SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

What do you call a woodlouse?

Discussion started on

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region britishisles
Woodlice feature heavily in my new book... well, okay, not heavily, but they're in there and I need to know what to call the bloomin' things. In the UK, we say woodlice; I've heard them called pill bugs, doodlebugs and roly polies in the US. My story is based in the state of NY, so what do people say there? Roly polies?


THANK YOU!
#1 - June 21, 2014, 11:37 AM

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region midatlantic
In Virginia, I grew up calling them potato bugs.  But that's not what you asked.
#2 - June 21, 2014, 12:28 PM
VAMPIRINA BALLERINA series (Disney-Hyperion)
SUNNY'S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY (Abrams)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

Emeritus
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region cencal
We call them sow bugs in California (at least in my neck of the woods). But I think I've heard "pill bugs" most often.
#3 - June 21, 2014, 12:35 PM
www.ellenjackson.net
PICKY EATERS
OCTOPUSES ONE TO TEN
THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE
THE BALLAD OF BOOSTER BOGG
BEASTLY BABIES
TOOLING AROUND

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region britishisles
Thanks! I bet there's local variation as well... maybe I'll just have to find a way to incorporate the fact that there are different names. One person read it and didn't know what I was referring to (when I called them woodlice). Hmmm.
#4 - June 21, 2014, 12:46 PM

Trench Bunny Caretaker
Member
Poster Plus
Wood bugs here in BC. :)

I found a website that says they're called wood lice in the Eastern States. Rolies Polies in the Midwest. Sowbugs in the West.

You probably already know this, but there are two types. The ones that roll up into a ball (also called pillbugs) and those that don't. We have both here.

Hopefully someone from New York can tell you what they're actually called there.

I love woodbugs. One of my favourite insects. ;)

Hope that helps!

Rue
#5 - June 21, 2014, 12:55 PM
WIP: ETBs 10687/35000 (30.5%)
WIP: IWWP 12045/35000 (34.4%)

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region westcentny
I'm from western NY and we always called them potato bugs.
#6 - June 21, 2014, 01:01 PM
BLACKOUT -- available now
DESERTED -- available now
SISTERS DON'T TELL -- available now
www.deenalipomi.com

Poster
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region ohiocensouth
I call it "yuck!" :-)
#7 - June 21, 2014, 01:15 PM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region wwa
For what it's worth, I think it would be pretty easy to work in multiple names. In Seattle where I grew up, I called them potato bugs, but I had friends who called them pill bugs and roly polies. Seattle is an area with a lot of transplants from other parts of the country--hardly any of my friends were born in Seattle, as I was--so it's probably natural that many names are in use here.


If you have characters in your story that have moved from different places, you could easily work in different names. Figuring out what people in those places call those bugs will be another matter. :)
#8 - June 21, 2014, 01:45 PM
Twitter: @MelissaKoosmann

Member
Poster Plus
I'm in Eastern NY and we've always called them roly polies.
#9 - June 21, 2014, 01:53 PM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region easternny
I really liked Roly-polies, aka Pill Bugs, UNTIL JUST NOW WHEN I FOUND OUT THEY HAD THESE AWFUL OTHER NAMES.

*cries forever*
#10 - June 21, 2014, 01:53 PM
twitter: @literaticat
ask the agent: http://literaticat.tumblr.com/ask

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region epa
Until recently, I never realized what woodlice were the same little gray guys we find under rocks  -- it's kind of an ugly name compared to rolypoly! In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, we call them variously rolypoly or pill bug. My kids were making rolypoly houses the other day and a friend didn't know what that meant -- she is from New Hampshire where potato bug was the usual.

Interesting rolypoly fact: They are not insects but crustaceans -- one of the few terrestrials kinds. Apparently they do not taste as good as shrimps, lobsters, and crabs though.
#11 - June 21, 2014, 01:55 PM
Kell Andrews
www.kellandrews.com
Twitter @kellandrewsPA

THE BOOK DRAGON, Sterling, October 2, 2018
MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE, Sterling, 2016

Emeritus
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region newengland
I grew up calling them woodlice in Massachusetts...occasionally would hear pill bug.
#12 - June 21, 2014, 02:18 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com

Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region dakotas
Roly polies are potato bugs?? I had no idea!
#13 - June 21, 2014, 04:08 PM

I grew up in Western Massachusetts and Vermont, and we called them pill bugs and sometimes woodlice. Potatoe bug is what we sometimes called potatoe beetles.
 
I don't mind spiders or snakes, but pill bugs gross me out big time. 
#14 - June 21, 2014, 04:31 PM
https://twitter.com/PatEsden
http://patesden.com/
A HOLD ON ME (Dark Heart series #1) coming from Kensington Books, staring March 2016

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region epa
See, if you call them rolypolies, they are cute! If you call them woodlice, they are gross. Shakespeare was wrong about names.
#15 - June 21, 2014, 04:47 PM
Kell Andrews
www.kellandrews.com
Twitter @kellandrewsPA

THE BOOK DRAGON, Sterling, October 2, 2018
MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE, Sterling, 2016

Member
Poster Plus
Oh, thanks for that, I have to go to bed tonight thinking about eating Roly polys. (imagine a cute emoticon here...)


btw...there seem to be as many ways to spell this guy as there are posts!
#16 - June 21, 2014, 05:51 PM
« Last Edit: June 21, 2014, 05:54 PM by TH »

Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region wisconsin
The really cool thing about woodlice, by whatever name, is that they're really mini crustaceans, not insects. If you think of them as lobster cousins it takes away a lot of the ugh factor (of course, it could go the other way if you start thinking of lobsters as cousins of pillbugs...)

A blog I really enjoy is The Backyard Arthropod Project, kept by Tim Eisle, a metallurgist who teaches at a college on the UP in Michigan and must have the coolest family. The blog is here: http://somethingscrawlinginmyhair.com/about/

Links to his entries on woodlice and related are here:
http://somethingscrawlinginmyhair.com/2008/02/16/pillbug-armadillidium/
http://somethingscrawlinginmyhair.com/2007/03/24/woodlice/
http://somethingscrawlinginmyhair.com/2009/07/04/library-bug-hunt-part-2-yellow-spotted-woodlouse-and-other-crawling-things/


#17 - June 21, 2014, 06:24 PM

Trench Bunny Caretaker
Member
Poster Plus
Question: are they still roly polies if they don't roll up in a ball?

I did actually know they're crustaceans, even though I called them insects.  :oops

We used to have wood bug races when we were kids. You can just imagine how that went. ;)

Rue
#18 - June 21, 2014, 06:32 PM
WIP: ETBs 10687/35000 (30.5%)
WIP: IWWP 12045/35000 (34.4%)

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region britishisles
Apparently they're only called roly polies if they can roll up. There's one particular type of woodlouse that can roll up but the rest can't. I like the Spanish word for them best - cochinillas. Sounds like a kind of fancy sweet shell-shaped pastry to me!


As for cuteness, my six-year-old LOVES them. We've spent a lot of time figuring out how to keep them alive... there have been many, many deaths along the way. The secret is water. Even if they have food, they die very quickly in a non-moist environment. We had been unintentionally allowing our little grey pets to die of dehydration!


Another interesting fact: the mum woodlouse keeps the eggs in a kind of kangaroo-style pouch, then the babies hatch and she hangs around to keep an eye on them until they become adults. Somehow they didn't strike me as particularly maternal creatures... but there you go!




#19 - June 21, 2014, 09:43 PM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region britishisles
PS Kell, what does a roly poly house look like? Intrigued.


And I forgot to say thank you for all the other responses! I'm going to incorporate the lack of one definitive common name into the storyline somehow...
#20 - June 21, 2014, 09:45 PM

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region epa
Not all pill bugs roll up but we call them all rolypolies here.

A rolypoly house involves a shoebox, dirt, rocks, transplanted weeds, acorn beds, and rolypolies. It stays outside of course -- why would you put a house inside another house?
#21 - June 22, 2014, 04:34 AM
Kell Andrews
www.kellandrews.com
Twitter @kellandrewsPA

THE BOOK DRAGON, Sterling, October 2, 2018
MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE, Sterling, 2016

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region epa
Roly polies are cute. Woodlice are disgusting. Kell was right. Shakespeare was wrong.

 :crazy
#22 - June 22, 2014, 06:10 AM

Member
Poster Plus
In PA, NC, SD, VA & CA, I've only heard them as "roly polies"--except by my grandmother & her generation who all called them pill bugs.   


In rural PA, potato bugs were the pests that ate the potato plants in our garden . . . which were NOT the same bug as a woodlouse.



#23 - June 28, 2014, 12:55 PM

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region arizona
Definitely not potato bugs -- those are the ones that we had to pick off the potato plants to feed to the chickens. Roly Polies.
#24 - June 28, 2014, 04:18 PM
www.Facebook.com/MythRiderBook
- 4RV Publishing, April 2015
NO MORE MR. DAWDLE (Caramel Tree, April 2015)
UNGLUED (Caramel Tree, June 2015)

I'm from central upstate New York. If it's the bug I think you're talking about...they're whirly bugs--but that term might only apply to my specific area of the boondocks.

If you could find the scientific name of the bug to which you're referring, we could look at a picture and know if we're all on the same page (same bug). Only a potato bug is a potato bug...as far as a potato bug is concerned, anyway.

There's likely different species in different ranges, but if you looked up the bug by region of interest....
#25 - June 28, 2014, 05:41 PM
« Last Edit: June 28, 2014, 05:44 PM by Arona »
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Einstein.

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
I'm on Long Island in NY. We only call the ones that roll up Roly Polies. The ones that don't are Pill Bugs. We used to turn them over to see. When they're rolled up, they're less gross. You can pick them up and toss them outside where they belong. I never heard them called anything else until I read this thread.
#26 - June 30, 2014, 08:30 AM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region britishisles
Mine don't need to roll up but they could roll up (I don't need it to be that specific), so I think I'll go with pill bugs and then put in a part that allows for other names to be mentioned. They could be any type of woodlouse, as long as they exist in NY state, which from what I can gather includes several different species. That's fine, though, as long as people understand the creature that I'm referring to!


I found this while researching the name. [size=78%]http://mentalfloss.com/article/50835/20-regional-names-woodlice[/size][/size][size=78%] I still think doodle bug is the best name. The worst name, aside from woodlouse, has to be 'crunchy bats.' I have no idea who calls them that in England, I have never heard that, but eeewww. [/size]



#27 - June 30, 2014, 10:46 AM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region midsouth
What an amazing list, Fran.  I'm from KY and I grew up calling them 'curly bugs,' but I'm guessing that was either a very localized name or maybe even just a family name.  As an adult, I've heard them called roly polies, pill bugs, and sow bugs. I would always associate potato bugs with potato beetles, so I'm surprised that name was common to several people posting here.

Debbie, I was also surprised to hear you say that where you are, 'pill bugs' are the ones that don't roll up, because I would assume that they got the name 'pill' bug because they resembled a little round pill.

Best wishes with your project, Fran.
#28 - June 30, 2014, 11:23 AM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
Ev, that might be. Now I wonder if the names came from kids who didn't know anything about pills. I'm sure I got this from my older brother and his friends who overturned rocks. Though, they do look like striated grey capsules.
#29 - July 07, 2014, 08:36 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

Trench Bunny Caretaker
Member
Poster Plus
See, this is where the name "wood bug" solves all those problems. They can roll up or not roll up and still have the same name. And there's nary a hint of ickiness like with "wood louse." ;)

Rue
#30 - July 07, 2014, 10:34 PM
WIP: ETBs 10687/35000 (30.5%)
WIP: IWWP 12045/35000 (34.4%)

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.