What space pillbugs?Have you ever before turned over a absent or an old plank in your backyard and also discovered under a small, hard-shelled biology that each other a miniature armadillo? once you choose up the pest in her hand, walk it role up right into a near-perfect ball? such armored creatures are referred to as sow bugs, and also the sort that role up right into a ball, or pill shape, regularly are called pillbugs. Technically, sow bugs and also pillbugs are known as isopods, which way "the legs space alike." Isopods room not insects, yet crustaceans - land-dwelling relatives of crabs and also lobsters.

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What perform pillbugs look like? Pillbugs are wingless, oval or slightly elongated isopods about 1/2 inch long. They are colored a slate-gray, and their human body segments resemble armored plates. Pillbugs, or "roly-polys," have actually three human body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. They additionally have seven pairs the legs.

How perform pillbugs live?Pillbugs room slow-moving, crawling creatures, and also they are cold-blooded, which means their human body temperature is regulation by the bordering environment. In the Columbia Basin, you can find pillbugs in numerous places, but particularly in gardens, along residence foundations, and sometimes in basements. Although these creatures are common, you rarely see them during the day due to the fact that they favor dark, moist locations - under rocks, boards, bricks, trash, disc vegetation, or just beneath the soil surface. Mulches, grass clippings, and also leaf litter often administer the decaying organic issue these creatures need to survive. Just at night perform they emerge to hover around.

Pillbugs have the right to breed transparent the year. The woman carries the egg in a brood bag on the underside of her body. Often, there space as numerous as 200 eggs per brood. The egg hatch in 3 to 7 weeks, and the young stay in the pouch another 6 come 7 weeks. Once the young leave the pouch, they never return. Some types produce only one brood per year, however others may develop two or more.

Isopods, favor insects and also their relatives, must shed their hard outer skin or exoskeleton to grow. They perform this a dozen or an ext times during their lives. Pillbugs typically hide when they burned their skin because they are specifically vulnerable to adversaries at this time. The average life expectancy of most isopods is around 2 years, but some have actually lived as long as 5 years.


"Science is built of facts as a home is the stones. Yet a collection of truth is no more a science than a heap that stones is a house." Henri Poincare

Keep in psychic this reality sheet is intended to be provided only as background info to assistance your effort to encourage inquiry-based science, i beg your pardon parallels the way scientists i found it knowledge and also solve problems.


1. Equipped with a flashlight and also jar, you can conveniently find and also collect pillbugs in the backyard. You likewise can trap them utilizing a totality potato together bait. Here"s how: To make the potato trap, bore a 3/4-inch hole v the potato lengthwise, then close up one end of the hole through a tiny piece that the potato plug. Ar the "trap" in the garden or any kind of other location where sow bugs and pillbugs room abundant. Sheathe the trap through leaves, and leave that alone a couple of days. The pillbugs will come and also feed within the hole in the potato. To eliminate them, location the opening over a jar, and also strike the potato to dislodge them. The potato catch is especially useful for collecting tiny or young isopods and rare species, too.

2. Test pillbug responses come moisture.Here"s how: take it a batch of tool to big pillbugs (8-10 specimens) and also place castle in a petri food or seasoned on dry filter paper. Store the container in dim light, and observe the reaction that the bugs for 2-3 minutes. How do the pillbugs react? document your observations. Now put the exact same pillbugs in a container with simply a little piece of damp paper. What carry out you observe? Why perform you think pillbugs reacted the way they did? Think around where you find pillbugs - in damp or dry areas? did you know that pillbugs have actually gills and also they carry out not retain water well? within a minute or two you should have seen lock clump together when they were inserted on the dried paper, indicating a need to alleviate water loss from their bodies. Many pillbugs plot "normally" when the relative humidity is middle high (50-70%), the irradiate is dim, and the temperature is close come indoor conditions or slightly lower.

3. Test pillbug responses come temperature. Here"s how: Place 4 to 6 pillbugs in a small jar v a cover, and float the jar on water in a pan. Add ice cubes and a thermometer, and stir gently so as not to pointer the jar. Observe the reaction of the pillbugs. Now remove the ice cubes, and also gently warmth the water. After ~ 1 minute, keep in mind the temperature on the thermometer and write down the reaction the the pillbugs. Proceed to record the temperature and also your observations. When the temperature it s okay close to 40°C eliminate the pillbugs or they will enter heat stupor, which might kill them. Go you know that pillbugs sluggish down their movements and may also stop moving as the temperature viewpoints 0°C? Pillbugs will speed up their motions as the temperature rises and also they become frantic by the time the temperature reaches 40°C.

(Experiments by Louis F. Wilson, Michigan Entomological Society, department of Entomology, Michigan State, University, eastern Lansing, Michigan 48823.)


The Pillbug Project, grades 3-7, national Science teachers Association, 3140 N. Washington Blvd., Arlington, Virginia.Project Wild, grades 1-12, P.O. Crate 18060, Boulder, Colorado.

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Rolypolyology (Backyard Buddies), Michael Elshohn Ross, 1995. Carolrhoda Books, Minneapolis, Minnesota.



Initial advancement and print of this reality sheet to be funded by an Eisenhower provide to the Partnership because that Arid floor Stewardship. Created by: Randy Reed; collection Editor: Georganne O"Connor; Design: WinSome Design; Printing: Eagle Printing and also Graphic Design; very first Printing: December 1997; internet Development: WinSome Design.