Turns out rollie pollies (sometimes spelled rolly pollies) aren’t overly picky eaters. Rollie pollies, also called pillbugs, could survive mostly on soft, decaying matter, like grass and leaves, and still live between two and five years. They can also safely eat fish food, fresh vegetables, and even crumpled-up cardboard. See what I mean about not being picky?
But that’s not all. Rollies pollies munch on scat, including their own, and decaying matter, like flesh. Rollie pollies need copper to live, and each time the bugs defecate, they lose a little of it—hence the recycling process. This practice is called coprophagy. They have also been known to eat mulch. They tend to make their homes in wooded areas, particularly where there are plenty of damp leaves and other decaying vegetation, where food can easily be found. They can also be found living in piles of compost and areas containing mulch.
Rollie Pollies Eating Habits Aid in Decomposition
Rollie pollies are (like some beetles) also decomposers: They consume material from dead plants and animals and return essential nutrients back into the earth. They are considered beneficial decomposers because of this ability. However, they don’t always prefer to eat dead materials. Sometimes they’ll eat ripe fruit or vegetables that are in contact with soil. When plant growth is slow-moving during times of cooler temperatures, rollie pollies’ hunger may take over, and they may harm the lush roots or stems of certain plants found in the garden. This damage-causing behavior, however, seldom occurs. To some home dwellers’ dismay, some rollie polllies may make their way into buildings. This is especially true when vegetation runs alongside the house. Wet soil, due to poor drainage or other conditions, is also an invitation for rollie pollies to enter a house.
Lester Ehler, an entomology professor at the University of California, found that rollie pollies also eat the eggs of stink bugs. Stink bugs are known to cause crop damage; therefore, the rollie pollie may be considered an asset in insect control. According to Wayne Mathis, a retired entomologist from the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., some stink bugs are predatory and are also used in biocontrol of other insects. So between stink bugs and then rollie pollies, much insect control is occurring.
What Do Rollie Pollies Eat if Kept as a Pet?
If taken in as a pet, the rollie pollie might enjoy a wider array of foods. A petowner could fatten up the bug with fresh fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, lettuce or even apples skins. The bugs can also eat the skin of zucchinis and potatoes. Oatmeal is also an edible option for them. Crumpled egg cartons, in addition to cardboard, are also safe for them to eat, as long as there is no print on the material. Water is their beverage of choice. The bugs’ food can be spread out within their habitat once a week. If the rollie pollie is a pet, it’s important to remember that any of their uneaten food should be removed from their habitat before the food gets moldy.
With a menu like that, it’s no wonder rollie pollies survive as long as they do!