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Pill Bug Lab


The study of animal behavior is ethology. There are two basic categories of animal behavior: learned behavior and innate, or inherited, behavior. Learned behavior is when animals acquire knowledge about their behavior through experience. Unlike learned behaviors, innate behavior exists naturally in animals, meaning that animals are born with some behaviors. In order to find a suitable environment, animals use orientation behaviors. The two types of orientation behaviors are taxis and kinesis. Taxis is an animal’s natural ability to know whether a stimulus is suitable or unsuitable.

Kinesis is defined as random movement that is not exhibited in response to a stimulus (Lab #12).

Isopods, otherwise known as pill bugs, are scavengers that feed on dead and decaying plants and animals. Pill bugs vary in color from dark grey to dark brown and are easily recognized by their oval, segmented bodies. They are the only crustaceans that have adapted to living their entire life on land (Potter). However, pill bugs still breathe through gills; therefore, they are restricted to live in environments with high humidity (“Isopod, Pillbug, Sow Bug Information”).

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Isopods tend to remain under objects during the day and are most active at night. They thrive in moist shaded places: under rocks, large fallen trees, and flower pots and in moist leaf litter and damp basements.

Experimental Hypothesis
If pill bugs are generally found in dark environments such as under flower pots, under logs, under welcome mats, and in piles of leaves, then they will prefer the dark side of the choice chamber rather than the light side of the chamber.

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Experimental Design

-2 sheets of filter paper
-choice chamber
-2 lids
-10 pill bugs

Collect filter paper, a choice chamber, 2 lids, a paintbrush, 10 pill bugs, a box, and a stopwatch. Set the materials up. First, place the choice chamber on the table. Next, position the filter in the bottom of the chamber. Then, place 5 pill bugs on each side of the chamber. Lastly, place the lids on top of each side. In order to create a dark atmosphere, place the box over one side of the choice chamber. This lab will be completed over the course of ten minutes. The main task is to observe the position of the pill bugs in two minute intervals using the stopwatch. Use the paintbrush to lead any stray pill bugs back into the choice chamber. Write down any observations and/or comments.

Cite this page

Pill Bug Lab. (2016, Mar 27). Retrieved from

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