The pill bug is perhaps one of the most amazing creatures in the world. Over the years, it has been given many names including roly poly, the armadillo bug, the potato bug or even the wood louse. Whatever you may wish to call the little creatures, fact remains, the organisms are truly worth learning about. Of all the fascinating pill bug facts known to man, a few are listed and discussed in this article so if you are interesting in learning about them, here is your chance to do just that.
The most important pill bug facts
1. Of all the amazing pill bug facts, this is perhaps the most important one. They are not insects. They are crustaceans closely related to living things such as shrimps or even crabs. The only thing they have in common with insects is the fact that they are all part of a larger family known as arthropods. For the benefit of those who don’t know the meaning of arthropods, quite simply, arthropods are animals with exoskeletons and appendages.
2. Pill bugs are crustaceans known as isopods for the simple reason that the creatures are capable of living in marine habitats as well as on land. In total, the world harbours 4000 species of identified isopods. Of all isopods, they are perhaps the few organisms capable of living essentially on land.
3. When disturbed pill bugs roll up for protection and they can become incredibly hard. This is perhaps one of the pill bug facts which incited or rather gave rise to the other names of the crustaceans such as sow bugs, wood lice or even roly-pollies. Roller is the term used to describe a pill bug’s reaction when it rolls up in a ball-like structure.
4. It is also generally acknowledged that they possess gills and they use these structures to breathe. This is perhaps the most important of all the biological pill bug facts known to scientist because this amazing truth explains why they only thrive in moist places. They need humid habitats to be able to breathe.
5. These insects are small crustaceans and many grow to be no more than 5-15mm long. Its body is divided into 3 sections, its head, its thorax and its abdomen. The exoskeleton, on the other hand, consists of shield-like plates. Equipped with seven pairs of legs, pill bugs ate perhaps among the most unique creatures to have ever lived.
6. Young ones hatch from eggs that are essentially carried by the female pill bugs under their thorax. In general, young pill bugs are born self-sufficient and they do not need their mothers brooding over them all the time once they hatch.
7. According to pill bug facts, the crustaceans are safe to handle. They do not bite and they definitely don’t sting. The creatures don’t transmit diseases to humans. They do not harm other plants or animals. These creatures serve no economic purpose whatsoever but they are known to play an important role in the decomposition of dead plant materials.
Pill bugs are known by a number of alternative names – rollie pollie bug, armadillo bug or even the potato bug. Pill bugs are perhaps one of the most fascinating creatures we have. They might trouble you, bugging your potted plants forcing you to take action in terms of pill bugs control. Once they get in your home, it could get a little frustrating. You must learn how to get rid of pill bugs in the house. But all in all, they are also amazing in the way they survive. You should know all about these little crustaceans by the end of this article.
1. Pill bugs are crustaceans, not insects
As a matter of fact, pill bugs are crustaceans as opposed to what many people tend to think. They have nothing in common with insects though I have to admit, the two do look quite the same. In reality, pill bugs belong to the Crustacea family and they are closely related to shrimps and the crayfish.
2. Pill bugs breathe through their gills
That’s right. Pill bugs are equipped with gills and they use these structures to breathe. As such, it is hardly surprising that pill bugs need moist environments to breathe, the reason why around your home, you will only ever find the bugs around your potted plants or in your kitchen sink. You will never find pill bug nestled in your carpet unless it’s dead.
3. It is generally acknowledged that a juvenile pill bug molts in 2 sections
Pretty much like arthropods, pill bugs grow by molting a hard exoskeleton though when the time comes to shed their cuticle, they don’t drop it all off at once. First, the pill bug will lose the back half of its exoskeleton. After a few days, it will prepare to shed the other half though it is pretty elusive why the pill bugs behave in this way.
4. Pill bug mothers carry their eggs in a pouch
Like the other crustaceans we know of, pill bugs tote their eggs around with them. Overlapping thoracic plates form a special pouch, called a marsupium on the pill bug’s underside. Upon hatching, the tiny juvenile pill bugs remain in the pouch for several days before leaving to explore the world on their own.
5. Pill bugs do not urinate
Most animals show the need to remove the waste substances they produce within their bodies in the form of urine. This is not the case with pill bugs. They show an amazing ability to tolerate ammonia gas, which they pass on directly through their exoskeleton.
6. A pill bug drinks through its anus
Gross but true. Though pill bugs do drink using their mouth parts, the bugs are also known to take water in through their rear ends. Special tube-shaped structures called uropods can wick water up when needed.
7. Pill bugs curl into airtight balls when threatened
Threaten a pill bug and you will see it recoil into a rock hard structure. This is perhaps why many people refer to these bugs as roly polies. The ability of a pill bug to curl is what differentiates the little creature from its close relatives.
8. Pill bugs eat their own feces
As a matter of fact, pill bugs are known to feed on their own excretions. This is because each time a pill bug poops, it loses some of its copper and copper is absolutely essential for the pill bug to live. So this is what the little bug does. It eats its own poop. Gross but incredibly practical.