Pillbugs at the Carwash

Isopods in a Texas Carwash
Location:  Greenville, Texas
August 19, 2010 7:51 pm
Last year had a very dry summer here. I was helping do some repairs at a carwash and noticed a large mass of isopods hiding out in the corners of each of the wash bays. They would get blown out in the driveway when someone would wash a car, only to mosey back into the cool shadey wet wash bay after the car left!


Hi David,
Though common names are often very descriptive and they enable the average person to remember what to call a creature since polysyllabic binomial names can often be both difficult to pronounce and difficult to remember, the use of common names can also lead to confusion, in the case of this Woodlouse.  Woodlouse is the common name indicated on BugGuide for the introduced European species
Armadillidium vulgare, which we believe is the species in your photographs.  The confusion is created in the higher taxonomy.  The order Isopoda contains the suborder Oniscidea, which are the Woodlice.  Within that suborder is the family Armadillidiidae, the Pillbugs, so named because they roll into a ball.  Children also call them Roly-Pollies.  By that reasoning, all Pillbugs are Woodlice, but not all Woodlice are Pillbugs.  The genus Armadillidium contains two species, one of them being the Woodlouse, Armadillidium vulgare.  The common name Woodlouse goes back to a more general classification after the more specific family name Pillbug has been used to differentiate those members of the order that roll into balls for protection.  BugGuide indicates the species prefers:  “Humid places under stones, bricks, or logs” so their preference for the damp corner of the carwash is quite consistent.


Hi Daniel,
Let me tell you how much I love your website…and how often I use it in my work as a park naturalist! A LOT!!
You forgot to mention in your reply to David in Greenville, Texas that the woodlice are not bugs/insects but crustaceans that breathe through gills, which is why they like moist, damp places. (There are also aquatic isopods!) Another cool thing about them is that the females carry their fertilized eggs in a pouch on their bodies until they hatch.  Very cool animals indeed!
Liz  (as always, please do not print my work information.  Thanks!)

Thanks for the information Liz.  Though these Woodlice were not identified as Crustaceans in our response, we did categorize them under Crustaceans.

Leave a Comment