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Pill Bugs Essay

The sow bug, also called the pill bug, is an isopod that does not have a wide range of items that it likes to eat. In the experiment we were trying to see how the pill bug reacted with certain man made substances and two substances that they would find in their everyday habitat. We tested ketchup, orange juice, sand, baking soda, flour and water. The pill bugs did not like the ketchup and orange juice I believe because of the strong acidic smell and it didn’t like the baking soda because of the texture. The pill bugs didn’t have a problem with the water and sand because those two are found in the everyday life. The data that we found did not fully support our hypothesis. The pill bugs are very simple isopods that reacted well with the sand because that substance is found in their habitat.

Introduction I

The pill bug is an isopod that is known by a few different names. Some people call them pill bugs, sow bugs, and potato bugs. Pill bugs are not insects they are isopods. The difference between the two can be found out by looking at the bugs side by side. Isopods have two antennas but insects have only one. Another difference is the amount of legs that isopods have. Isopods have seven sets of legs while most insects have only three sets. Pill bugs do not eat much but when they do eat, it is mainly dead or decaying animals. They also eat through wet paper towels and they will eat small holes into egg cartons.

Pill bugs do not live out in the open, but the mainly live under rocks and logs where the soil is moist and the air is warm. Another interesting thing about the pill bug is the way it smells things. They have a sense of smell in their feet. So if they want to smell something they will go up to the thing they want to smell and they will walk through it. Pill bugs are not fast, so when they are attacked they can’t run away from attackers. They have to protect themselves by curling up in a ball and becoming motionless; they play dead. We have to remember where pill bugs live is another defense mechanism because many predators cannot reach them under a rock or under a log. (Brusca 2003).

I hypothesized that because of where the pill bug lives, it would not eat some of the man-made substances that we used in our experiment because of their acidity. The pill bugs natural habitat does not include acidic substances.

Methods and Materials II

The substances that we used were water (control), ketchup, orange juice, baking soda, flour, and fine sand (control). We went and gathered up 2 different pill bugs and put them into a tray. We then put our first substance, baking soda, into the tray with the pill bug. Our hypothesis was that the pill bug would go up to the substance and play around with it because the texture of baking soda is similar to that of soil. After the pill bug played around with the baking soda, we tested the second pill bug. Once we finished with the baking soda, we removed both pill bugs and let them walk around on a wet paper towel.

The next substance we tested was flour. Flour and baking soda have a very similar texture so we thought that the pill bug would react the same way it did to the baking soda. The next substance was fine sand. We thought that the pill bugs would react very well with the sand because sand is a natural substance and is found in the everyday living environment of the pill bug. The next substance that we tested was ketchup. We thought that the ketchup would be a bad substance for the pill bug because of the acidic smell it has and the texture of the ketchup is very thick and sticky. The next substance was orange juice with pulp. We thought that the pill bug would not react well with the orange juice because again it is very acidic. The last substance was water. We thought that the pill bug would not have a problem with the water because water is certainly in their everyday environment.

Results III As we were going through our experiment, we had to change our thinking a little bit. When we first started, we were seeing if the pill bug was going up to the substance and playing around in it or not. Our thought process changed though that to whether or not the pill bug even went up to one of the six substances. The first substance was baking soda. The pill bug went up to the baking soda and stepped on the baking soda and then flinched like he didn’t like it very much. The pill bugs reacted the same way to both the flour and the baking soda. I don’t really know what made this happen, the only thing I can contribute to this is the texture of both substances is so similar that the pill bugs couldn’t tell the difference.

The next substance was fine sand. The pill bug reacted like the fine sand was not a foreign substance. The pill bug went up to it and walked through it numerous times and acted like the sand wasn’t even there. The next substance was orange juice. The pill bug didn’t even come close to the juice. This was when we had to change our thinking process because the pill bug completely avoided the substance. The next substance was ketchup. The pill bug went up the ketchup and stuck its antenna in it and then walked away and never came back. The last substance was water. The pill bug went up to the water and walked through it but it didn’t seem to like it very much. If you think about it, it probably doesn’t like water in its natural habitat because it can’t swim.

Discussion IV

Before we started the experiment, we made a hypothesis that the pill bugs would eat the baking soda and flour and it would not have a problem being in the presence of the sand. The first part of our hypothesis was not completely right. The pill bugs did not eat any of the substance and once they smelled the baking soda and flour, they didn’t want anything to do with the two substances. The part that was right was when we said that the pill bugs wouldn’t have a problem with being in the presence of the sand. As for the other three substances, we said that the pill bugs would not eat the ketchup and the orange juice because of their acidity; we were right, the pill bugs didn’t want anything to do with those two substances. When it came to the water, we said that the pill bugs would not mind the water because the water is a natural substance. We were right, the pill bugs didn’t mind the water and they did not react to the water the same way they did to the sand.

Conclusion V In conclusion, the pill bugs only liked the sand because it was the substance most similar to their current environment.


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