The Unknown Talents of the Rolly Pollie

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We’ve all seen them. More than likely you’ve played with them as a kid. I know my niece has a habit of picking them up and pointing out their adorable features, only to relocate them to a different part of the yard. I always wonder what goes through the mind of a Pillbug or Rolly-Pollie as it’s being moved the equivalent distance of an entire county in a matter of seconds. Perhaps a sense of exhilaration coupled with terror. Depending on the final destination, maybe gratitude for helping it along its journey to the nearest moist area.

(NaturalNews) “What’s interesting about these critters is that they are not bugs at all. They are crustaceans and more closely resemble crabs and shrimp, not insects. They are characterized by their ability to roll up into a ball when they feel threatened. Another unique feature is that they have seven pairs of legs. They also act like kangaroos, toting their eggs around with them in a special pouch called a marsupium, located on the pillbug’s underside. Even stranger, they don’t urinate. Instead, they exchange gases through gill-like structures.”

Some other facts about Armadillidium vulgare…

The female can lay up to 100 eggs and store them in a pouch. They grow by molting or shedding their skin and have a three year life expectancy. “One very unique quality that these crustaceans possess is their ability to safely remove heavy metals from soil. For this reason, they are an important tool for cleaning up soil contaminated with pollutants like lead, cadmium and arsenic. In coal spoils and slag heaps, pill bugs come in handy. They take in heavy metals like lead and cadmium and crystallize these ions in their guts. The heavy metal toxins are then made into spherical deposits in the mid gut. With this special cleanup property, pill bugs survive where most creatures can’t, in the most contaminated sites. The magic of the pill bugs helps reestablish healthy soil and prevents toxic metal ions from leaching into the groundwater. This means pill bugs are also protecting well water from becoming contaminated while stabilizing soils.”

What I admire about rolly-pollies is that like all nature, they live their whole lives just following their instincts and in the process, are a huge benefit to humanity and all other life, especially the plant kingdom. It’s another example of intelligent creation, how one creature has a special niche in the ecosystem and doesn’t ask for anything in return because to do otherwise would be unnatural to it’s evolutionary hard-wiring and way of being.

An example of an early crustacean, the ancestors of rolly pollies / pill bugs

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