Isopods (or slaters) may look like insects, but they are actually crustaceans! Little creatures like the sowbug and the pillbug (also nicknamed “roly-poly” and “doodlebug”) are more closely related to shrimp and crawfish than insects!
They are most likely native to Europe, but they were introduced to North America several centuries ago. Numerous species are common throughout the U. S. nowadays and can be seen scuttering along the damp ground
Pillbugs and sowbugs and very convex little creatures with distinct segments and seven pairs of legs. They range in color from a grayish brown to a dark slate gray and sport pair of segmented, antennae-like projections at the head end.
Sowbugs have a pair of tail-like projections at the end of their abdomen. They cannot roll up into a “ball” like pillbugs do when they’re disturbed. They both live in high-moisture areas where there is an abundance of decaying organic matter. They generally feed at night and hide during the day to avoid the light and keep from drying out. They are often found huddling together in great masses in an effort to reduce evaporation rate.
Isopods lay eggs and may lay two or three batches in a year. Each female can lay up to about 300 eggs at a time, which will hatch after about 50 days. Newly hatched isopods take about one year to grow to maturity, and adults live for about two years.
A few species can be a pest of cultivated crops. While they occasionally invade homes, they do not damage the structure or the house’s contents and do not survive very long indoors.