john gault
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Location: Atlantic Beach, Fl. (USDA Hardiness Zone 9a)

Do I have too many critters?

I have a section of my yard that I mulched with leaves from the trees that shade that area (Live Oak & Southern Magnolia). The idea was to make very healthy soil for the trees and shade plants without fertilizers or any other soil amendments, not even compost. Basically create an evironment that would attact all the native critters and see what happens.

Two years later and the topsoil (under the mulch) looks very healthy as opposed to the washed out look the bare ground use to have. And the amount of critters seems very healthy. However, I wonder if I may have too many woodlice https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodlouse ? I ask this because I periodically go out and pull weeds (small trees) and pickup sticks. This morning I found nearly 100 woodlouse on a dead stick that had fallen from the S. Magnolia. They seemed to be eating something on the stick, but I was impressed by the numbers. They were on top of the leaf litter this morning because of the heavy rain last night. Normally I don't see them in that number unless I brush away the leaves.

I'm just curious to know if there's anyway to know if a population of any one critter is too many and indicative of an imbalance? However, I could also ask the same question about the number of ants in this area -- so many, but they don't really eat woodlice.

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rainbowgardener
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Location: TN/GA 7b

You have the pill bug ones? (aka roly-polys, sow bugs, doodlebugs, etc).

I don't think it's any problem. They are detritovores and are busy breaking down all the sticks and leaves into soil.
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john gault
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Posts: 461
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:53 pm
Location: Atlantic Beach, Fl. (USDA Hardiness Zone 9a)

I have at least two types (the ones the ball-up and the ones that can't), it's hard to tell them apart, the only way I can is when I try to pick it up, either it balls up or runs like crazy. So I got at least two species, but I understand there's actual quite a few more, but haven't looked close enough to see how many different versions I have.

I understand they're basically good for the soil (and compost -- tons more in there), but just curious what a healthy habitat is suppose to look like, with respect to the various insect populations.

One thought I've had, especially looking at them in the great numbers in my compost pile, is that maybe these things are underrated as an important part of soil creation. Of all the soil organisms the woodlouse is mentioned in books, but never very much info. However, the worm has whole books written on them.

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rainbowgardener
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I just turned my compost pile. I found hundreds of black soldier fly larvae in there (well at least a hundred, maybe more), along with the earthworms and a few pill bugs. I haven't had that before. I'm thinking it's because I'm now using an enclosed plastic bin, instead of just a wire grid. Less open, more humid, less air circulation, probably makes it more conducive to the BSF's. But they are part of the process too....
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mjadams
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I don't think its possible to have to many bugs in a garden, as long as those bugs are native. Insects are at the very bottom of the food chain, so the more insects there are, the more life the garden can sustain.
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