What room pillbugs?Have you ever turned over a absent or an old plank in her backyard and also discovered underneath a small, hard-shelled biology that resembles a miniature armadillo? once you picked up the bug in your hand, go it roll up right into a near-perfect ball? together armored creatures are dubbed sow bugs, and the sort that roll up into a ball, or pill shape, frequently are called pillbugs. Technically, sow bugs and pillbugs are well-known as isopods, which means "the legs space alike." Isopods room not insects, yet crustaceans - land-dwelling family members of crabs and also lobsters.

You are watching: How many legs do roly polys have

What execute pillbugs look like? Pillbugs space wingless, oval or slightly elongated isopods around 1/2 customs long. They room colored a slate-gray, and their body segments resemble armored plates. Pillbugs, or "roly-polys," have three body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. They additionally have seven pairs that legs.

How perform pillbugs live?Pillbugs room slow-moving, crawling creatures, and they room cold-blooded, which method their body temperature is regulation by the neighboring environment. In the Columbia Basin, girlfriend can find pillbugs in numerous places, but specifically in gardens, along home foundations, and sometimes in basements. Although these creatures room common, you rarely see them throughout the day because they favor dark, moist areas - under rocks, boards, bricks, trash, disc vegetation, or just beneath the floor surface. Mulches, grass clippings, and leaf litter often provide the disk organic matter these creatures must survive. Only at night perform they emerge to float around.

Pillbugs can breed throughout the year. The mrs carries the eggs in a brood bag on the underside of she body. Often, there are as many as 200 eggs per brood. The eggs hatch in 3 to 7 weeks, and also the young remain in the pouch an additional 6 to 7 weeks. As soon as the young leaving the pouch, they never return. Some varieties produce only one brood per year, yet others may create two or more.

Isopods, like insects and their relatives, must burned their difficult outer skin or exoskeleton to grow. They do this a dozen or much more times during their lives. Pillbugs usually hide when they melted their skin due to the fact that they are especially vulnerable to opponents at this time. The average life expectancy of most isopods is about 2 years, however some have lived as long as 5 years.


"Science is constructed of facts together a house is the stones. Yet a repertoire of facts is no an ext a science than a heap that stones is a house." Henri Poincare

Keep in mental this truth sheet is intended come be offered only together background info to support your initiative to encourage inquiry-based science, i beg your pardon parallels the method scientists i found it knowledge and also solve problems.


1. Armed with a flashlight and also jar, you can easily find and collect pillbugs in the backyard. You additionally can catch them making use of a totality potato together bait. Here"s how: To make the potato trap, boring a 3/4-inch hole with the potato lengthwise, then close up one finish of the hole v a small piece that the potato plug. Place the "trap" in the garden or any type of other place where sow bugs and pillbugs are abundant. Covering the trap v leaves, and leave the alone a few days. The pillbugs will certainly come and also feed within the feet in the potato. To remove them, place the opening over a jar, and also strike the potato come dislodge them. The potato catch is especially advantageous 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 huge pillbugs (8-10 specimens) and place castle in a petri food or jug on dry filter paper. Save the container in dim light, and also observe the reaction that the bugs for 2-3 minutes. Just how do the pillbugs react? record your observations. Now put the very same pillbugs in a container with simply a small piece of damp paper. What do you observe? Why perform you think pillbugs reacted the means they did? Think around where you uncover pillbugs - in damp or dry areas? walk you know that pillbugs have actually gills and also they carry out not maintain water well? within a minute or two you should have actually seen lock clump together once they were put on the dry paper, describe a need to alleviate water ns from your bodies. Most pillbugs action "normally" as soon as the relative humidity is middle high (50-70%), the irradiate is dim, and the temperature is close to indoor problems or contempt lower.

3. Test pillbug responses to temperature. Here"s how: Place 4 to 6 pillbugs in a little jar with a cover, and float the jug on water in a pan. Add ice cubes and also a thermometer, and stir tenderness so as no to pointer the jar. Watch the reaction of the pillbugs. Now remove the ice cubes, and also gently heat the water. After ~ 1 minute, keep in mind the temperature top top the thermometer and also write down the reaction of the pillbugs. Continue to document the temperature and also your observations. Once the temperature it s okay close come 40°C eliminate the pillbugs or lock will go into heat stupor, which might kill them. Walk you recognize that pillbugs slow down your movements and also may even stop relocating as the temperature ideologies 0°C? Pillbugs will speed up their motions as the temperature rises and they come to be frantic by the moment the temperature get 40°C.

(Experiments through 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, qualities 1-12, P.O. Crate 18060, Boulder, Colorado.

See more: Cation/ Anion L Is Barium A Cation Or Anion S, Is This A Cation Or An

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



Initial advance and to press of this reality sheet to be funded by one Eisenhower grant to the Partnership because that Arid floor Stewardship. Composed by: Randy Reed; collection Editor: Georganne O"Connor; Design: WinSome Design; Printing: Eagle Printing and Graphic Design; very first Printing: December 1997; web Development: WinSome Design.