What Are Some Facts About the Potato Bug?

One fact about the potato bug is that this little animal is technically not a bug at all, but a member of the crustacean family. Biologically, potato bugs are closer to crayfish or shrimp than insects. Due to some of their unusual traits and behaviors, potato bugs have earned several nicknames including pill bugs, armadillo bugs, rolly-polly bugs and wood lice.

Like other marine creatures, the potato bug breathes through gill-like physical anatomy, although they are not able to live underwater. They are most comfortable in moist environments. Potato bugs are able to drink water with their rear ends. Water moves up through what is called a uropod, which is a tiny tube. After absorbing food and water, the bugs have a unique way of eliminating waste. All waste matter is naturally converted into ammonia gas, which is then excreted directly out of their exoskeleton, instead of the usual urination.

Potato bugs often roll up into a ball when touched, which is a natural defense mechanism that is triggered in the presence of a threat. Sometimes a potato bug may have a blue color, which indicates it has contracted a virus. However, it also has blue-colored blood that contains copper ions similar to other crustaceans.