These pages are designed to give information about the structure, behaviour and adaptations of woodlice.
There are four common species of woodlice found in metropolitan regions of New Zealand. They are Porcellio scaber, Armadillidium vulgare, Porcellio pruinosus and Eluma purpurascens. It is relatively easy to distinguish between these species. There are also numerous native species found in native forest areas.
Porcellio scaber is the species used in our studies. This species is generally a grayish colour and has a head with three "lobes". P.pruinosis does not have an obviously lobed head and the posterior portions of the dorsal plates are not hook shaped as in p.scaber. When disturbed, both Eluma purpurascens and Armadillidium vulgare roll into a ball shape for protection. In the USA Armadillidium species are sometimes referred to as pill-bugs, non-rolling species may be referred to as sow-bugs.
E.purpurascens can be distinguished form A.vulgare by observing the eyes. E.purpurascens has a single eye, and tends to be pinkish in colour, whereas A.vulgare has a compound eye.
The links on this page apply mainly to P.scaber.