Pillbugs on Patrol
You gotta love those university entomologists and their command of the big words.
Here’s what they say over at the University of Florida.
• “Isopods – a type of non-insect arthropods, also known as a terrestrial crustacean.” (But you already knew that.)
• Armadillidium vulgare. Try that with a mouthful of mush.
• Originally from Europe, but now, as you’ve noticed, very common in the U.S. and Texas.
• Usually gray, but often brown.
• Able to roll up into tight balls when disturbed. Hence the common names “pillbug” and “roly-poly.”
• Usually found in moist, shady spots, then most active at night.
• Prolific. Females carry eggs in brood pouches on their undersides. The eggs hatch after 3-4 weeks and there are 1-3 broods per year each pillbug with 100-300 eggs per brood. (Yikes!)
• Relatively long-lived (2-5 years).
• Not especially damaging, although I’ve had them feed on young wax begonia plants almost like beavers as they chewed around the bases of the young stems. They prefer tender new vegetation. They’re especially fond of new seedlings.
• Controls include removing decaying organic materials where they might hide. One can also apply dust or baits to kill them if necessary.
Want lots more technical information? This will keep you busy: https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/MISC/Armadillidium_vulgare.htm
Posted by Neil Sperry