Monday, June 29, 2009

Denizens Of The Compost Pile

The other day, before a heavy rain, I was out sweeping. A neighbor from the corner came by, a neighbor I have never met (its like that on this corner), and told me she is having a problem with some bugs, can I come and look. It was at this moment it began to rain. She had an umbrella. I said, okay without mentioning the rain because, well, I wanted to break the corner spell. Soaking now, she shows me her plants (never once covers me with her umbrella) and I see no bugs -everything looks quite good. Then she points out the culprits -pill bugs. I tell her there is nothing we can do about those, they barely bother plants anyway -just nip at young emerging seedlings from time to time. I tell her to collar the seedlings with something and I then move on to a drier place. But, it worked -now we wave.

These are the pill bugs (sow bug, armadillo bug, roly poly, doodle bug, wood louse).

They live happily in my compost pile, in wood piles, damp places -like under stones.

They require moisture and eat detritus and decaying plants.

I have none on my living plants, but lots in my compost pile a foot away.

This episode reminds me of a story from grad school. A professor who considered herself quite the gardener was having problems with pill bugs. She invited me over to check it out, but I felt -testing me. When I got there, no pill bugs could be found. She sent me to her compost bin. I've got my hands in her compost bin, looking for pill bugs when I realize her bin is filled with black widow spiders. Yow! Sorry, can't help. Pill bugs don't hurt anyhow, good luck.

Caught in the act. Wouldn't it be something to fly and have sex?

Slug enjoying the corner of the tomato planter. No harm done.


  1. Great pictures. I have a "caught in the act" picture of two flies. They didn't mind me pointing my camera about an inch off them.


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