Armadillidium vulgare

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Armadillidium vulgare
Armadillidium vulgare 001.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Isopoda
Suborder: Oniscidea
Family: Armadillidiidae
Genus: Armadillidium
Species: A. vulgare
Binomial name
Armadillidium vulgare
Latreille, 1804 [1]
Synonyms [2]
  • Armadillidium affine
  • Armadillidium armeniense
  • Armadillidium brevicaudatum
  • Armadillidium commutatum
  • Armadillidium decipiens
  • Armadillidium marmoreum
  • Armadillidium nitidulum
  • Armadillidium oliveti
  • Armadillidium pilulare
  • Armadillidium schellenbergi
  • Armadillidium sorattinum
  • Armadillidium subdentatum
  • Armadillidium triviale
  • Armadillidium variegatum
  • Armadillo ater
  • Armadillo convexus
  • Armadillo marmoreus
  • Armadillo pilularis
  • Armadillo pustulatus
  • Armadillo trivialis
  • Armadillo variegatus
  • Armadillo vulgaris

Armadillidium vulgare, the (common) pill-bug, (common) pill woodlouse, rolly polly or potato bug, is a widespread European species of woodlouse. It is the most extensively investigated terrestrial isopod species.[2]

Description[edit]

Armadillidium vulgare may reach a length of 18 millimetres (0.71 in), and is capable of rolling into a ball when disturbed; this ability, along with its general appearance, gives it the name pill-bug and also creates the potential for confusion with pill millipedes such as Glomeris marginata.[3] It can be distinguished from Armadillidium nasatum and Armadillidium depressum, the only other British species in the genus, by the gap that A. nasatum and A. depressum leave when rolling into a ball; A. vulgare does not leave such a gap.[4]

Armadillidium vulgare beginning to unroll from its defensive posture
A related isopod with its clutch on the belly

Ecology[edit]

Armadillidium vulgare is able to withstand drier conditions than many other woodlouse species, and is restricted to calcareous soils or coastal areas.[3] It feeds chiefly on decaying plant matter, but also grazes lichens and algae from tree bark and walls.[5]

It is able to regulate its temperature through its behaviour, preferring bright sunshine when temperatures are low, but remaining in shadow when temperatures are high; temperatures below −2 °C (28 °F) or above 36 °C (97 °F) are lethal to it.[6] A. vulgare is less susceptible to cold during the night, and may enter a state of dormancy during the winter in order to survive temperatures which would otherwise be lethal.[6]

Distribution[edit]

The native distribution of A. vulgare ranges across Europe, especially in the Mediterranean region .[2] In the United Kingdom, A. vulgare is very common in southern and eastern England, but is more confined to coastal areas in the north.[7] Similarly, in Ireland, A. vulgare is common in the south and east, but rarer in the north and west.[8]

A. vulgare has also been introduced to many locations in North America, where it may reach population densities of up to 10,000 individuals per square metre.[9] It is now one of the most abundant invertebrate species in California coastal grassland habitats.[10] It has also been introduced, to a lesser extent, to sites across the world.[2]

Relationships with humans[edit]

Because of their unusual yet non-threatening appearance, some Armadillidium vulgare are kept as pets in areas throughout the U.S., typically among children. Among adults, they are often seen as unwanted (but essentially harmless) home pests.[11] Keeping a pet pill bug requires a very moist habitat with limited light and lots of decaying plant matter.[12] They can often live up to three years.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Armadillidium vulgare". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  2. ^ a b c d Helmut Schmalfuss (2003). "World catalog of terrestrial isopods (Isopoda: Oniscidea) — revised and updated version". Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde, Serie A 654: 341 pp. 
  3. ^ a b "Pill woodlouse (Armadillidium vulgare)". ARKive.org. Retrieved February 13, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Woodlouse Wizard: an identification key". Natural History Museum. Retrieved August 20, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Common pill woodlouse — Armadillidium vulgare". Natural England. Retrieved February 13, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b Roberto Refinetti (1984). "Behavioral temperature regulation in the pill bug, Armadillidium vulgare (Isopoda)". Crustaceana 47 (1): 29–43. doi:10.1163/156854084X00298. 
  7. ^ "Armadillidium vulgare". Natural History Museum. Retrieved November 7, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Grid map of records on the Gateway for Common Pill Woodlouse (Armadillidium vulgare)". NBN Gateway. Retrieved February 13, 2009. 
  9. ^ Jan Frouza, Richard Lobinske, Jirí Kalcík & Arshad Ali (2008). "Effects of the exotic crustacean, Armadillidium vulgare (Isopoda), and other macrofauna on organic matter dynamics in soil microcosms in a hardwood forest in central Florida". Florida Entomologist 91 (2): 328–331. doi:10.1653/0015-4040(2008)91[328:EOTECA]2.0.CO;2. 
  10. ^ Oscar H. Paris (1963). "The ecology of Armadillidium vulgare (Isopoda: Oniscoidea) in California grassland: food, enemies, and weather". Ecological Monographs (Ecological Society of America) 33 (1): 1–22. doi:10.2307/1948475. JSTOR 1948475. 
  11. ^ a b Smith-Rogers, Sheryl (October 2009). "Wild Thing: Roly-Poly Pillbugs". TPW Magazine. Retrieved July 10, 2010. 
  12. ^ Stanley A. Schultz & Marguerite J. Schultz (2009). The Tarantula Keeper's Guide: Comprehensive Information on Care, Housing, and Feeding. Barron's Educational Series. pp. 181–183. ISBN 978-0-7641-3885-0.