Mention crustaceans and most of us think of aquatic creatures such as lobsters, crabs, shrimp and crayfish. But, unless you reside in an arid environment, you have many crustaceans in your own backyard.
Pill bugs, known affectionately as rollie pollies, have segmented bodies like their aquatic cousins but have the unique ability to curl into a tight sphere when threatened. Since they, like other crustaceans, breathe through gills, they must remain in moist areas and are typically found beneath logs, rocks, leaf litter or man-made structures; they might also be encounterd in the moist recesses of your garage or basement. Pill bugs feed on a variety of organic matter, such as rotting vegetation and carrion, and thus play an important role in recycling nutrients; while they also feed on living plants, they are rarely a problem for gardeners.
After mating, the female pill bug produces up to a hundred eggs or more, which are carried in a brood pouch for almost a month. Once these eggs hatch, the tiny offspring, miniature replicas of the adult are on their own; each will molt at least five times before reaching adult size and, unless consumed by birds, toads, spiders or other predators, may inhabit our yard for up to three years.