Are plumeria and/or citrus leaves safe for isopods?

Hi there! I’m not brand new to isopod keeping, but I’m finally expanding my collection and it’s occurred to me that I don’t yet have a safe way to collect my own leaf litter. I do have some pine needles that I’m leaving to dry from this year’s Christmas tree (I know pines are a debated topic in the community - if you have any experience using them, or if there’s a nuance to some evergreens being safe but not others, feel free to let me know, I’m definitely looking to expand my knowledge here because I’ve only really got one reliable source that defends them) but I feel like the more leaves the better, right? Plus, those won’t be ready for a few more weeks most likely.

Unfortunately my backyard (or rather, my parents’ backyard, since I currently live in an apartment complex) doesn’t have a whole lot in the way of trees, and I’m not sure where else would be safe to look as I can’t find any concrete information on pesticide usage in my area. “We only use them when absolutely necessary and we use the least harmful ones to human development as possible” is great and all, but not super helpful for what I’m looking for!

We do have several citrus trees - lime, lemon, and two variants of orange trees (tangerines, and an orange tree that everyone always compliments the oranges of). We also have two plumeria trees, but their leaves are very thick, so even if they are safe I can’t imagine they would be easy for the isopods to munch on. I read off-handedly in a thread that orange bark and of course the fruits aren’t safe for isopods, but I couldn’t find any information on the leaves. Does anyone have any experience using citrus leaves for isopods, or is there any information on how it might be unsafe? Information on how the wood is unsafe (even though I obviously don’t plan on cutting down the trees just to feed my isopods) would be appreciated too, since that probably has a greater effect on the leaves than the acidity of the fruit!

On that note, most of the variations I’m going to be getting, as well as my existing colony, are Armadillidium Vulgare, with one Maculatum culture as well. Vulgare are found in both the area around my apartment (in fact I collected a few from there) and at my parents’ house (I used to play with them all the time as a kid) and my dad told me that he’s actually seen some isopods in his backyard munching on the rotting peels of fallen oranges in the backyard. I did see someone in a hermit crab thread talk about how citrus aren’t necessarily unsafe for crustaceans and they mentioned something about the fruit needing to be allowed to rot before its safe for hermit crabs to eat, I think? Do you guys think there would be any harm in giving the isopods some orange scraps, or would it be better to not risk it? I don’t eat a lot of fruits and vegetables (starving college student, but less through budget and more through being a picky eater and terrible chef) so I don’t have many scraps to give them, so being able to give them orange or lime peels (not lemon, I wouldn’t trust that) would be great since I don’t often have anything like that to give them. But since veggies/fruits aren’t as necessary as leaves, I’m a lot less concerned with doing that than I am being able to collect leaves from my backyard.

I will say that my dad recently treated weeds around the plumerias with weedkiller so I’m a bit hesitant to get anything from there, but the plumerias themselves obviously weren’t treated, and there’s no pesticides or anything. I’ll talk to him about specifics, but as long as its just “where the weedkiller was sprayed” that would be an issue, I think it should be fine. Although it’s already well into winter so I’m not sure if there will be any leaves that are getting ready to fall off yet anyways. Is it harmful to pick off leaves that don’t seem quite ready to come off yet? As in, harmful to the isopods - obviously I’d be careful not to take so many that the tree would suffer!

Thanks for any advice on the topic or even just reading, hope your isopods and other herps are doing well if you’re reading this!


I’m pretty new to isopods, but I think I’ve heard that they like leaves from hardwood trees. I have no idea which kinds are hardwood, I always have to look it up. Botany is not my specialty! :wink: The kinds I hear about the most are oak and magnolia leaves. In a pinch, there are lots of folks on ebay & etsy that sell big bags of leaves of various kinds.

I read one source (and of course I have no idea where :see_no_evil:) that said leaves need to have fallen naturally, but I don’t recall them stating any reason why that would be the case. Another care sheet I read for a rare-ish species stated that leaves should preferably be boiled and dried prior to putting in their enclosure.


@hellfire_exotics @spottedbull do you have any insight into citrus and plumeria with isopods?

Oh, and I personally wouldn’t use leaves from an area where any weed killer has been used.


I actually just purchased some leaves to hold me over at least temporarily! I did buy a bag of leaves for my first colony but obviously those are running low, so I bought another bag for now, trying out some almond leaves to see how those go over with the 'pods. It sounds like you and I have read similar things, especially about the fallen leaves thing. I tried looking for a reason that they need to be naturally fallen or about to fall and I couldn’t find one anywhere. Obviously one good reason (especially if you’re collecting from a place that isn’t your own home, like a street) is so that you don’t damage the tree but obviously I’d be careful not to over-harvest my own tree. What I do know based on my reading is that if you pick fresh leaves you’d have to wait for them to die and dry out before giving them to isopods (isopods are detrivores so they don’t like to eat fresh leaves, although I have heard some armadillidium will nibble on plants anyways), but I’m not sure what the harm in manually picking them off is besides a longer wait time for them to be ready. I’m also no botanist or very educated in biology so I totally get that part too! I’ve definitely heard that hardwood leaves are the preferred option for people but it does seem like they’ll eat some other kinds of leaves. Pine trees are softwood and were considered harmful by a lot of community members, but Smugbug (same source I got my isopods from) talked about them being safe when properly harvested (IE letting them dry out so that the isopods don’t get stuck in the sap) so I’ll be giving those a try once they’re ready like I said, but yeah, I went ahead and bought a bag just to tide me over until then!

And yeah I’ve heard both freezing, boiling, and baking as different options, with primarily the latter two being recommended. I believe the main reason is to get rid of any outside organisms (or potentially even chemical residue - obviously anything treated with pesticides is a no-go but living in a city its worth giving any leaves a nice rinse at the very least, I’d think) that might be harmful to isopods. I’m not too worried about harmful organisms if I pick them off the tree myself, but just to be safe I’d probably still boil them, or at the very least stuff them in the freezer for a bit!

And yeah I was thinking about avoiding the plumerias for now because of the weed killers too. I could always use them in the future a few months from now, when the weed killer has broken down so much that the weeds have started growing again haha. Thanks for all the advice, I really appreciate it!


Sorry, I havent used any citrus trees. I generally use pin oak leaves. They are pretty small, you can put a BUNCH in a gallon ziplock bag, and there are around 15 of them in my yard! Also a pretty good source for sticks and limbs for lizard and invert enclosures. We live in a pretty heavily-wooded area. I just put the leaves in the freezer for a few days then let them warm to room temp before using.

I’d avoid the weed-killer area. Just doesn’t sound safe.


I do not unfortunately, I mainly use sea grape / hickory / oak/ almond leaves.

Sea grape mainly for humidity retention as they don’t seem to eat those ones as quickly as the others.


Thanks for the feedback everyone! Sorry, I totally forgot to reply here. Currently the previous leaves I bought are still holding them over (I’m surprised by how long they’re lasting!) so once those run out I’ll look more into citrus leaves.