The Unknown Talents of the Rolly Pollie

We’ve all seen them. More than likely you’ve played with them as a kid. Maybe your parents warned you that they are dirty and covered in germs and viruses. 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 the above mentioned marsupium. 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.”

 A few attributes associated with rolly pollie insect totems are innocence, fun, and purity; hence the ability to purify soil. 🌏

Its interesting that their entomological name is Armadillidium Vulgare – resembling Armadillos that also roll into a tight protective ball. Vulgaris doesn’t necessarily mean the bug has a potty-mouth, Vulgaris translates to ordinary, or common, meaning this species is the most common type of Armadillidium.

What I admire about rolly-pollies is that like everything organic and made out of Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen, is we follow our instincts and in the process naturally fall into the places we need to be throughout life to be of benefit to other species. The role of Armadillidium Vulgare, like the honey bee, plays an extra special role and is absolutely a keystone species; in that the role these beings participate in is vital to the survival of many other plants, insects, and animals and ensures an optimally healthy ecosystem.