Rolypilldoodlepolysowdillo Bugs

If you want evidence that Midgard is sloppily run and in dire need of someone strong and organized to whip things into shape, there is this creature:

Pill-bug_doodle-bug_potato-bug

It is a small, armored invertebrate that has more names than Thor has boring war stories that begin, ” No lie–there I was…”  Roly-poly, pillbug, doodlebug, sowbug, armadillo beetle, etc.  Most of these names refer to the beast’s habit of rolling up into a tight little ball when danger threatens.  Most of these names are stupid, because it is not related to armadillos, it has nothing to do with mother pigs, it does not doodle, and it is most definitely NOT a bug.  It is an isopod, crustacean.  Unlike its lobstery cousins, however, it is not delightful when added to macaroni and cheese.  Do not ask me how I know.

The biology students have been asked to bring these creatures to class this week for use in next week’s lab.  The idea is to set up some simple experiments about habitat preference, offering the creatures choices between different temperatures, moisture levels, pH ranges, foodstuffs, and habitat substrates.  I am all for Science, so Sigyn and I are examining the set-up.

The Prep Staff have created a terrarium in which to house the pillrolydoodles until class ti–   Sigyn, how—?

pillbugs-tank

Sigh.  Hang on, I’ll get you out.  But first–do you prefer the dry leaf litter or the moist bark chips?  Did you sample the bits of raw potato?

One hundred of these sowdillopillpolys will be tagged with colored nail polish and released into the terrarium, twenty five of each color in each of the four habitat zones.  At the end of the experiment, the students will tally up the creatures and see if they demonstrated any habitat preferences.

First, we have to round up a hundred armadoodlepolybugs.

pillbugs-roundup

This is not as easy as you might think.  They are surprisingly quick and nimble, quite difficult to catch, even in a round container.  Hold STILL, you worthless, spineless, detritivores!

Next we have to mark them, which I am letting the human female do.  This is a good color.  Use this.

pillbugs-green

Ugh!  You can see by all the daubs and splattles that she made rather a poor job of it.  Yes, it is tricky painting moving targets who evince a Strong Aversion to being goopellated, but a left-handed baboon with the palsy could have done a neater job.  Let’s see if she does any better with the yellow…

pillbugs-yellow

Um, that would be a “No.”  And I think she drowned a couple in that screaming yellow lacquer.

In the end, we have enough decorated isodoodledillos and into the terrarium they go.  It’s all very Scientific, with Controls and Hypotheses and Null Hypotheses and Data Points.  My hypothesis is that, since I had a little chat with the bugbeetlepills about the dangers of a vegan diet, when it comes time to sift through the bark and gravel and soil, the students will find that half of the armarolysowpods have eaten the other half.

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2 comments

  1. This planet is surely in dire straights when folks are paying $10,000 a semester to observe painted rolly-pollies!
    Just go to a bar for an evening and observe drunk people for a bar tab of $45. I bet you’d learn more from that 😉

  2. It is true–bar patrons in college towns tend to be brightly colored, uncoordinated, and aimless in their meanderings. I have conducted a study of Midgardian bar denizens and habitue’s. I have determined that they cannot resist what is called a Bar Bet. With my magical ability to make things balance, change color, disappear, etc., I can turn an hour’s putting up with louts painfully reminiscent of my brother Thor and his cronies into as many free drinks as I desire, as well a not insignificant amount of pocket money. Midgardian alcohol, though–bleargh.

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