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Pillbugs and Sowbugs (Order Isopoda)
(Subphylum: Crustacea; Class: Malacostraca)
Invertebrates Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
Common Pillbug (Armadillidium vulgare)

General: Pillbugs and Sowbugs (Order: Isopoda) are small terrestrial creatures of damp places with a hinged exoskeleton like an armadillo. Isopods have seven pairs of legs and two pairs of antennae (one large, one small).

Terrestrial isopods usually are inactive during the day and hide under things to stay cool and reduce water loss. At night, they come out to feed on decaying organic matter such as garden mulch, grass clippings, and compost.

Pillbugs are recognized by their ability to roll up into a tight ball (a defensive position), and they lack obvious tails. Sowbugs lack the ability to roll up into a tight ball, but they have two tails.

Common Pillbug (Armadillidium vulgare) Pillbugs; note the ability to roll up into a tightly closed ball (this one is starting to open up) and the lack of tails.
sowbug Sowbugs; note the two tails. Sowbugs can roll up a little, but not into a tight ball.

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 100320

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