Currently viewing the category: "Crustaceans"
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Dear Bugman,
What is the scientific name for rollie pollies and what do they eat? Are the on the website?
Thanks. Mom Adams

Dear Mom Adams,
We just got a question about Pill Bugs or Sow Bugs, which are Isopods, not true insects. The common Pill Bug goes by the scientific name Armadillidium vulgare. They are omniverous and eat young and decaying plant material. We had not heard of the common name Rollie Pollie until our student Betina mentioned it. Thank you for reaffirming that local term.

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I live in the Northeast and I having a problem with these black bugs in my basement. I always thought they were called potato bugs but when I looked for a picture of potato bugs on the net, I realized that the bugs in my basement are something else. I would like to know what they are called. The are black. They have a shell-like back. They roll into a perfect ball when they are touched. They don’t bite. I use to play with them as a child. I have not seen them in the winter months. However, somehow, they find there way in my home when the weather breaks. Do you know if they have a name?

Dear Connie,
It sounds like you are describing Sow Bugs or Pill Bugs. These are not insects but Isopods, a group of Crustaceans. They are often numerous in damp places including basements and gardens. They are called Pill Bugs because of their habit of rolling into a ball. The Common Pill Bug, Armadillidium vulgare, is dark in color, often approaching black. They are omniverous, and feed on young and decaying plant material. Unless very numerous, they do not make significant damage. They have few predators because of a distasteful secretion, but a spider, the Sow Bug Killer, is a natural enemy. Here is a photo we just took in our garden.

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Dear WTB,
I encountered a different looking bug this morning, and have been trying to search the net for pictures, but have been unsuccessful, and was hoping you could help. The body of the spider was an oval-oblong shape and beige, or tan in color, and the head was small and red and the legs appeared to be coming out in between the head and body and they were also red in color. I thought it a little strange that the legs were not spread out along the body. I live in the Denver Co. area, if that helps. Any photos would be great too.

Dear K,
That is the second letter today with the same spider. The other was from the UK. You saw a Sow Bug Killer, Dysdera crocota. They are one of the few predators that will eat sow bugs which have an unleasant taste. They sometimes bite people, but the bite is not serious. They are beneficial.

Thank you for your reply. Would you happen to have a photo of the sow bug
killer? I have tried looking for one, but cannot find one.
Thank You

Hi K,
I’ve enclosed the photo. Let us know if that was your spider.

Sorry for the delay.
That is the spider.
Thanks for your help.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination