Pill bugs, also known as a roly-poly, are crustaceans with oval bodies. They have a hard shell that is partitioned into small segments. Pill bugs have seven pairs of legs and two pairs of antennae. Only one pair of the antenna is visible.
They have a broad head and they can be light or dark gray in colour. The main body segments of pill bugs have limbs. Their main diet includes decaying plant, fungi, and animals.
This means that pill bugs play an important role in maintaining ecosystem balance as they expedite the decaying process of organic matter. Pillbugs feed on fresh plants as well.
They’re nocturnal and hide during daytime. These are active at night because it’s the time when they look for food. These bugs also display a rolling habit called conglobation.
If you see them rolled into a ball, it’s most likely because they feel threatened and they are protecting their inside bodies. Conglobation also helps them prevent water loss.
They can’t survive at hot temperatures. This is why they’re active at night when the temperatures are low.
Life Cycle and Reproduction
Pillbugs are capable of mating anytime and they don’t keep one partner for the entire breeding season. The reproduction process of these bugs usually takes place during spring. They usually reproduce 3 times within a year.
Females can mate with different pill bugs. They don’t lay eggs at once. These females keep their eggs inside their brood pouch called marsupium for 2 to 3 months.
Eggs hatch inside the pouch and the females keep them inside for 3 to 4 days. Ones the newly hatched crustaceans emerge from the pouch, they go through a few moults and are then considered independent. They somehow stay close to their mother even after leaving.
Some create a separate tunnel from their mothers. Others make a tunnel near the one made by their mother. Baby pill bugs that stay inside the mother’s tunnel receive protection from their mother until they’re a little more developed.
Where Can You Find Them?
These crustaceans are usually found in forests, gardens, fields and other urban or rural areas. They need moderate temperature and moisture to survive.
As such, pill bugs prefer areas that have enough humidity, moderate temperature, and a small amount of light. They can be found under rocks, soil, or logs.
Pill Bug Infestation
These are not poisonous or dangerous. The problem starts when their population becomes too large. They can damage your landscape and garden as they also eat young plants. However, it seldom happens and only in areas with enough moisture, decaying plants and mulch.
How to Eliminate These Crustaceans
• Minimize Moisture
The best way to get rid of this creepy crawlies and other insects is to reduce humidity and moisture in your home. Since moisture is the most important part of their survival, reducing the level of humidity can help control them.
• Seal Entry Points
These bugs can enter your home through cracked or broken doors and walls, so you should seal all possible entry points.
• Remove Debris
Get rid of their food sources. If they can’t find food in your home, they will leave. Prevent them from entering your property by removing debris such as leaf litter and piles of wood.
• Glue Traps or Vacuum
You can use glue traps or a vacuum to catch those that have already entered your home. Discard them far from your home.
• Fix Leaking Water Pipes and Faucets
Leaking water pipes and faucets allow pill bugs and other kinds of insects to enter your home. If you want to eliminate and control these pests, you should fix broken faucets and water pipes.
Pill Bugs vs Sow Bugs
These terrestrial crustaceans can roll into a ball when they feel threatened. It’s also known as chucky pig, armadillo bug, carpenter, boat builder, cafner, granddad, doodlebug, slater, cheesy bug, gramersow, and cheeselog. They have a round back and grow to approximately 3/8" long.
Pill bugs belong in the order Isopoda or oftentimes called as terrestrial isopod. Scientifically, they are known as Armadillidium vulgare.
Sow bugs are likely related to shrimps and crabs crustaceans. They are usually mistaken as other insects, millipedes, or centipedes due to their oval body shape. Centipedes have 30 to over 200 legs.
Sow bugs, on the other hand, only have 14 legs and 2 antennae. They have gills and are considered helpful because they serve as a garbage collector in their world. Sow bugs usually feed on dead plants, but they may also consume dead animals once in a while.
The body structure of sow bugs is designed to protect their soft inside, just like how the body structure of most crustaceans works. Sow bugs have two pairs of structure that look like a tail at the back end of their body.
The major difference between pill bugs and sow bugs is that the latter can’t roll into a ball. Sow bugs also have a less hemispherical look than pill bugs.
Both sow bugs and pill bugs have an exoskeleton that looks like a shell. Their exoskeleton sheds as they grow. They lose the back half part first and the front falls off 2 to 3 days later.