Study Finds ‘Rollie Pollies’ Remove Heavy Metals From Soil, Protects Groundwater

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You’ve probably picked a piece of wood or brick up which was lying in dirt for a while. If you have, then you most likely know about the small creatures with the black thick shell attached to the bottom of the object. These small creatures usually curl up in a ball when you poke them. Even if they seem really insignificant, they are much more useful than you know. The Pill Bugs have a great role to play in the environment, as well as your garden.

The creature’s scientific name is Armadillum Vulgare, however, they’re commonly known as the Pill Bugs. More people know them as “Rollie-Pollies” because of them rolling up into a ball whenever they feel the threat. Even though these creatures look like insects, they’re not. They’re actually crustaceans, which are related closer to shrimp or crabs.

These creatures are the only crustaceans that adapted to live on land entirely. Pill bugs do not excrete ammonia-laden waste from their bodies, meaning they do not urinate. However, they do eat feces – sometimes they eat even their own.

The way these creatures drink is by using a tube structure which is located on their behind. The Pill Bugs breathe through gills which allows them to live in moist places. When the gills dry out, these animals cannot breathe. They roll into a ball to keep whatever moisture they have on their gills so they’ll keep breathing.

Having Pill Bugs in your mature garden can be of benefit. These bugs are detrivores, meaning that they eat dead organic material like plant debris. When you decompose the plant debris, it will give nutrients to the soil which can help your garden grow.

Additionally, these pill bugs eat metal and heavy metal ions from the contaminated soil. This ability helps them survive in environments where other species can’t survive. They suck up the soil pollutants like cadmium, copper, zinc, arsenic, and lead and crystalize it inside their bodies.

Their ability makes them very useful in slag heaps and coal spoils. These pill bugs can also be used to reestablish healthy soils.

Pillbugs can also be very effective in protecting groundwater because all of the contaminants located in the soil have a chance to reach the groundwater. This is very important for us humans because the water that contains high amounts of these chemicals is not suitable for drinking.

These creatures are a vital addition to your garden, however, you must make a good environment so that they can do their magic. Do not worry about them eating your plants since they only feed on dead organic matter. However, they can sometimes eat plant’s roots and to avoid this, add organic matter to your soil frequently so that they can stay busy.

Even though Pill Bugs look prehistoric, they are the real heroes with cleaning up the soil and protecting our groundwater. By eating fungus, they might also play a big part in slowing climate change. Eating the fungus will decrease the carbon dioxide that’s released in the atmosphere.

Sources:

www.pnas.org

plantersplace.com

www.sciencedirect.com

www.mnn.com

entomology.ca.uky.edu

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