Terrestrial Isopods, Onicsidea, Sow Bugs or Pill Bugs

Quick Tips

Use Access Science, using phrases like "sow bugs" or "pill bugs" or "terrestrial isopods", or words like sowbugs, pillbugs, woodlice, woodlouse, or Oniscidea, to get a brief article that describes these arthropods. The quotation marks make the encyclopedia's software search for the phrase rather than the individual words. The citation form at the foot of the page will show how to cite the piece from the electronic encyclopedia in several styles.  (See Access Science https://www.accessscience.com/content/isopoda/355900).

However, the terminology may make a difference : "The terrestrial isopods known as pillbugs and sowbugs in North America are collectively known as “woodlice” in Europe. The term “woodlice” conveniently depicts their relatedness and preferred habitat, and deserves wider recognition and use in North America." from "Pillbugs and Sowbugs, or Woodlice (Isopoda)." In: Capinera, J.L. (eds) (2008). Encyclopedia of Entomology. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_2966--

This means that a British or European publication may be referring to the terrestrial isopods you are looking for as woodlice. Of course, they aren't lice, technically, but they also aren't bugs.

You may also use CREDO, a group of encyclopedias, to find materials about these crustaceans. Try variations on the search terms if you aren't finding what you need: (sowbugs OR sow bugs)


You will see as you search that terminology counts-- word choices influence what you retrieve.  Searches with common words are more likely to retrieve less academic materials, compared to latin names, as one example. 

Use Agricola or CAB Abstracts or Web of Science to find more scholarly articles related to the animal and what else you are interested in, such as the word isopoda AND (behavior OR behaviour)

The links to these resources are below.

It helps to use the term terrestrial in your search, since there are many members of Isopoda that live aquatically in either fresh or saltwater. In common usage, some of these crustaceans that roll into balls when challenged are called pill bugs, or roly-polys, rather than sowbugs, but that is not a scientific distinction.

You'll see that the popular articles, in something like Organic Gardening or Discover, are not as densely or technically written, not as much supported by other sources, and are more likely to include illustrations. By contrast, the more scholarly articles will have support from other sources, are written in terms that a professional audience will understand, and are more likely to include charts, tables or graphs.

In the databases, if the text of the article isn't attached to the citation, use the "Find It" button to help locate the items. Many of the journals are available online.

Cite your sources as you work, It is far easier to keep track if you record the information about your sources as you go. We offer Endnote Basic, and help in using that or Zotero in the library.