Sowbug infected with Iridovirus

purple bug
July 11, 2009
Hello, we have purple bugs. They’re what we call potato bugs here in Michigan, but I see that on this site a potato bug is something else. Anyway, they are normally brown, but many of them are purple now.
Any ideas?
Western Michigan

Wood Louse infected with Iridovirus
Wood Louse infected with Iridovirus

Hi Kris,
This is the second time we have received a photo of a blue Sowbug or Wood Louse.  Sow Bugs are sometimes called Pill Bugs because they roll into a ball.  When a Sowbug is infected by a certain iridovirus, it turns blue.  Here is what the Woodlice Oddities Page has to say:  “Blue Woodlice An iridovirus can infect woodlice and at advanced stages of infection virus accumulates in such large numbers that it forms crystallinel structures in the diseased tissues. These crstalline structures give an intense blue or purple colour to the woodlice.
Individuals infected to this extent will usually die within a short time.”

4 thoughts on “Sowbug infected with Iridovirus”

  1. Holy wow. I never imagined a viral infection could become so severe that it could change the hue of an animal. Chilling!!!

  2. We too call them Potato bugs here in Utah. Ive heard people fro other areas call them rollie pollies, doodle bugs, or pill bugs. But around here they’ve always been called Potato bugs.


Leave a Comment