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Those cute little bugs that curl up into a little ball when you touch them. They are cute, and very effective in evolutionary design (you never see a mosquito fuck with a pillbug).

Did you know that without their antennae, pillbugs will not roll up? Just something interesting I found out in a misspent amoral youth. And to balance out karma, I also farmed and fed them, so don't hate me.

Some other interesting facts: they're actually crustaceans like lobsters which is probably why they like moist surroundings, and if you eat them alive, they'll climb up your esophagus until you wash them down. That last part is not personal knowledge.

"pill bug"


i
was once
an
exotic
rolly polly, and i would slide
down
the
neck
of
this giraffe because it was
my
slide and i would create
sand                   size
         dunes my        because
the rest were too big, and these were
mine.
in the middle of this desert i
made my own oasis with water
(for a day or so)
and i would climb up, curl
into
a
little ball in mid-air, after jumping
and do real cannonballs.

to a rhino, my oasis might as well have been a mirage
because it was useless to him
because it was my size
not his.
Land isopods are popularly called sowbugs, pillbugs or woodlice. They are those tiny, segmented things that roll up in a ball when disturbed, placing soft parts inside, hard shell outside.

These tiny things are crustaceans, a group which includes daphnia, fairy-shrimp, crayfish, hermit crabs, copepods, true crabs, and lobsters, among others. The foregoing list itself reveals the uniqueness of the pillbug: it is the most successful invader of dry land in the group. Most crustaceans are marine; a few inhabit fresh water, and even the land crab must return to water to breed. The humble pillbug alone in the group is able to carry out its entire life cycle on land.

This is a pretty neat trick, considering. First, the animal has gills, not lungs. Accordingly, the gills must be kept wet, or the pillbug suffocates. Any rain drop that falls is precious, and is routed immediately to the gills on the abdomen. The young develop in a water-filled brood pouch and emerge ready for terrestrial life. Common in temperate climates, these tiny beasts hide in moist places during the day and emerge at night to scavange on fallen leaves and other plant material. Where they are abundant, they are important in the formation of soil.

Rolling up in a ball is about their only defense, though some produce substances disagreeable to spiders, an important predator. Most are drab or earthy colored. There is, however, one European species with large red spots; it is conjectured that these spots confer some protection by similarity to black-widow spiders also common in the area.

Far from the sea but still breathing with gills and brooding their young in tiny drops of water, they are like tiny memories of ocean. Do they hear the surging of the waves when they sleep?

PHYLUM: Arthropoda, SUBPHYLUM: Crustacea, CLASS: Malacostraca, SUBCLASS: Eumalacostraca, SUPERORDER: Peracarida, ORDER: Isopoda.

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