Armadillidium: The Amazing Pill Bugs That Can Roll Into a Ball
Have you ever seen a small, gray creature that looks like a tiny armadillo and can curl up into a ball when threatened? If so, you have encountered an armadillidium, also known as a pill bug, roly-poly, or woodlouse. These fascinating animals are not insects, but crustaceans, related to crabs and lobsters. They belong to the order Isopoda, which means “equal legs”, and have seven pairs of legs and two pairs of antennae. They are also the only crustaceans that can live on land.
Armadillidium are found in moist habitats all over the world, such as under rocks, logs, leaves, and soil. They feed on decaying organic matter, such as dead plants and animals, and help recycle nutrients in the ecosystem. They also have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria that live in their digestive system and help them break down cellulose. Armadillidium are harmless to humans and plants, and can even be kept as pets or used as composting agents.
One of the most remarkable features of armadillidium is their ability to roll into a ball when disturbed. This behavior is called conglobation, and it helps them protect their soft underside from predators and dehydration. Only some species of armadillidium can do this, such as Armadillidium vulgare and Armadillidium nasatum. Other species of isopods can only curl up partially or not at all. The mechanism of conglobation involves a series of plates on the back of the animal that interlock with each other when contracted by muscles.
Another interesting feature of armadillidium is their ability to change color. Some species of armadillidium can produce a pigment called porphyrin, which gives them a reddish or bluish hue. This pigment helps them absorb light and protect themselves from UV radiation. However, it also makes them more visible to predators, so they only produce it when they are in dark or shaded areas. When they are exposed to light, they lose the pigment and become gray again.
Armadillidium are amazing animals that have adapted to live on land and have unique behaviors and characteristics. They are not pests, but beneficial decomposers that play an important role in nature. Next time you see one of these cute creatures, don’t squish it or ignore it, but appreciate its beauty and diversity.
If you want to learn more about armadillidium and other isopods, you can visit some websites that provide information and resources on these animals. For example, you can check out Isopod.com, which is a website dedicated to isopod enthusiasts and hobbyists. You can find articles, videos, photos, and forums about isopods, as well as buy or sell isopods online. You can also join the Isopod Classifieds group on Facebook, which is a community of isopod lovers who share their experiences and knowledge about these animals.
Another way to learn more about armadillidium and other isopods is to observe them in their natural habitat or in captivity. You can find armadillidium in your backyard or garden, or in nearby parks or forests. You can also buy or collect some armadillidium and keep them as pets in a terrarium or a plastic container. You will need to provide them with a moist substrate, such as soil, peat moss, or coconut fiber, and some hiding places, such as bark, wood, or cardboard. You will also need to feed them with fresh or dried leaves, fruits, vegetables, or fish flakes. You can also add some calcium sources, such as eggshells or cuttlebone, to help them molt and grow.
Armadillidium are fun and easy to care for, and they can live for up to three years. They are also very active and social animals, and they will interact with each other and with you. You can watch them roll into balls, change color, dig tunnels, or explore their environment. You can also handle them gently and carefully, as they are not aggressive or venomous. However, you should always wash your hands before and after touching them, as they may carry some bacteria or parasites that can cause infections or allergies.
Armadillidium are more than just bugs that can roll into balls. They are fascinating creatures that have a lot to offer to the world and to us. By learning more about them and respecting them, we can enrich our lives and our environment.