Many people find rollie pollies cute in some odd sort of way, but other than that, they find them to be quite useless. However, it appears that there is more to these little creatures than meets the eye. Rollie pollies, also known as wood lice or pill bugs, are technically crustaceans, more similar to crabs than insects.
Improve Soil Health and Expedite Composting
Aside from their unique look and other odd facts about them (for example, they don’t urinate), what makes rollie pollies so unique is the benefit that they can add to your organic garden. For starters, the critters love to feed on dead matter and will help clean up your garden. If you have enough pill bugs in your garden, this can quickly speed up the process of decomposition of dead plants. By breaking down the plants, rollie pollies help to quickly return organic matter to the soil for further digestion by bacteria and fungi, leaving the soil with necessary nitrates and phosphates.
They also help to circulate the soil; both of these qualities make pill bugs excellent additions to any gardener who utilizes compost. However, because these critters like to eat so much, don’t introduce them into your garden until there is plenty of expired material for them to snack on.
Rollie Pollies Remove Harmful Metals from the Soil
Perhaps even more impressive, pill bugs can also effectively remove heavy, harmful metals from the soil. Some of these harmful metals that can be removed include lead, cadmium, and arsenic. Because they can completely remove these toxins from the soil, rollie pollies also protect groundwater from harmful metals. If you live on land that utilizes a well, rollie pollies may be especially important to keep around to prevent these heavy metals from leaching into your well water.
Many natural gardeners buy whole colonies of pill bugs to help keep their garden soil healthy and expedite the process of composting. If you opt to go this route, just be sure that you have enough compost to keep them busy. The professionals at your local nursery or specialty garden store will likely be able to provide you with extra tips that will make this endeavor a successful one.