Well, when you go to your yard, turn over a board lying there or a brick. Most of the time you’ll find pill bugs underneath those things. These grey-colored little creatures are known as woodlice or rollie pollies. They live in humid environments feeding on decaying matter. So they can be easily found in dark environments. Sometimes you may think they are bugs. But actually, they are not. They belong to the family of crustaceans and they close resemble shrimps and crabs, not insects. We usually don’t think about bugs like this. But actually, this one is one of the best soil protectors ever lived!
They have some special behaviors. When they feel threatened, they can roll up into a ball. They have seven sets of legs and they have a unique pocket called marsupium and they tote their eggs in it as kangaroos do. And also they do not pee. Instead of that, they trade gases through their gill-like structures.
Breeding and collecting pill bugs is an important tactic that helps in gardening and homesteading. These pill bugs have various microorganisms in their guts. Those organisms help the critter feed on dead organic matter. If you can release a mass quantity of pill bugs into a garden, you can be sure that dead plant matter will be properly broken down and will return to healthy soil. They accelerate the decomposition process by circulating the soil. This definitely helps to fertilize the soil.
Pill bugs play a vital role in the cycle of healthy plant life. They return organic matter to the soil allowing fungi, bacteria and protozoans to digest them furthermore. This procedure helps to produce a natural supply of phosphates, nitrates and other nutrients which plants need in their growing seasons.
These crustaceans have one exceptional feature. They can remove heavy metals from soil safely. So they are very important to clean soil pollutants such as cadmium, arsenic and lead. They take heavy metals like cadmium and lead and they are crystallized in their guts. And also these heavy metal toxins become spherical deposits. These pill bugs can survive in all contaminated sites other creatures cannot, as they have this special ability.
While they are stabilizing the soil, they also protect well water. They re-establish healthy soil and as they take in toxic metal irons, it prevents leaching those metal irons into groundwater!