Science Sunday: Roly Poly, bugs, and the like

So, I got our science book for the year, or however long it takes us (at the rate we’re going it will not be a year, we did not take 2 weeks on chapter 1, but I don’t think we’ll always go this fast).  I had intended to do one of their other experiments, but then my kids got ahold of the book, and were paying attention as I read, and they heard the “collect bugs and observe them” and they were off running.


So what happened?


Well, first I woke up, and grunted at the kids as they kept telling me they were going to get bugs.  I guess I didn’t take them seriously enough, because next thing I knew they had collected four roly polies (does anyone know the right spelling for this?), and had them in the butterfly pavilion which I had bought.


As a side note, can I just say my kids were so disappointed that the caterpillars did not magically appear as soon as they had put the envelope in the mail box.


036 Ummm, I fairly sure that is Superman in the picture opening the pavilion….. 

Hypothesis: Insects are cold-blooded, so if we get them cold they will move slower.


Procedure: Observe the insects in warm weather/ our house.  Then put them in the refrigerator for a while (in a well closed cage) and see if they move slower afterwards.


What actually happened:037

Yeah, that was definitely Superman.  Because I remember telling Batman several times that day to change his shirt around.


When we observed the roly polies after they’d been in the refrigerator, the kids all swore they were moving slower.  I’m not entirely convinced, I think a different bug would have been better to observer.  I want to repeat this experiment with crickets or something else that moves more.


In case you can’t tell, my kids are obsessed with roly polies, so we’ve looked at them a lot.  I think they would have been a lot more interested in the caves if we’d gotten the tour guide who told all about the roly polies that dropped down there.


Their next question was of course, what do they eat?  Followed up by, what eats them?  Can you tell my kids like food?  So, I had no idea, so we googled it.

Roly Poly

Basically, they eat plants, dead plants, whatever they can get.  They’re somewhat helpful to your soil, but there was a lot of debate.


To my kids’ minds, they’re the most incredibly awesome bugs ever.  You pick them up and they roll up into little balls.  They love them.  Seriously.


And, since it’s getting late, and I want to go to bed at a reasonable hour, I’ll leave you wondering what we did to see how an insect sees (and FYI, I”m not going to recommend what we did, but give you what I believe is a better alternative).

18 thoughts on “Science Sunday: Roly Poly, bugs, and the like

  1. Ewww – I just looked up how to spell Roly Poly bugs – you got me curious – and you have it right. They are also called pill bugs, or more formally Armadillidiidium vulgare, and are part of the family of woodlice (which is the ewww part).

  2. Your boys can always come over and collect all the roly poly bugs that seem to make thier way into my mud room. My husband thinks they are potato bugs!

  3. My sister was telling me that roly polies were eating some plant in her garden, can't remember what… So apparently they can be real pests, but I sure loved playing with them as a kid!

  4. I can remember getting these when I was a child. My kids seem to love them too.

    Too funny about the magically appearing caterpillars. Ours arrived within a week, if I'm remembering correctly.

  5. Take 2 on trying to leave a comment.

    My daughter is at a stage where she wants to look at every bug, but she usually doesn't want to touch them.

    That must be fun trying to figure out which of your sons is in a picture. Is it easy to tell them apart in real life?

  6. Have you seen the group We Teach. I'm leaving a link to your blog over there under the Science Group. I saw you Science Sunday from Homeschool Creations.

  7. Meal worms are a good bug to do this experiment with. You can actually buy them refrigerated at a pet supply store. They are used as food for lizards and other critters. When you first take them out of the fridge they won't move hardly at all but within a few minutes they are wiggling everywhere. You can also find them at Insect Lore at They are expensive over there, you can get them much cheaper at a pet store and recreate the life cycle at home.

  8. Roly Polies – nope never heard them called that before, over in the UK we call it a woodlouse (pl. woodlice) or in my husbands case “armoured tank” and they are actually a very ancient animal whose closest living relative is the Horseshoe Crab. BTW the mummy woodlice are very good parents because instead of abandoning their eggs to take their chances they carry them round in a pouch on their belly until they hatch. Next time the gang get hold of any have a look at the underside with a magnifying glass and you can see the pouch if they are female.
    Happy experimenting!

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