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Pillbugs :



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Armadillidiidae is a family of woodlice, a terrestrial crustacean group in the order Isopoda. Unlike members of other woodlouse families, members of this family can roll into a ball, an ability they share with the outwardly similar but unrelated pill millipedes and other animals. It is this ability which gives woodlice in this family their common names of pill bugs,[1] roly polies, or doodle bugs.[2] The best known species in the family is Armadillidium vulgare, the common pill bug.

1-Use a plastic tub or aquarium for housing. As pillbugs require a damp environment to thrive, you should pick a container that's resistant to water. Go with something made of plastic or glass rather than cardboard.


  • You can purchase an aquarium at a pet store if you have a lot of pillbugs.[1]

  • If you don't want to spend the money on an aquarium, you can use a plastic tupperware container from your kitchen to house your pillbugs.[2]

Armadillidium vulgare walking

Scientific classification:


Kingdom  :  Animalia

Phylum  :  Arthropoda

Subphylum  :  Crustacea

Class  :   Malacostraca

Order  :  Isopoda

Suborder  :   Oniscidea

Family  :   Armadillidiidae
Brandt, 1833

Ecology and behaviour  :


Roly poly bugs in the family Armadillidiidae are able to form their bodies into a ball shape, in a process known as conglobation. This behaviour is shared with pill millipedes (which are often confused with pill bugs[3]), armadillos and cuckoo wasps.[4] It may be triggered by stimuli such as vibrations or pressure, and is a key defense against predation; it may also reduce respiratory water losses.[5]


Classification  :


The family Armadillidiidae is differentiated from other woodlouse families by the two-segmented nature of the antennal flagellum, by the form of the uropods, and by the ability to roll into a ball, or conglobate.[6]

Within the family Armadillididae, fifteen genera are currently recognized:[7]

  • Alloschizidium

  • Armadillidium

  • Ballodillium

  • Cristarmadillidium

  • Cyphodillidium

  • Echinarmadillidium

  • Eleoniscus

  • Eluma

  • Paraschizidium

  • Paxodillidium

  • Platanosphaera

  • Schizidium

  • Trichodillidium

  • Troglarmadillidium

  • Typhlarmadillidium

To Know more and to read the refernces and external links .. click to read the wikipedia original article .. 

Rollie Pollie The Pill Bugs Short Educational Video

10 Fascinating Facts About Pillbugs :


courtesy to : by Debbie Hadley

A pillbug goes by many names -– roly poly, wood louse, armadillo bug, potato bug – but whatever you call it, it's a fascinating creature. These ten facts about pillbugs will give you a new respect for the tiny tank living beneath your flower pots.


1. Pillbugs are crustaceans, not insects.


Though they're often associated with insects and are referred to as "bugs," pillbugs actually belong to the subphylum Crustacea. They're much more closely related to shrimp and crayfish than to any kind of insect.


2. Pillbugs breathe through gills.


Like their marine cousins, terrestrial pillbugs use gill-like structures to exchange gases. They require moist environments to breathe, but cannot survive being submerged in water.


3. A juvenile pillbug molts in two sections.


Like all arthropods, pillbugs grow by molting a hard exoskeleton. But pillbugs don't shed their cuticle all at once. First, the back half of its exoskeleton splits away and slides off. A few days later, the pillbug sheds the front section.


If you find a pillbug that's gray or brown on one end, and pink on the other, it's in the middle of molting.

4. Pillbug mothers carry their eggs in a pouch.


Like crabs and other crustaceans, pillbugs tote their eggs around with them. Overlapping thoracic plates form a special pouch, called a marsupium, on the pillbug's underside. Upon hatching, the tiny juvenile pillbugs remain in the pouch for several days before leaving to explore the world on their own.


5. Pillbugs don't urinate. 


Most animals must convert their wastes, which are high in ammonia, into urea before it can be excreted from the body. But pillbugs have an amazing ability to tolerate ammonia gas, which they can pass directly through their exoskeleton. So, there's no need for pillbugs to urinate.


6. A pillbug can drink with its anus.


Though pillbugs do drink the old-fashioned way – with their mouthparts – they can also take in water through their rear ends. Special tube-shaped structures called uropods can wick water up when needed.


7. Pillbugs curl into tight balls when threatened.


Most kids have poked a pillbug to watch it roll up into a tight ball. In fact, many people call them roly polies for just this reason. Its ability to curl up distinguishes the pillbug from another close relative, the sowbug.


8. Pillbugs eat their own poop.


Yes indeed, pillbugs munch on lots of feces, including their own. Each time a pillbug poops, it loses a little copper, an essential element it needs to live. In order to recycle this precious resource, the pillbug will consume its own poop, a practice known as coprophagy.


9. Sick pillbugs turn bright blue.


Like other animals, pillbugs can contract viral infections. If you find a pillbug that looks bright blue or purple, it's a sign of an iridovirus. Reflected light from the virus causes the cyan color.


10. A pillbug's blood is blue.


Many crustaceans, pillbugs included, have hemocyanin in their blood. Unlike hemoglobin, which contains iron, hemocyanin contains copper ions. When oxygenated, pillbug blood appears blue.



Care of Pill Bugs : 




 courtesy to : 


Pill bugs are known by a number of common names, including roly-polies, woodlice and potato bugs. They are commonly confused with sow bugs, but pill bugs can roll into balls when disturbed, whereas sow bugs cannot. Children love finding them in the yard, and reptile keepers like using them as a part of a cleanup crew in reptile habitats and feeders. Pill bugs are natural decomposers. You can easily raise them in captivity for composting, for reptile feeders, for terrarium cleanup or solely for observation.


- Natural Habitat


Pill bugs can be found in just about any humid area. They thrive in damp locations such as in compost piles, under leaf litter, in pine straw, behind bark and in other organic landscaping materials. It's not uncommon to find large populations under logs, potted plants and rubble.


 - Housing


You can house pill bugs in a cardboard box, but eventually the moist substrate will cause the box to deteriorate. A plastic tub or glass aquarium works better for housing pill bugs. Use about an inch of moist soil, peat moss or humus; use a substrate that will hold humidity. On top of the substrate, you'll want to place a thin layer of leaf litter or bark and use a chunk of wood or bark as a cover.


- Humidity


Pill bugs are quite simple to maintain. You don't need to add additional heating, but you do need to ensure high humidity. Mist the enclosure daily to keep the substrate moist, but don't saturate the substrate. A humidity gauge will help you monitor the humidity level; you want to maintain it above 75 percent. At 85 percent, pill bugs can absorb the water vapor from the surroundings and keep hydrated. Without proper humidity, pill bugs won't survive.


-  Lighting


Pill bugs are nocturnal, so you don't have to add any specialized UV lighting. If you want to create a natural day and night scenario, you can add a clamp light with a regular coil light bulb. Set up a timer so the light turns off after about 10 to 12 hours of daylight.


-  Diet 


In the wild, pill bugs eat mostly decomposing vegetation -- vegetables, fruits, plants, grasses and weeds. When raising pill bugs in captivity, you can feed them fish flakes, apples, carrots, potatoes, lettuces and wild leaf litter. After preparing dinner or dessert, you can throw your vegetable scraps in the pill bug habitat. You don't necessarily have to offer rotting food, but pill bugs will definitely devour vegetation that has sat out a few days and turned soft. Do not offer food that has molded.


 - Maintain the Habitat 


Keeping pill bugs is fairly simple. The key to maintaining the habitat is ensuring that mold doesn't grow. Because the habitat needs to be kept moist, you want to remove uneaten food so it doesn't mold. Otherwise, you don't have thoroughly clean the habitat; the pill bugs will clean after themselves.

My pill bugs

 - How to Care for Pillbugs  :


Pillbugs are small, round bugs that live in many parts of the country. Due to the fact they're easy to handle, many people enjoy keeping pillbugs as pets. You can find pillbugs outdoors, usually under rocks or in other moist areas. If you want to keep pillbugs in your home, make sure you know how to create and maintain the proper environment and feed the pill bugs the correct diet.





Creating an Environment



2-Fill the container with grass and dirt. Once you've secured a container, you can begin creating the proper environment for your pillbugs.


  • Fill the bottom of the container with one to one and half inches of moist soil or sand. You can purchase sand or soil from a pet store or greenhouse.

  • Pillbugs also enjoy wood bark, leaf litter, and other dead vegetation as part of their habitat.[3]

3-Make sure the container is well ventilated. Pillbugs need to live in a ventilated container. Make sure you're able to place small holes on the top of the container, but not too big that pillbugs can escape. Many aquariums come with ventilated lids and you can easily poke holes in the top of a tupperware lid.


Feeding and Caring for Pillbugs

1- Feed pillbugs a healthy diet. Pillbugs eat mostly decomposing vegetables in the wild and should have a similar diet in captivity to keep them healthy.


  • Pillbugs can safely be fed fish flakes, which you can purchase at a pet store.[4]

  • In addition to fish flakes, feed your pillbugs leftover bits of apples, lettuce, potatoes, and carrots. You can also bring leaf litter in from the wild and feed them to your pillbug.[5]

  • While you can feed pillbugs food that has been sitting out for a few days, do not offer them moldy food. This can make them sick.[6]










2-Keep the container humid. Pillbugs require a humid environment to survive.


  • Invest in a humidity thermometer to make sure your pillbugs environment is adequately moist. Pillbugs should not live in an environment of less than 75% humidity. They will not survive without proper humidity.[7]

  • Mist the container once a day with a spray bottle. Also, make sure to add water to the soil on a daily basis. You can also place a damp cotton ball or paper towel in the container. Just make sure your pill bugs don't eat them!

3- Replace soil periodically. Waste gases emitted by pillbugs can be strong enough to cause health problems, so soil should be replaced periodically. Make sure you remove all the pillbugs before changing the soil. If your pillbugs have reproduced, babies may be difficult to differentiate from soil. If this is the case, put a piece of wood in the container as babies are likely to congregate there.

4- Handle pillbugs with care. Most pillbugs can be handled easily, but you should do so with care.


  • Gently pick pillbugs up with your thumb and forefingers when you want to handle them. You can also scoop them up with a spoon.

  • Make sure not to drop your pillbugs while handling them, as this can cause them pain. They walk fairly fast and can sometimes fall by mistake.

  • Never handle pillbugs while they're shedding.


 Monitoring the Pillbugs

1- Do not mix different species. Pillbugs might not be well being mixed with different species. Make sure any bugs you add to your tank are also pillbugs.


  • Pillbugs have flattened, round bodies, sharply rounded antennas, and seven pairs of legs. When frightened, they roll into a tiny ball.[8]

2- Keep mold out of the enclosure. Due to the dampness of a pillbug's environment, you need to make sure their container is mold free. You can do this by periodically switching the soil, as stated, and removing any uneaten food before it becomes moldy.

3-  Periodically clean containers. As containers can grow moldy due to soil, periodically switch your pillbugs into a new, temporary container. Clean the container with soap and water and rinse thoroughly. Then, re-add soil, leaves, and water and put the pillbugs back inside.

Tips :


  • Pillbugs can reproduce fast, so do not add too many to the container at once.

Warnings :


  • Pillbugs do produce a smell and may attract other bugs to your home.

How to Take Care of Roly-Polies :


courtesy to : by By Ben Team

Named for their habit of rolling into tight defensive balls, roly-polies are interesting and educational pets that can appeal to young nature lovers. Although often misidentified as insects, roly-polies are terrestrial crustaceans of the order Isopoda. Also called pill bugs, sow bugs and wood lice, roly-polies are relatively easy critters to care for, as long as you give them a humid habitat and feed them well.


Meet the Family


Like many other isopods, common pill bugs (Armadillidium vulgare) -- the most widely kept pill bug species -- are social creatures that often cohabit with conspecifics. Accordingly, you can keep many species of roly-polies in the same cage. With luck, your colony will include males and females, which are likely to breed.


Habitat and Maintenance


In stark contrast to some of their 12-inch-long marine cousins, roly-polies reach less than 1 inch in length. Accordingly, they do not require much space; an aquarium, plastic cage or storage box with 5 to 10 gallons of capacity is adequate. Cover the bottom of the cage with hardwood mulch, organic topsoil or newspaper. Add plenty of items for the roly-polies to explore and to shelter under. Try pieces of bark, flat rocks, cardboard or crumpled paper.


Keep their environment humid, as pill bugs breathe via gills rather than lungs. As their gills work only when moisture is present in the air, you must mist the enclosure and substrate several times per week to keep the cage suitably damp. Change the bedding periodically, and prevent mold from colonizing the cage.


A secure lid will keep unauthorized hands, pets and flies from entering the tank. You can cover about half the ventilation holes in the lid to reduce the rate at which the cage dries out. Supplemental lighting is unnecessary, but provide your pets with a translucent container so indirect light shines through the cage during the day.

Food and Water


Unlike some of their bizarre relatives, pill bugs eat a wide variety of plant-based foods; they may even eat cardboard or paper placed in the cage. Decaying organic debris is roly-polies' primary food in the wild, but table scraps such as carrot tops, apple peels and celery stalks are suitable foods, as are sweet potatoes, squash, collard greens, zucchini and grapes. You can supply your roly-polies leaves from outdoor plants and trees.


For best results, provide roly-polies about 1 or 2 ounces of food twice or thrice weekly. Each meal should include different food items. Rotate through different foods over time, to help prevent nutritional deficiencies. You d't have to cut your roly-polies' food, as they will nibble on the pieces they intend to eat. Pill bugs derive their moisture from their food, so a water dish is unnecessary.


Safety, Health and Life Span


Use care when handling your roly-polies. Despite their protective exoskeletons, they may die if you drop them or grasp them too tightly. Allow your pet bug to crawl around your outstretched hand, and keep your hands over a table or some other item to prevent them from falling to the floor should they scoot off your hand.


Avoid using insecticides in the space your roly-polies occupy. Do not allow direct sunlight to strike their enclosure, as it may raise the internal temperature and overheat your roly-polies. With good care, roly-polies can live for up to 3 years.



Pill Bugs Care 


courtesy to : 


Pillbugs and sowbugs are terrestrial (land) crustaceans in the taxonomic order called isopods (isopoda). Many of the species that live in backyards in the United States are originally from Europe. They are considered moderately beneficial in the sense they help break down leaves and other plant and animal remains into soil. They can occasionally become pests of greenhouses (which are unnaturally plant-rich and predator-free).


Care: Unlike many other pet bugs, isopods mature before they reach their maximum or ultimate size. They are capable of producing offspring by the time they are half grown. Cultures can easily balloon with minimal care. Keep their habitat relatively moist or humid. They enjoy having a piece of bark to hide in during the day. Many keepers provide them with egg cartons as these wick up a bit of moisture in the cage and remain moist. As omnivores they will eat bits of dog or cat food, bits of fruit and vegetable, or simply dried leaves and mosses from your backyard.


Isopods are often employed as decomposers within the pet bug, frog or reptile terrarium. Many hobbyists, from tarantula keepers, to roach and stick-insect keepers stock their cages with isopods which conveniently feed on frass (poop), leftover bits of feeder or prey insects, and pretty much anything else on or in the substrate. In this way they are often referred to as janitors. Through these clean up crew duties they go a long way to prevent the establishment of many other cage "pests" like mites and fungus gnats, as well as mold. Like a rainforest with various tiers from the upper canopy to the ground level and even slightly below it, the captive habitat can become a multi-storied, natural display with the simple introduction of these beneficial cohabitants to the cages of our other pets. 


When isopods molt, they split their exoskeleton down the middle, shedding half at a time, rather than in a single piece like other familiar arthropods. The video below documents this event.


What are the differences between pill bugs and sow bugs? The most obvious difference is that pill bugs (Armadillidium spp.) can roll themselves up into tightly closed balls. Their plated segments are thick and fit together to make a perfect sphere, thereby protecting their softer underside. Sowbugs, on the other hand, are unable to roll themselves into balls. They look very similar to pill bugs, but tend to have a flatter, less hemispherical, appearance.


We have two familiar species of pills bugs in the US. Armadillidium vulgare is the larger of the two, and the dorsal segments tend to be glossy. Larger individuals of A. vulgare (older) often exhibit yellow or greenish spotting which occurs mainly down the middle of the segments. The other species we usually encounter is Armadillidium nasatum. These are smaller and tend to have a pattern of very pale green to gray spots running through the middle and along the sides of the segments. A. nasatum is also less glossy, if at all.


Sow bugs are more diverse, including several different taxonomic genera. Porcellio species sowbugs are the most familiar. Porcellio scaber is the most common and describes our most common species referred to as the gray sow bug. This same species comes in several color forms. In much the same way that different breeds of dog or cat are available in the mammalian pet trades, Porcellio scaber have been isolated into orange and other color forms. A good article that discusses some of the genetics at play can be found here.


Another common sow bug available in the hobby is Oniscus asellus. These are sometimes called skirted isopods because their segments have little extensions protruding along the perimeter of the body. Mature O. asellus have much thicker cuticles (shells) than Porcellio spp. do. This thickness, along with the rigid "skirting" makes them difficult mouthfuls for predators. Oniscus asellus are widespread in US metropolitan areas, as are the other species mentioned so far on this page. This particular species has more of a salt and pepper coloration and a glossy sheen. Occasionally, older individuals will exhibit beautiful, metallic flecks of green and yellow in sunlight or other bright light. Oniscus asellus is about 33% larger than Porcellio scaber.


A few other species proliferate in the hobby including some known as dwarf isopods or dwarf sowbugs. These other species are exotics which have not managed to establish in the US (they don't live here), like the aforementioned species. The reason for this is probably as simple as "they can't". These species originate in the amphibian hobby as feeder bugs. Sometimes called white isopods or dwarf white isopods, or even dwarf white sowbugs, Trichorhina tomentosa are an increasingly popular feeder species. The details of their anatomy are microscopic at first, and even the largest individuals barely reach 3mm. Similarly, jungle micropods, a cute name for micro isopods, reach 2mm at most. Both of these species, and a few others, are common feeders for poison arrow dart frogs and other young or even mature amphibians and reptiles. In a pinch they are also accepted by young tarantulas and mantises, especially the softer-bodied isopods.

(digital microscope photos courtesy of Ryan Eide)

Pill Bugs Species : 


Two Familes are recognized as a pet  bill bugs :


- Armadillidium ( Armadillidiidae ) 


The family Armadillidiidae is differentiated from other woodlouse families by the two-segmented nature of the antennal flagellum, by the form of the uropods, and by the ability to roll into a ball, or conglobate


Within the family Armadillididae, fifteen genera are currently recognized:


  • Alloschizidium

  • Armadillidium

  • Ballodillium

  • Cristarmadillidium

  • Cyphodillidium

  • Echinarmadillidium

  • Eleoniscus

  • Eluma

  • Paraschizidium

  • Paxodillidium

  • Platanosphaera

  • Schizidium

  • Trichodillidium

  • Troglarmadillidium

  • Typhlarmadillidium

 - porcellio spec :


courtesy to : 


The attitude of most Assel styles designed in the Broad as the small millipede species. The basic setup of the box or the terrarium should consist of a min. 5 cm thick layer of leaves (deciduous forest humus), or Flake Soil, mixed with white rotten wood.


For most types of containers or terrariums already enough with an approximate volume of 5 L. Depending on the species, number, type and final size and their preferred location but more spacious pools are needed. If you want to woodlice nachgestallten their natural habitat, to fauna boxes are from 20 L umd in addition to the aforementioned base substrates that retain moisture, even stone constructions (the stones should be calcareous), offer safe hiding place. 


As the substrate, and as a retreat to deciduous forest humus is. Never should a sufficient amount of white rotten wood missing, because in nature to feed many Assel types of biomass decay. As ideal for the demands of most species Flake Soil has (like some lime / minerals in the form of oyster shotgun or milled eggs Saddle Lener under mix) reported. By the substrate woodlice cover a large part of their food needs.


ranches with lots of lichens serve as an extension of the menu. Pieces of bark provide good hiding places and woodlice like to collect several specimens of these dark places.


Cucumber, carrot, scalded vegetables, possibly. A little silkworm or quality flake food or sticks (Snail sticks) round out the bill of fare.

When setting up the terrarium the holder remain many creative possibilities.

The soil should be slightly moist, many species tend to dress back into deeper layers.

The attitude temperature should not fall below 18 ° C and can rise up to 26 ° C. 




Wood Lice 

Armadillidium vulgare (Oniscidea - Armadillidiidae) pill-bug, pill woodlouse

Other photos for porcellio : 


courtesy to :

Porcellio ornatus

Porcellio Ornatus.Ornate Woodlouse.High Yellow.Another beautiful species

Porcellio Expansus.Cave Woodlouse.A large and beautiful species that really sets the standards for Isopods.

Porcellio Bolivari.Yellow Cave Woodlouse.A large and beautiful species that is a lot more wide spread than most other rare Spanish Isopods.

Porcellio silvestri

Porcellio Magnificus.Magnificent Woodlouse

 Alot of species available and every year  new are discovered for more species and photos : 



Porcellio ornatus

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