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     Pill Bugs,   Page 2.


Be sure to view page 1: Sow Bugs

 

Pill Bugs

Sow bugs

FAQ's

 

Centipedes

Pill bug and Sow bug control

Pill Bug drawing

Millipedes

Anthropods; Crustaceans, Rolly Poleys, Wood Lice, Centipedes, millipedes and pill bugs are related to one another. They are all arthropods -- creatures which, among other things, have segmented bodies and jointed legs. The arthropod phylum is divided into several classes. Sometimes the centipedes and millipedes are lumped together in as "myriapods."

 
Pill bugs are actually closer related to lobsters and crabs than to centipedes and millipedes, and that centipedes and millipedes, despite looking so similar superficially, are actually not too closely related.

Description: somewhat flattened; resemble their  terrestrial cousins: seven pairs of legs; color varies, usually gray, but sometimes brown: length less than 1 inch.

Reproduction: eggs are carried under the female's abdomen until they hatch.

Food: characterized as scavengers, eating both dead and live plant and  animal debris.

Scientific Name:     Class: Crustacea       Order: Isopodalem.

Pill Bugs get their name from the habit of rolling into a ball when bothered, protecting their soft underside. Most crustaceans, such as lobsters and crabs, live in or near water, so pill bugs are unusual dry-land crustaceans. However, they still require moist habitats because their delicate gill-like breathing organs must be kept moist. Pill bugs are found under logs, stones, and in damp basements, and they feed mostly on decaying vegetation, so obviously they are not going to bite you. Pill bugs are often called sow bugs, but specialists like to reserve the name sow bug for some species that look a little like pill bugs, but can't roll into balls. Both pill bugs and sow bugs are sometimes known as woodlice.

      Food
      Isopods are omnivores or scavengers feeding on dead or decaying plants or animals. Some may eat live plants
      but pill bugs and sow bugs are only able to chew very tender shoots..

      Habitat
      Isopods breathe with gills, so they are restricted to areas with high humidity, under rocks or logs, in leaf litter or in crevices. Some species are nocturnal.

      Predators
      Vertebrates and invertebrates.

      Interesting Behaviors
      Some species roll up into a ball when disturbed.
       The female produces about two dozen tiny white offspring which she carries around in a pouch on her underside, until they can fend for themselves. Although a male is usually involved they can reproduce by parthenogenesis as well. There can be two or three broods per year and their lifespan is about two years.  Juveniles look like adults and are soon liberated from pouch. The immature isopod molts four or five times. They look like adults except for size, proportion, color and sexual development. Molting is in two stages. First the back half molts, then two to three days later, the front half molts. Coloration of both halves may be different at this time. Many species are fast walkers, but can be easily observed when held in the palm of the hand.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pill and Sow Bug Control

In the spring and summer, these creatures sometimes migrate by the thousands, marching toward and into your house. No one knows for sure what causes these migrations. The best guess is that it's a combination of temperature and humidity. Millipedes and their kin like secluded damp areas where they can feed on decaying plant material. But too much or too little moisture in their environment can make them leave these areas in huge numbers.

When the rain falls, they emerge from the compost you've lovingly spread around your garden. For the most part, pill bugs are harmless and can even beneficial. They break down organic matter into smaller bits. The problems start when they start munching on seedings or a red ripe strawberry. Protect seedlings with a little diatomaceous earth or a bit of drinking straw split and wrapped around the stems.

Natural predators include frogs, newts, toads and small mammals which live and hunt at night in the moist areas where the Pill Bugs live. Sometimes as they moult, when they are still soft, they can be eaten by their own kind. Another main enemy is a spider which dispatches them with venom before devouring the contents of their body.

Removing plant debris to discourage them is all that is required in most gardens. But the valuable contribution they make to the decomposition process in vegetable matter means that unless they are a direct threat to seedlings or crops, they should be left well alone. In the commercial setting they can be controlled by soil sterilization with steam or methyl bromide .

You can also effectively trap pill bugs using a half of a cantaloupe that's placed upside down where pill bugs are a problem.

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