This entry to be posted on October 25, 2013 by solanaeditor, in Composting, Ecology, Gardening and tagged Composting, Gardening, Insects, Pill Bugs, pillbug. Bookmark the permalink.Leave a comment
" data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class=" wp-image-746 " src="" alt="A Roly Poly gnawing at a strawberry." width="386" height="282" srcset=" 386w, 772w, 150w, 300w, 768w" sizes="(max-width: 386px) 100vw, 386px" />A Roly Poly gnawing in ~ a strawberry.

You are watching: How are pill bugs and earthworms alike

Contributed by Nancee Foglesong, grasp Composter.

Did you recognize that Roly Polies room not insects, but crustaceans? these creatures, an ext formally known as pill bugs (Armadillidiidae), have a propensity to roam right into our compost bins. Many composters are concerned about transferring these small creatures from their cured compost right into their garden. Carry out Pill Bugs attitude a danger to plants?

The quick Answer: Pill bugs perform not normally eat live plant material. Favor earthworms, pill bugs seek out moist, dark habitats—making a compost bin perfect home. Your diet in the compost heap is the same to your diet in natural surroundings, consisting greatly of rotting wood and also decomposing plant and also animal matter. (Occasionally, they may eat a fellow live pill bug, if various other food resources are scarce.) unlike worms, pill bugs have actually mandibles consist of of 2 jaws come chew up their food. The food passes with their digestive system, releasing part moisture and also nutrients before exiting v the anus as droppings.The droppings currently have an ext easily digestible nutrients, and also are often consumed by the pill bug. Choose the lovely earthworm, pill bugs are additionally recyclers that develop nutrient-rich soil, and do no technically should be eliminated from perfect compost before it is provided in the garden. However, like various other creatures, opportunistic pill bugs may eat live plants. Ultimately, if pill bugs are discovered in a compost heap or worm bin, that is a authorize of a healthy and balanced compost environment.

As i said, that was the rapid answer. Ns am hardly ever satisfied v the basic answer. I want to know why part gardeners to be having troubles with pill bugs in your garden. What was i missing? After looking through fairly a few books, and online, i only uncovered one reference to pill bugs eating live plants. Evidently, they will certainly eat v a strawberry job if provided the opportunity. However all other reference materials shown that these tiny creatures are other soil recyclers. In fact, several references suggested that if pill bugs are uncovered in a compost pile or worm bin, it is a authorize of a healthy and balanced compost environment.

The just advice I discovered citing pill bugs as problematic in the garden remained in Loren Nancarrow’s book, aptly named The Worm Book, written through Janet Hogan Taylor. He suggests that while carrying cured compost to the garden, gardeners “hand-pick out. Don’t worry—they i will not ~ bite.” and they don’t carry any diseases.

Seeing is Believing: 

But as soon as again, ns wasn’t rather satisfied through this information, particularly after i went out one morning to inspect on my two raised beds of strawberries. It to be overcast and also still a bit dark; I had actually watered the beds the night before, so the soil and also plants to be still moist. And guess what i found: pill bugs busily munching on mine strawberry plants. Big and small, these small animals were reportedly enjoying very early morning meal. Prior to I disturbed them, ns wondered if the other bed the strawberries had been struck as well. No one pill bug was visible. Ns went earlier to the first bed, and watched as they chewed up another leaf. What to be different between these 2 beds? Why was only one bed of strawberry overrun with pill bugs? and also why hadn’t ns noticed this before? It was then that ns realized the I had spread cured vermicompost on only one bed the strawberries, the one with every one of the pill bugs. I had been the one to placed them in there—they had actually hitched a journey in the freshly used compost. In mine worm bin, they had been quite satisfied through the organic issue I yielded to castle in the form of kitchen scraps and also shredded paper. Now, they to be happily eating my plants.

Another fact came to be clear once I do the efforts to catch a couple of of the small isopods. As soon as lock sensed the disturbance of my hand relocating the leaves and dirt, they rolling up right into balls, scurried under leaves, or dived right into the soil. I had a hard time ‘hand picking’ castle out! I lastly resorted to scooping out a tiny handful of floor to catch a few specimens, dumping them into a an insect keeper. Ns wanted images of these little neighbors. I regulated to obtain a variety of sizes, from about 1/8” to about ½”. I especially wanted photos of your undersides come inspect. Once recorded digitally, ns released the pill bugs ago into a less-tantalizing area of mine garden, hope they wouldn’t find a way back right into my strawberry patch.

Semi-Final Answer: Unfortunately, the advice stays the same; if you don’t desire the pill bugs in your garden, hand choose or gently display them out while the compost is curing. Generally, pill bugs are great macro-organisms to have actually in the garden, as they work alongside other soil recyclers. If friend don’t have actually the time to screen your compost for the critters, maybe you have a community child or teen that would be ready to help. My 4-year-old neighbor has turned out to be really interested in ‘bugs’, and happily help me with tiny chores. Meanwhile, i will proceed looking for much more ways to address pill bugs already residing in the garden.

Pill Bugs room Not Insects:

Although these fascinating creatures room often called ‘bugs’, pill bugs are not insects. Pill bugs and also sow bugs are various species, but both belong come the phylum Arthropoda, and also class Malacostraca. Lock are part of the household of Armadillidiidae, soil crustaceans the are concerned crabs, lobsters, shrimp, and barnacles. This connection is apparent when check up close. As soon as magnified, (I turn one over and also took a picture, climate zoomed in to see more clearly) the tail finish of this floor arthropod is remarkably comparable to the tail finish of a lobster. The main difference in between pill bugs and also sow bugs is the pill bugs’ capacity to roll right into a sphere for defense. Due to the fact that sow bugs (and other members of the woodlice family) cannot carry out this, you deserve to differentiate in between the 2 by gently emotional the soil crustacean to view if the rolls up. If that does, the a pill bug.

Pill bugs space Isopods, having legs of the same length. Their ‘body armor’ arrays in shade from irradiate grey come brown to purple. If you discover a glowing blue pill bug, the likely has actually a virus (not transferable to humans). They have actually three key body parts, the head, the thorax, and the abdomen.

The head has actually a mouth v mandibles, two solid jaws come chew its food, creating much more surfaces for helpful bacteria and fungus to grow. The two eyes are compound eyes, consisted of of 15 to 20 little eyes, every looking in a slightly different direction. The antennae space two sets of feelers, one collection larger and longer, the taps on the ground to discover food and also mates. This collection of antennae deserve to fold up into a hole in the head when the pill bug rolls into its spherical defensive position. No purpose has yet been uncovered for the 2nd set that antennae.

The thorax is the section of the body the is extended by the seven segments of the exoskeleton. The seven pairs that legs room attached to the 7 segments. Their legs room jointed and have bristles; the part of the lower joint often rests on the ground and also the bristles offer them much better traction. In a lesser-known eco-friendly role, pill bugs are necessary carriers of microbial life. As they move around foraging and eating, microorganisms lugged on the pill bug’s human body are dispersed as the organize travels.

The abdomen is the last section of the body where the europods space found. The europods are two small, tail-like stalks that aid in moisture uptake so an essential to the pill bug. Pill bugs have actually no lungs, however a function quite similar to gills to breathe and also to absorb extr moisture. Together moisture is absorbed, the gills different out the oxygen to be offered in the blood stream.While regularly recognized because that the nutrient they excrete, vital mineral found inside pill bugs is copper. Copper tote oxygen throughout the circulatory mechanism of the pill bug. Just as the mineral stole carries oxygen v the person system, making ours blood red, the copper in a pill bug’s device makes that is blood blue.

Three stages of Life The pill pest goes through 3 stages that life: an initial as an egg, climate a manca, and also finally, an adult. After ~ mating, the female lays a brood of eggs (which may be up to 250 in count). Many varieties of woodlice bring the eggs in fluid-filled pouches under the section of your body known as the abdomen. The eggs might hatch within two to three months, and the nymphs might stay in the bag a little longer. At this point, the nymphs have actually only six pairs of legs. When they arise from the pouch, castle are recognized as mancae. In ~ 24 hrs of leave the brood pouch, the manca will start to molt, shedding the first softer shell to fit the larger underbody. It is in ~ this point, the it add to the seventh pair of legs, and is designated an adult pill bug. In appearance, this brand-new adult will certainly look the same to the much more mature adults, simply much smaller. As it grows over its three- to four-year lifetime, it will certainly molt as much as 12 an ext times. Throughout the molting process, only half of the shell, the exoskeleton, will certainly be shed, leaving this floor crustacean breakable to predators. As the exposed section of the white body grows a brand-new shell, the second half the the human body will burned as well. During this time, the does no eat, nor have the right to it role up in defense. It likewise has no capability to retain the an important moisture required for survival.

Soil Recyclers These floor crustaceans are organic recyclers, chewing increase the bigger pieces of dead plant and animal product in your environment. They regularly come out at night to discover food and also to take it in moisture. Their droppings become component of the rich nutrient mix so an essential for tree growth and vitality. As stated in Teaming through Microbes, by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis, “As these arthropods go about their business, lock mix and also aerate soil; your waste commodities also include organic matter.” together we gardeners and also composters become an ext acquainted with the life forms in our soil and also bins, we truly can begin to see an extended web that life, one where all life forms are interdependent. Remove one strand, and also the whole web changes.

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About my Bibliography: girlfriend will uncover that I usage a mixture the adult recommendation books, as well as children’s books. I have discovered that children’s books are often a resource of solid and easily attainable information. Check it out! I likewise use website that room usually attached to universities or experienced organizations. Mine criteria for study data is the all facts need to agree in 2 or much more reference materials; if not, I will state that there room conflicting facts.