed. I have no problem eating a strawberry that had an injury cleaned up by woodlice. I have very few woodlice now that i stopped adding bark based commercial bagged composts and such but, that's another story.

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