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Pillbugs Behavior Lab Report Sample

Testing of the Consistency of Pillbugs Behavior

Pillbugs are small terrestrial crustacean group of insects which reside in old and rotten woods (Rustad, 2009). These little animals feed on crops and wood and are believed to have a strong preference for food rich in starch. One of pillbugs’ favorite plants to eat is potato which is entirely a starchy foodstuff. This is what drives the experiment in the quest to find out the truth about their attraction to starchy food. The idea that pillbugs are attracted to corn starch had to be tested scientifically to ascertain its authenticity. Choice chambers technique allows people to explore the behavior and characteristics of animals employing different tests without using force to gather information from them (Mader, 2014). In this particular experiment, the fundamental idea was to find out how easy pillbugs can discover the chamber with corn starch and choose it right between two sides where one was filled with sand. This is a mechanism for getting scientific details about these insects’ behaviors when it comes to diet preference. There are different types of bugs with diverse conduct (Rustad, 2009). Pillbugs’ dietary behavior can only be determined scientifically through a research methodology with a hypothesis being tested for facts. Choice chambers technique in scientific experiments entails formulating a hypothesis which will be tested using the different sides of the chambers (Heath, 1995). This approach is mostly used when studying the physical attributes or living specimens since they can move from one side to the other.

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The experiment grounded on the testing of the consistency of animals’ behavior once they discover their preference, and that is why there was time measurement during the process of pillbugs moving from the first chamber to the corn starch. These insects are known to feast on newly planted seeds and other decaying live plants (Moore, 2002). This may be a sign that they are attracted to plants that produce starch, making it necessary to prepare an experiment to justify that hypothesis. Cornstarch was used in its pure form to test the bugs on diet preference under the hypothesis that they will be attracted to it. In the research, enough time was allocated to the insects to make their favorable choice and settle in it based on the factors that attract them. According to the guidelines of a laboratory test for animal behaviors, the test substances must be alike except for their testing characteristic. For instance, cornstarch and sand may look alike in the eyes of the insect. However, their testing characteristic, which is the nutritional value, is different.

Thesis: Pillbugs are attracted to cornstarch, and they exhibit behavior that depicts strong preference for the diet when put under laboratory test.

Materials and Methods

The testing of preference was done using two chambers where one was filled with cornstarch, and the other one with clean sand as the control substance. The pillbugs were released in the first chamber and time was allocated for them to roam around and find out their preferred chamber. Soon after they started moving, time was recorded as well as the number of the bugs that had taken a move in every moment of recording. This was to make sure that their behavior consistency was captured for the sake of the overall results of the experiment. The materials used in the research had to be appropriate for the sake of not confusing the bugs during their movement between chambers (Mader, 2014).

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ARGO particles were strategically placed in one of the chambers with the intentions of attracting the bugs to corn starch. The sand in the other chamber was used to control the choices of the insects since it looks like the ARGO particles. It was an idea of the study that the two substances being used should look almost the same in the physical structure to give the animal time to choose the right one. Twenty bugs were used and their movements recorded with intervals of one minute. The two major components of the experiment were the number of insects in a chamber every minute and the time used to move from one chamber to another. The results were to be put on graphs of time against bugs.

The two chambers were used to give the pillbugs time to make a choice based on their diet preference. For instance, if the chamber was only one, the insects could have crawled into it just by chance and the experiment could not have made any scientific sense. Twenty pillbugs were used so that their number can make the results significant because where the majority would go it would be their preferred chamber. These insects are known to love humid areas as their habitat, and that is why the sand was washed and sun-dried to remove all the humidity so that it did not attract the attention of the bugs and compromise the experiment. The sand had to be extremely dry so that it could not exhibit any of the preferred conditions which would make the pillbugs interested in exploring. This particular experiment was diet-based and should only be tested on diet conditions for it to give authentic results.

Results and Discussions

In our experiment, our primary hypothesis was that, if pillbugs have a preference for cornstarch, then it means that more of them will move to the chamber with cornstarch. Within the first five minutes of the test, eight insects moved to the upper left side of the chamber which had cornstarch while ten moved to the lower right side of the chamber which was filled with cornstarch as well. Only two pillbugs went to the upper right side which had sand. This means that eighteen out of the total twenty insects realized the side that had their preferred food and moved within the first five minutes. It is evident that pillbugs have a preference for cornstarch and can realize its presence in a very short time. Following the evidence obtained during the experiment, one can conclusively agree with the primary hypothesis of the study that the insects in question are attracted to cornstarch, and they exhibit behavior that depicts strong preference for it (Rustad, 2009). The first minute of the procedure shows that the pillbugs were unsure of which side of the chamber to take. Four insects went to the cornstarch chamber on the upper left side while five went to the upper right side where the sand was placed.

As the experiment recording continued, the second minute saw one bug moving to the cornstarch side from the sand upper right side. This continued as time went by, and in the fourth minute, seven insects had moved to the upper left side of the chamber following the cornstarch. If it had been the other way round and the bugs had gone to the sand side, the hypothesis would have been scientifically and experimentally rejected. Ten insects stayed in the lower right side of the chamber which contained cornstarch throughout the study.

The lower left side of the dish had pure sand, and there was no bug moving to that side. This shows that these small animals have their way of finding out what they prefer. The opposite side to the sand was the lower right one which had cornstarch, and ten insects settled in it for the whole experiment. There was no chance of confusion between these two chamber corners meaning that pillbugs are strongly attracted to cornstarch and have no interest in sand. On the other two parts, the movement continued until the fifth minute where eight insects settled in the upper left corner with cornstarch and two settled in the upper right side filled with sand. Scientifically, one minute was not enough for the animals to make a sound decision if they were put to the test, but five minutes was enough time for them to evaluate all the possible feelings and make a choice. This is why the first recording shows a confusion where the bugs moved to the sand, but as time progressed, they realized that was the wrong place and began to move to the cornstarch side. This was a demonstration of preference and consistency of nutritional behavior where animals are attracted by things that they eat.

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When the results of the first recording were plotted on a graph, it became evident that the behavior of the pillbugs was consistent. The ones in the lower right maintained their preference throughout the experiment while those from upper right kept diminishing. The lines representing the cornstarch upper left corner and sand upper right side crossed each other at the fifth bug and the third minute of the test. This shows that it only took three minutes for the insects to find their preferred chamber and begin to correct their choices. This is a strong attraction which supports the hypothesis of the experiment. Pillbugs eat rotten wood and fresh plants in their wild environment. This could be a demonstration of starch preference since they seem to be looking for it in every diet they consume.

When the results of the average number of bugs per minute were plotted on a bar graph, it became evident that the cornstarch bars stand taller than those with sand. This is an indication that the pillbugs did not take chances while making choices; rather, they knew exactly to what they were getting attracted. Another very important thing to note is that there was not even a single insect that moved to the cornstarch chamber and later left moving to sand. This was very clear in the experiment that these animals knew that cornstarch was what was attracting them, and they could not make mistakes of leaving it for sand. The results of this research are reliable enough to confirm strongly the hypothesis that pillbugs have a preference for a diet with starch even in their wild environment.


The primary purpose of this laboratory experiment was to employ the scientific method for finding out the behavior and diet preference of pillbugs. A hypothesis was formulated and a scientific strategy for testing it was designed. At the end of the scientific quest, it was evident that there was an adequate ground to support the hypothesis. The idea being tested was that pillbugs are strongly attracted to cornstarch, and if they are subjected to two competing environments, they will choose starch over the other substance; this is what was being tested, and the results proved that it was scientifically true. The experiment was successful since the primary hypothesis was confirmed to be true. Pillbugs are attracted to cornstarch, and they exhibit behavior that depicts strong preference for the diet when put under laboratory test. The twenty insects gave a clear picture of preference based on the conduct of the majority. Choice chambers technique was effective in that it allowed us to conduct an experiment with living specimens and collect the required data without using coercion or manipulations.


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