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Common Pill-Bug

Armadillidium vulgare

Common Pill Woodlouse, Armadillidium vulgare, photo © by Mike Plagens

Common Pill-Bug found beneath a log along the Upper East Verde River in Gila Co., Arizona, USA. August 2010.

Armadillidiidae -- a Woodlouse Family

These are among the most familiar of arthropods across North America and Eurasia. Because they are crustaceans and not true bugs or insects they retain a need for a moist environment. In the Sonoran Desert that pretty much confines woodlice to irrigated gardens and water leaks. At higher elevations moist conditions suitable for these detritivores exist in shady ravines and near riparian woodlands.

Pill-bugs are not native to Arizona, but were carried by settlers long ago inadvertantly. Detritivores feed mostly on dead, mouldy leaves and rotting wood. Composting heaps are an ideal habitat for them and indeed they are part of the network of organisms that converts such vegetable waste into valuable garden mulch. If woodlice become a problem inside, the homeowner should focus on repairing the problem that allows moisture to accumulate.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 15 October 2011