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On hearing the name, many people will already be startled. Woodlice. They are small crustaceans that like to nest in warm and moist environments. Woodlice have an oval body between 1 and 2 inches long.
By nature, woodlice are shellfish and very rarely, if ever, occurred on land. Nevertheless, some species have managed to adapt. They are equipped with gills. Through these gills they breathe, absorbing moisture and extracting oxygen from it.
Species of woodlice
There are several known species and varieties of woodlice. Listed below are the species most commonly found on land.
This is the most common and common woodlouse. You will find this species in cracks and seams of walls. You will also find this species in garbage and hidden under stones. Preferably in places where it is moist and warm, because in those conditions they thrive best. The food consists of dead material such as rotten wood and fallen leaves. Many bumps can be seen on their backs, which is a characteristic of this species.
The habitat of this species can be guessed: the basement. In terms of external characteristics, this species is not much different from the rough woodlouse, but this species is darker in color and somewhat smoother. In addition, this species features a number of colored spots, yellow, brown and white on the back.
This form is found under rocks as well as in basements. It is an adventurer that possesses a special defense mechanism. When there is danger, this species can literally roll itself up, so to speak. In this way, the creature forms a shape of a marble that should deter enemies or will not interest them.
This species stands a little higher on its legs. Can also run faster. Its body is convex in relation to its conspecifics. It is best compared to an insect larva, for example.
The ant woodlouse has its habitat underground. The color of the creature is white, very striking difference from the other species. This is due to the lack of light underground. Also, this species is much smaller, being only a few mm long.
The habitat of a woodlouse
In general, it can be said that woodlice thrive best in an environment where it is warm and moist. Because they breathe with their gills, a moist environment is required. When the environment lacks moisture, woodlice simply dry out. A woodlouse’s habitat can be very diverse. It does not matter much to the woodlouse what environment it is. The important thing is that the place where they are is moist. Without a moist environment, they cannot survive.
You can find woodlice in the garden, for example. Under stones or under leaves or in dead wood. But you can also find woodlice in forests and meadows. As long as it is moist, the environment is a suitable location for woodlice. You can also encounter certain species in the basement, for example.
Outward characteristics of a woodlouse
All species of woodlice are very similar and have more or less the same characteristics when it comes to their appearance. What is certain is that this external appearance has hardly changed over the past millions of years.
The head of a woodlouse is small. It can be compared to a kind of helmet in appearance. On both sides of the head are several eyeballs. Vision through these orbs is not very good, by the way. Therefore, they orient themselves mostly with their delicate antennae.
The thorax of a woodlouse consists of about 7 separate segments that make up the thorax. Each segment contains two legs with a plate above them to protect the body.
The abdomen, like the head of a woodlouse, is small compared to the thorax. In the abdomen, females have a recess for a brood pouch. This is where the eggs are kept until they hatch.
There are no truly comparable insects. However, they are usually grouped under the term pests. This usually puts them in the same breath as, for example, cockroaches, carpet beetles, silver fish or cluster flies. Although biologically they are not related to each other at all. To most people, however, they are all the same thing: pests. People experience it as filthy and unhygienic and thus want to be rid of it as soon as possible.
Lifestyle of a woodlouse
A woodlouse molts regularly. This molting is necessary. This process deliberately occurs in two phases. In the first stage, the back section of their shell comes off. They then walk around with this for a few days. Then the front section lets go. The reason for this process is that the new shell is to harden. Only when this process is complete can the front section of the shell also detach, after which a completely renewed layer of armor is created. Females molt particularly after mating. During this process, the so-called brood pouch is also formed. In this brood pouch, the eggs will be laid by the female and will be transported for several weeks. After the eggs hatch, the young remain in the brood pouch. In the brood bag, they also molt several times before they are ready to go out into the wide world.
What does a woodlouse eat?
Litterbugs eat all kinds of organic material. And in particular. The dead organic material. So often the diet of a woodlouse consists of dead twigs or branches, rotted tree trunks and dry leaves.
Natural enemies of a woodlouse
A woodlouse has quite a few natural enemies. For example, there is the hedgehog. The hedgehog lives at night and loves woodlice. So do frogs. In fact, frogs will eat just about anything they can fit in their mouths. This also includes woodlice. Then there’s the blackbird. A blackbird can also appreciate a woodlouse. Actively, the blackbird looks under leaves to see if there happens to be one or more woodlice that can be eaten. The shrew is also a welcome guest at the woodlouse buffet. This quick little mouse is a carnivore by nature and loves woodlice.
Reproduction and longevity
A woodlouse becomes about one and a half to two years old. Reproduction is as follows. The female secretes a scent by which a male can recognize that she is ready to be fertilized. This process always takes place at night. The female also mates with several males in her lifetime. The male crawls on the female and fertilizes her on two different sides. Females have two vaginas; males have two penises. An average mating lasts five minutes.
Nuisances and diseases
Although the average human is not particularly happy about it or charmed by it, a woodlouse is not unhealthy for humans. No diseases can manifest as a result of the presence of woodlice. It usually just indicates that you have a lot of moisture in that place.
Although woodlice are harmless and cannot sting or anything like that, they are still often perceived as a nuisance. In that case, controlling woodlice is an option. You can do this yourself by scooping them up and releasing them in another damp spot. But sometimes the nuisance is such that calling in a pest controller is necessary. In that case, call a local pest control company, they always know what to do with these kinds of pests.
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