“Ball bugs” clean the soil from heavy metal contamination, do not harm them » El Horticultor


Stabilize growing conditions and protect groundwater

Turn over a brick or board that has been on the patio for a while and underneath you may find a collection of sowbugs running around. Also known as “Oniscidea” bullet tacks, humidity bugsthese gray colored creatures can be found in many dark and humid environments as they feed on decaying organic matter.

They are characterized by their ability to curl into a ball when threatened. Another unique feature is that they have seven pairs of legs. They also act like kangaroos, carrying their eggs with them in a special pouch called a marsupium. Even stranger, they don’t urinate. Instead, they exchange gases through bronchial-like structures.

Woodlice play an important role in the life cycle of plants. They return organic matter to the soil so that it can be further digested by fungi, protozoa and bacteria. This process produces a natural supply of nitrates, phosphates and other essential nutrients that plants need to thrive now and in future growing seasons. It’s important not to introduce them to the garden too early, as they tend to eat new plants. They often live up to three years.

Photo by Rollie Pollie

Woodlice clean the soil and protect groundwater from heavy metal contamination

A unique quality these crustaceans possess is their ability to safely remove heavy metals from the soil. For this reason, they are an important tool for cleaning soil contaminated with contaminants such as lead, cadmium and arsenic. They absorb heavy metals like lead and cadmium and crystallize these ions in their guts. Heavy metal toxins become spherical deposits in the midgut. Thanks to this special cleaning property, the insects survive where most creatures cannot, in the most polluted places.

Insect magic helps restore healthy soil and prevents toxic metal ions from seeping into groundwater. This means bedbugs also protect well water from contamination while stabilizing soils.






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