One of the main organisms we raise are isopods, also known as roly polys, rolly pollies, or even pillbug sowbugs. Over the years of raising our favorite little bugs, we’ve learned tons about them – the benefits of isopods, the cons of isopods, how they work, live, and play, and whether or not roly polys are good for the garden.
And one of the main questions our visitors have for us is just that, are roly polys good for the garden? Or are roly polys bad for the garden?- We get why you may be asking that, normally when you see a bug running through your garden, plants, and in your soil – it’s scary. But fear not, isopods are one of the best creatures you can find outdoors. Let’s explain why isopods are fantastic for your plants, and garden, and how they benefit you – and even your health.
Are pillbugs decomposers? : Isopods also known as pill bugs are decomposers, and tend to stick near rotting materials. Isopods found in the garden, are not problematic and can be ignored, isopods found in gardens typically have more benefits to your garden, than disadvantages, which will be explained further below.
Why Isopods Are Saving The World As We Speak
Isopods are decomposers, and scavengers, just like earthworms. 90 percent of an isopods life is spent eating decomposing materials such as leaf litter, compost, or rotting wood. Isopods rarely will eat a living plant unless starved, which is almost impossible. Isopods will almost never be found on a live plant – unless cleaning up rotting plant material. When rotting materials decompose they actually negatively effect the nitrogen in your garden soil, essentially locking up the nitrogen. Bacteria are fast at decomposing this material underground when moist, but these same bacteria can not decompose rotting materials in direct sunlight, partly due to the strong anti-bacterial UV waves, but also due to the lack of moisture. This also true with earthworms, they will decompose underground, but not on the top layer of soil, these creatures just can’t handle the stresses of being over-ground. Now that’s where isopods come into play, these little guys can survive on the top layer of soil, where bacterias, and earthworms can not. Meaning isopods decompose where other decomposers can not, giving them a completely non-competitive niche to worms, and good decomposing bacteria. Isopods allow this top layer to break down, allowing the nitrogen to be released, instead of being locked-up useless to your garden.
Meaning isopods actually benefit your garden, cleaning up decomposing materials, and releasing locked-up nitrogen, and leaving to find more decomposing food when no more can be found. In fact, the only way I can think of an isopod going for a live plant is if a live plant and a colony of isopods were planted/released in a desert, they then would have no other choice but to go for the plant for survival.
Without isopods the leaves left on the ground from millions of trees every year – would take years to decompose. Locking up nitrogen, and preventing plant growth. Without isopods I believe it’s very possible that our planet’s terrain would be extremely different than what we know and love.
We’ve actually tested this as well, we’ve used isopods in our terrariums with live plants – none were eaten, we’ve also added live plants to our isopod colonies – they ignored the live plants, thousands of isopods chose organic decomposing material over every live plant we’ve tested. Whether it was an edible plant or a poisonous plant. The only time we’ve seen an isopod walking on a live plant was to eat a rotting leaf or stem, and this wasn’t their first choice.
Isopods have so many benefits it’s hard to state them all on one page: but we’ve said it before on a separate article – the benefits of isopods – right here on Ficarro Farms!
Isopods Are Cleaning Up Our Toxic Materials For Us – Saving The Environment – And Improving Your Health
Recent studies have proven the benefits of isopods in a major way, isopods have been proven to pick up heavy metals from the foods they eat, meaning stuff goes in toxic, and good stuff comes out. Essentially they detoxify soil of all heavy metals that would be toxic for humans, this means when you see roly-polys in your garden, they are making your garden soil heavy metal-free, heavy metals that would have been absorbed by your plant’s roots. This keeps your vegetables clean, and healthy, as well as hays for animals. Nobody wants to eat lead-filled potatoes, so let your isopods stay free!
This also means you should not feed wild-caught isopods to your critters, or buy them from un-reputable dealers. We raise all of our isopods with this in mind, organically raised isopods are essentially a requirement when starting a new colony of isopods. An example of this was a review found on a Joshes Frogs Amazon Isopod product stating that their isopods made their reptile ill. Some sellers pick up random isopods from their yards (most likely exposed to pesticides and bug sprays) and ship them off, we would never do that. Ours are raised sustainably and organically in individual bins, only being fed organic foods – while making sure our isopods are toxin-free for your reptile.
So are roly polys good for your garden? – Yes not only are they good for your garden, but they are also amazing for it, don’t spray pesticides on them, just let them do their job and clean up your soil for you! If you have any questions, let us know down below, or use the contact us page! – Ficarro Farms