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Rollie Pollie from the Ancient Past…




Similar to miniature armored tanks
from the prehistoric past,
you scurry along like ancient,
deep sea Silurian Period trilobites
(with shielding exteriors) 
to be envied by soft, fragile, vulnerable we.



Much like M.C.Escher’s famous Curl-up Prints — these crustaceans probably inspired him — Rollie Pollies (or Pill Bugs) are capable of rolling up into protective balls, just like trilobites did many millions of years ago in the deep oceans.   This particular species looks to be more like a Sow Bug so is likely not able to fully roll up like an almost similar looking Pill Bug can.  Most Rollie Pollies live up to two years.  They are the only crustaceans that can spend their entire life on land.  They mostly eat dead vegetation.  They breathe by means of gills, which necessitates needing to be in a humid air environment (such as under logs).


Sow Bug from the Past… Photo by Thomas Peace c. 2018



37 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. I understand that the pill bugs have few predators (if any), because they are nasty tasting! Makes me wonder why they need the armor. It won’t protect them from me if I find them in my vegetable garden.


  2. We get 2 types here in UK in our garden. Those that roll up and those that do not. We have more that do not roll up. I recall finding out with babies attached on the underside. I have no idea if the hatchlings come from eggs and hatch then hang onto mum or if they develop there.


  3. The ones that don’t roll up are known as Wood Lice in the U.K. If I recall correctly they moult out of the shell as they grow but I’ve never seen a discarded shell.


  4. It’s funny how flora and fauna have different common names in different parts of the world. We always called them “potato” bugs. I had no idea they lived that long!


  5. The pill bugs are common in our hill country, and I remember learning about trilobites in school, but I don’t think I’ve encountered these. Perhaps I just haven’t noticed them. It’s entirely possible that conditions here are just too dry for them. A bit to the east, in the piney woods, I’ll bet they’re abundant. Thanks for the introduction!


  6. Interesting info Tom … I like these bugs because they don’t have long legs that skitter across the floor and run faster than I do.


      • Now Daddy Longlegs I can handle because they have the teeny little bodies and very skinny legs. They don’t pose a threat to me like those big garden spiders or centipedes. Now is the time that all the big webs are spun across sidewalks or from tree to tree and you walk into them … me, the walker does not like that. I start batting the air like a cat, clawing the icky-sticky stuff from my face. I always imagine a huge spider has plopped down on my head and if it traveled to my face or landed on my arm, I’d likely have a heart attack on the spot!

  7. Hi Tom, here in the part of Ireland where I live these are call Slaters. Very common since they like damp places and Ireland’s a damp place.☔


  8. Thanks for the education! Now I can look at them in a bit of a different light during the next invasion of our home. LOL They cycle through as the vermin of the year every 3-4 years. 🙂


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