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Differences Between Pill Bugs And Sow Bugs

Pill Bugs vs. Sow Bugs

Pill bugs and sow bugs, both members of the order Isopoda, are usually found in gardens and in landscaped areas as they feed most primarily on decaying matter. Although pill bugs and sow bugs play a significant role in the process of decomposition, they can also be regarded as soil pests, most specifically if their population becomes larger. Expect minor damages on the young plant tissue and seedlings when there are pill bugs and sow bugs present in the garden. Pill bugs and sow bugs also feed on young roots, seedlings, vegetables, and fruits that are growing and laying on the soil as well as leaves located at the lower parts of plants. These scavenger species will dash out when they feel disturbed, often hiding under rocks, leaves, garden debris, and any damp areas. On some occasions, pill bugs and sow bugs can also be minor nuisances and annoying pests in the home, but will not actually do any damage to one’s house. Pill bugs and sow bugs cannot survive in a house for more than a day or two if they do not find any damp areas to serve as their homes. Moreover, these two do not sting or bite humans and other animals at home and are not at all dangerous. Despite a long list of similar characteristics, sow bugs and pill bugs have significant differences, too.

Differences in appearance and behavior

One of the most obvious differences that separate pill bugs from sow bugs is thei behavior, especially when it comes to protecting and defending themselves. When agitated, disturbed, or simple poked, pill bugs can quickly roll up their entire body, as if forming a ball. This ability, referred to technically as conglobulating, is feasible for a pill bug because of plated segments. Because they are thick and they fit together perfectly, they allow Armadillium spp or pill bugs to roll into a ball. This protective behavior of pill bugs, which are also commonly called roly-polies, makes it possible for them to guard the softer and more vulnerable underside parts of their body.

On the other hand, sow bugs do not have this physical ability to roll themselves into a closed ball. Even though they look very similar to pill bugs, their bodies are less semi-circular and noticeably much flatter than the other crustacean species. Another difference of a sow bug from a pillbug can be noticed at the rear end part of its body, with a structure that looks like a tail protruding from that area.

Taxonomical Classification

Despite what most people and gardeners think, pill bugs and sow bugs are not insects. Although they are regarded as terrestrial species, they are part of the crustacean family. In fact, pill bugs and sow bugs are related to shrimps and lobsters. And this may come as a surprise, but these terrestrial crustaceans even possess gills.

The mouthparts of both the sow bugs and the pill bugs are used for masticating and grinding. During daylight, they spend their hours in moist and dark areas and when nighttime comes, they are active and eat decomposing organic matter.

Summary:

Pill bugs and sow bugs, both members of the order Isopoda, are usually found in gardens and in landscaped areas as they feed most primarily on decaying matter. Both are considered pests especially when their population becomes larger. Although they are terrestrial species, they are part of the crustacean family.

Pill bugs can quickly roll their entire body as if forming a ball when defending themselves. On the other hand, sow bugs do not have this physical ability to roll themselves into a closed ball.


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