Benefits Of Isopods – 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!
A Friendly Warning – 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 in the food you’ve been feeding your colony. 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!
Below I’ve included some facts, info, and a basic starting care guide.
Some Live Isopod Facts –
Isopod General Info and Facts
Isopods are pretty hardy critters, found world-wide Armadillidium vulgare are semi-tropical meaning they can thrive in most environments – unlike some other species that require
more specific care sheets.
Isopoda – also known as isopods (the order this species is in), these critters are crustaceans and are actually
more related to shrimp than any of the other insects you find them around. There are species found in the water,
sea, and land – this article will specifically talking about land species.
Most species are de-composers, although some may be grazers, or even (although rare) predators.
Like most crustaceans and unlike most land insects – isopods breath using modified gills, using moisture in their
environment and air to breathe. They can and will drown if submerged underwater.
Are roly polys good for the garden? (Armidillidium vulgare Fun-Fact) – Yes, roly polys are fine for gardens, you will never see them eating any of your vegetables or fruit unless no other source of food is available (which is almost impossible), they would much prefer eating the rotting stuff on the dirt that could be bothering you. Why not leave them be and let them clean up for you!
A Simple Starting Guide to Caring For Your Armidillidium vulgare:
1. Always start off organic, you do not want a colony of tainted isopods, especially if they are to be used as feeders.
2. Choose an aquarium, vivarium, or cage for your new pet isopods, in most cases, they do well as bio-active tank cleanup crews meaning they will clean your pets dirty cage and prevent the spread of bacteria or viruses, so feel free to add them to your current pet’s cage, especially if that pet is a reptile (although the reptile may eat them). Make sure they will have enough space, a 10-gallon tank fits up to 55 isopods, sometimes more depending on the environment.
3. When choosing the species you are looking for make sure to note any specific care requirements. This is necessary for their survival, especially for exotic species.
3. Add clean oak leaves, an inch layer of leaves even if in just one spot will make your isopods feel at home, and provide necessary nutrients.
4. After adding your new critters to their home, make sure to mist it with filtered water daily, or every other day. Enclosing the environment lessens the amount of moisture they require – but remember if they dry out completely, they will perish.
5. Occasionally give them food, or treats, make sure to take it out if it molds, and don’t worry about feeding them extremely often as they most likely have more than one food source to eat from in most tank or cage situations.
Food, water, moisture, that’s all it takes for a successful isopod colony. If taken care of they will breed by themselves and within 3-4 months, your colony will grow by massive amounts – exponentially. Some species breed quicker than others, but some people find that as an issue as most cages have limited space. Keep this in mind when purchasing a bulk amount of isopods, or when keeping a colony for a long time period – take notes of your colony’s population as time goes by to prevent overpopulation – when your isopod’s colony becomes over-populated consider splitting your colony in half, starting a separate colony.