Rolly polly isopods (also known as pill bugs, isopods, roly polys, rolly pollies, or even sow bugs) are amazing creatures, living up to 3 years, and eating as they go creating nutrient-rich, organic soil. You might not realize just how much isopods such as rolly pollies contribute to the ground you walk on, in a matter of days under good conditions each can create their weight in soil (their poop).
The soil they make contains nutrients straight from the food in their diet! Meaning the better they eat the richer the soil. Having a rolly pollie colony for making nutrient-rich soil is very possible, and you’d be surprised by the results, and if kept for long enough your rolly pollies will reproduce (after 4-6 months) increasing the amount of soil they produce by 50 fold, although it is much easier to start with a larger population rather than a smaller population for goals such as that. But even if you only started with 50, if properly managed they could easily produce enough nutrient-rich fertilizer like soil to give at least a few plants a boost in production and health, if not more!
Just one word of caution, although rolly pollies are great decomposers they suck up nasty heavy metals, while this is great for your garden (reducing toxins) it isn’t so great for your pets or animals as feed, what I mean by this is a long term colony is a bad idea if you plan on feeding these guys to your animals, or pets, because every time you feed them you are introducing whatever toxins that were in the food you gave them. We raise our rolly pollies off of the plants we grew, organically, they have never been introduced to pesticides or dangerous chemicals, but the rolly pollies found in the wild could contain anything from lead to arsenic, or even your neighbor’s pesticides, and if they were introduced to any toxin it will be with them their whole life. Although this is an issue for wild isopods, it can also be a problem with isopods purchased from an unreputable dealer, ALWAYS make sure to get your isopods from a reputable dealer.
But don’t let that scare you off they are still great decomposers, pets, and feeders, in fact I feed my toads, and my leopard gecko rolly pollies as a major part of their diet, and they love them! And it’s great for them due to the way we raise them!
So whether they are “employees” cleaning your vivarium, as a pet, for your garden, or FOR your pets, go get started, isopods are awesome and you’ll love them before you know it!
Feel free to ask us anything in the comment section, we are here to help!