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Insect Activities

Pill Bug and Isopod Home Activities

Find pill bugs underneath stones
Find pill bugs underneath stones

Pill bugs, also known as roly-polies and isopods, live in many unusual places. Check under rocks, bushes and in the dirt to see if you can locate a few. Find, observe and experiment with this pill bug activity!

What You'll Need:

  • Pill bugs
  • Net
  • Jar
  • Paper plate
  • Magnifying glass

HOW TO FIND PILL BUGS:Step 1: Turn over a stone and see if pill bugs are underneath. Pill bugs, about the size of a fingernail, like dark, moist places. An oval shell covers them, and they have 7 pairs of legs.



Step 2: Scoop up a pill bug with your net or hands and place it in a jar.Step 3: Watch and experiment with the pill bug. Put it on the paper plate. Examine it with a magnifying glass. Count its legs. Touch it, and see what it does.

What Happened?

Pill bugs have 7 pairs of legs and breathe from gills. They have 2 main responses when they are disturbed: Some run, while others curl into a ball. When they curl up, their hard outer shells protect them from danger.

Pill bugs are also called potato bugs, wood lice, and roly-polies. Scientists call them isopods. You can create a home where they can reproduce.

What You'll Need:

  • Large plastic bowl with lid
  • Potting soil
  • Pushpin
  • Water
  • Stones
  • Potato Slices


Step 1: Get a large plastic bowl with a lid.

Step 2: Fill it 3/4 of the way with potting soil. Moisten the soil.

Step 3: Put stones on top of the soil.

Step 4: Using a pushpin, add small ventilation holes in the lid.

Step 5: Add a slice of potato and introduce 4 or 5 isopods.

Keep the soil moist, and add a slice of potato every week. Isopods should thrive in this environment. After a couple of months, you may ­notice little roly-polies running around.

Safety Tips

Look at the picture of the pill bug before you go searching. Pill bugs are harmless, but other organisms, such as millipedes, can bite. An adult should make holes in the plastic lid.

Use a cutting board so you do not damage furniture or countertops. Slices of potato should be cut only with the assistance of an adult.

Did you know that crickets molt? Learn how to make your very own cricket molting museum on the next page.

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