Sow Bugs (My Favorite "insect") (The stuff on this webpage was mentioned on page 145 in my book)

Sow bugs are my favorite “insects,” mainly because they are not insects. They are actually crustaceans, like lobster and shrimp. Here’s what they look like, just in case you don’t know what a sow bug is.

drawing of two sow bugs, one crawling and one curled into a ball

Sow bug is the name I learned, but in science we learned there lots of other names for the same non-insect: roly-poly, pill bug, woodlouse, etc. If you have other names or know something really interesting about them, please comment below.

I did a report on sow bugs. Here it is.

A typed report on sow bugs. At the top is a teacher's hand written notes: "A - good work! Please remember to take your box of sow bugs home!" Report text: "Sow Bugs Sow bugs are not insects even though they crawl around and have lots of lets. They are crustaceans. Most crustaceans, like lobsters in the Atlantic Ocean near Gloucester, live in water, but sow bugs live on land. Sow bugs have three body parts: head, thorax (chest) and abdomen (belly). They have two eyes, seven pairs of legs, and are colored from dark gray to light brownish. (Some sites on the internet say there are white sow bugs, but I have not been able to find pictures of that.) Like other crustaceans, sow bugs do not have lungs. They breathe with gills, so they have to live where it is moist or watery, like under rocks or logs, in piles of damp leaves, or in wet crevices. They are most active at night, so the sun won't dry them out. Sow bugs roll up into a ball when disturbed. That's why some people call them pill bugs. They hatch from eggs (up to 100) that the females carry in pouches on their abdomens. Baby sow bugs look like adults except smaller. As they grow, they shed their shells several times and grow new, larger shells. Sow bugs are scavengers. They eat dead plants or animals. They can also be a pest in gardens because they sometimes eat live plants. Phylum, Arthropoda; Class, Malacostraca; Order, Isopoda

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Mystery, mice, and money at the end of fifth grade!

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Comments from my Readers & Friends

  1. I live in Illinois and my whole class calls them roly-polies. I hunt for them with my friends at recess and put them in a Fiji water bottle.

  2. Actually, Cheesie. I’m pretty sure that sow bugs and pill bugs are two different types of isopods!

    1. Very cool site, Allison. I told my Granpa and he marked up lots of dollar bills and logged them onto He likes doing it. Thanks.

  3. I had NO idea how many names for sowbugs there are, here are a handful I found: Boat Builder, Carpenter, Cafner, Doodlebug, Roll Up Bug, Chuggypig, Chucky Pig, and 2 names I think you will enjoy, Cheeselog and Cheesy bug. (Nice job on your report! And your teacher let you bring to class a box of Sow Bugs?!?!?!)

  4. We always called them potato bugs. My fear and/or revulsion at any particular kind of crawly thing is usually in direct proportion to the number of legs it has. Anything with 4 to 6 legs, common bug spray will do. Up to 8 legs, I need hairspray so that I don’t have to remove the corpse until it’s safely encased in shellac. Regardless of the size of the bug, if it has over 10 legs, I require an army boot, two clothes pins, and a complex system of weights and pulleys.

    1. Haha! You are hysterical. My mom hates crawlies, too. But she won’t kill them. She just screams for Dad.

  5. My family calls them potato bugs. I have no idea whatsoever, why.
    P.S I love Cheesie Mack!!!! Great Story.

    1. Lots of people call them potato bugs. I don’t know why either. They certainly do NOT look like little potatoes…and they do not eat potatoes or live inside them. It’s a mystery.

  6. i found a nest of littile baby sow bugs under a steping stone 🙂 i love sow bugs , they are so cute !

  7. Chessie I wanted to tell you something I made up. Sow bugs
    are the sisters of sows [pigs]

  8. I tried to keep sow bugs as a pet when I was 5. They lasted 16 days. Pretty good for a sow bug!

  9. I call sow bugs roly-polies and another name for them can be shield bugs because thier shell is like a shield.

  10. My mom says that she used to call them potato bugs. Another thing to call them are pill bugs. They are my FAVORITE kind of bug! 🙂

  11. Sometimes I call it a potatoe bug. But I mainly use rollypolly.
    By the way I LOVE your book I picked it up last night and I am on pg 145. My goal’s to finish it tonight!

    1. Very good name.
      Did you know Rounders is the name of a very old game that was one of the games that baseball was based on?

  12. I call “sow bugs” roly-polies and I have a funny story about them.
    When I was little, I saw a mother roly poly and when she was crawling she was leaving behind white, little baby roly-polies. I showed my mom and she got all excited about how the roly-poly was giving “live birth”. Well, we looked it up and found out about the mothers carrying around their babies in pouches. My mom was very embarrassed.

  13. What is the big deal about sow bugs? Thanks for the report cheesie. [I put your name on it]

  14. I’ve actually never heard the term, sow bug, but I usualy just call em’ rolly pollys!

  15. I call them potato bugs or rolypolys rock’n’rollys in Ohio near Cleveland. Do u have special names where u come from

    1. Most kids here call them pill bugs, but I call them sow bugs because that’s what Granpa taught me when I was little.

  16. i live in south carolina and i usually call them ‘roly poly’ or ‘pill bug’. i have never heard of the saying ‘sow bugs’.

    1. I am coming to South Carolina next year to visit schools. Have your teacher contact me. Maybe I’ll could come to your school!

  17. At Wines Elementary School, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we call them armadillo bugs!

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