Geographical Range Worldwide, mainly in temperate regions
Habitat Various habitats, including woodlands, marshes, gardens, and lawns
Scientific Name Suborder: Oniscoidea
Conservation Status Not listed by IUCN

What's in a name? If you don't like the term "louse" (and who would?), you can call this little animal by its other names: pillbug, sow bug or roly-poly.

Wood lice are crustaceans that live on the land. Some species live at the edge of the sea or in marshes. Other types have colonized drier land. They spend their lives beneath stones, in tree bark, or in leaf mold -- locations that help keep the wood lice from drying out. The little animals feed on algae, fungi, moss, bark, and any decaying plant or animal matter.

Some types of wood lice -- such as pillbugs -- have a well-known habit: they can roll into a nearly perfect little ball. (The term "pillbug" stems from their resemblance to pills). They do this primarily to keep from drying out, but it also serves to protect them from predators.

Don't make the mistake of thinking the wood louse is an insect -- it's not. (It's a crustacean, remember?). One way to remind yourself is to count its legs: you'll usually find it has seven pairs -- far more than the six legs that insects have.