(or, "What are these shrimps doing in my basement?")
This household insect isn't really an insect at all. That cute, familiar roly poly (they're also called woodlice, pill bugs or doodle bugs) is actually a "terrestrial crustacean" -- which means it's really a kind of shrimp or crab that has evolved to live on land. Pretty cool! And it's also definitely NOT something to worry about if you find one in your home.
Household Bug or Household Crab?
|"Curled Woodlouse" by Sanjay Acharya - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Curled_Woodlouse.jpg#/media/File:Curled_Woodlouse.jpg|
Roly Polies are animals in the family Armadillidiidae, which kind of gives a clue as to their special talent -- like an armadillo and some other creatures, they can roll up into a ball. These little guys, however, have made it into an art form, rolling into a nearly perfect sphere that rolls around in your hand like a little bead. Kids have loved playing with these harmless animals for centuries. Some people have kept them as pets, and in good conditions they can live for up to three years.
So are those roly poly pill-bugs actually a household pest?
It's always good to know who you're sharing your home with, and this blog tries to put things into perspective. So for what it's worth, NO, woodlice are not a problem for homeowners. They eat gross stuff like bug poop, mold, and crumbs. Unless you were saving that last little bit of dried booger for dessert, the roly-polies in your house are nothing at all to worry about.
|"Pillbug (17152476067)" by Brian Gratwicke from DC, USA - Pillbug. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pillbug_(17152476067).jpg#/media/File:Pillbug_(17152476067).jpg|
Do Roly Polies Bite?
And, finally, in case it isn't already screamingly obvious, NO, these little mini-shrimps are completely harmless. So pick them up, give them a little shake, and watch them roll around like the cute little balls of fun they are.
Do Centipedes Bite?
Unlike woodlice, centipedes CAN bite. Read more here!