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  • Common Pillbug - (Armadillidium vulgare)

    Common Pillbug - (Armadillidium vulgare)

    The Common Pillbug may go by many different names, but everyone recognizes this small armored ball.




    Staff Writer (7/21/2016): With a plated armor similar to armadillos, it is no mystery how their Genus name was determined. The Common Pillbug has a different common name in various regions of North America. In the West, they are called Sowbugs (though true Sowbugs are actually in a different genus and do not roll up like Pillbugs). In the Midwest, they are Roly-Polies. In the East, they are known as Wood Lice (not to be confused with the smaller insect known to infest human hair).

    They are fun to play with. When disturbed, they roll up into a tight ball, allowing their armor to protect their soft underbelly and many legs. They will remain in that defensive position until the threat is believed to have faded. For many children, the gentle and harmless Pillbug is their first foray into observing and interacting with the insect world. Ironically, Pillbugs are not insects! They belong to the Crustacean family!

    They are considered primitive creatures, but they have an important role in the soil ecosystem. They are a food source for insects and arachnids. Their own diet of rotting organic material like leaves and wood mean they help cycle nutrients through the food web.

    They can be found wandering under rocks, wood piles, fallen trees and other moist places where decomposition is likely taking place.

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    Details of the:
    Common Pillbug


    Category: Isopod
    Common name: Common Pillbug
    Scientific Name: Armadillidium vulgare
    Other Names: Sowbug, Wood Louse, Roly-Poly

    Taxonomy:
      Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Subphylum Crustacea
        Class: Malacostraca
         Order: Isopoda
          Family: Armadillidiidae
           Genus: Armadillidium
            Species: vulgare





    Size (Adult, Length): 4mm to 18mm (0.16in to 0.71in)

    Identifying Colors: gray, black, yellow

    Additional Descriptors: shell, harmless, round, legs, ball, armor, armour


    North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico


    * Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.





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