Friday, April 3, 2009

armadillidium vulgare

i did not know that roly polys are crustaceans. "terrestrial crustaceans." they have gills. how crazy is that? their typical life span is two to three years. they're "detritivores," the best new word i've learned in a long time. i learned another fabulous word, too: "volvation," the act of rolling into a ball for defense. you know that's going in a poem.

the females carry their eggs in a sort of marsupial pocket, hundreds at a time, until they hatch. oh, and another one of their nicknames besides the usual "roly poly" or "pill bug" is "chuggypig." i read a little magazine blurb about them being crustaceans that got me all interested and i thought i'd get online and find a ton more fun facts, but their wikipedia page is surprisingly sparse and i can't seem to find much else.

it did lead me to some interesting info about millipedes, though. i always wanted a giant milipede as a pet when i was a kid--i remember seeing one in some music video, i think it was prodigy or marilyn manson...and i was like, wow, that is the coolest bug i've ever seen.

when i was little i used to play with both roly polys and millipedes all the time in maryland, when my grandparents had a huge back yard that was partially covered in bricks--i would point to a brick and my grandpa would turn it over so i could get at all the fun little creatures hiding underneath. i never much liked centipedes, they're kind of rude, but millipedes are so slow and gentle and harmless...they were always one of my favorites. the ones i found back east were usually a bit bigger than the ones here.

the other day i discovered a couple small millipedes in some moss that i was harvesting for a terrarium and i left them in there, hoping they might grow larger in a controlled environment without predators, but i doubt that will happen--i've never seen one more than an inch long here in boise, so i think whatever kind we have is not the kind that gets big. on the wikipedia page it says african giant black millipedes can grow to over 15 inches. i want one...

this site has a lot of neat information about millipedes. apparently they like living with the very same kind of orchid that i got a couple weeks ago, which i shockingly haven't killed yet; in fact it's opened two new flowers.

speaking of killing plants, i really want a venus fly trap. i had one for a while last year but i tried to transplant it into a terrarium and failed pretty hard. this year i'll get a bigger terrarium and be more careful about transplanting. that same site has a cool bit about fly traps. i never would have guessed they're native to north and south carolina. they seem so exotic.


Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

HI! I'm researching pillbugs for a magazine article. Here's an informative page on these guys:

Verrrryyyyyy interesting crustaceans! I've been around pillbugs all my life but never really pondered them.


Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...
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