6 Facts About Pill Bugs or Roly Polies

pill bugPill bugs live throughout the Rocky Mountains and are a great educational tool since they are safe to touch.  Here are 6 fun facts about these animals.

I remember spending a lot of time as a kid outside in our yard picking up the wood border around our grass and finding pill bugs.  I used to love picking them up and watching them roll up into little balls.  Since they are harmless to people, common, and easy to find they are popular with kids (like me).  I did some research on these cool animals and want to share some fun facts with you about them.

What Are Pill Bugs?

This animal is a crustacean in the family of woodlice.  It is scientifically classified in the class of malacostraca, one of the five main classes of bugs in the Rocky Mountains.  This means that they are not in fact insects (another class of bug).

Generally, they are about 3/4 of an inch long and gray or black in color.  They have 7 pairs of legs and one pair of antennae.

pill bugs

Photo via Flickr.

6 Fun Facts About Pill Bugs

pill bug

A shrimp is another crustacean.

These are the only crustaceans that spend their entire life on land.  However, they must stay moist in order to survive.  If they dry out they will die.  Most crustaceans live part or most of their life in water.  Some of the common crustaceans are crabs, lobsters, and shrimp.

Pill bugs live on average one and a half years.

They feed on decaying plant matter.  This means they like to eat leaf litter, grass, and other parts of plants that are on the ground.

pill bug

Rolled up for protection. Photo via Flickr.

Pill bugs will sometimes eat their own poop!  Yes it is true.  When they poop they lose some of the elements they need to survive.  So, they will eat poop, including their own in order to replace these lost elements.

Females carry newborn babies in a pouch for a short time after they are born.  After mating, the female carries the eggs in a pouch on her body.  Even after giving birth, the newborn babies stay in the pouch until they are ready to leave.

They molt their exoskeleton half at a time.  Similar to all invertebrates, pill bugs have an exoskeleton that they shed or molt in order to grow larger.  However, they are unique in that they do not molt their entire exoskeleton at one time.  Rather they molt half at a time.  For a reminder, here is an old post on molting.