The Flat-Shaped Creatures That Can Easily Slide Under Your Doors And Into Your Homes
How many of you have heard of the bizarre looking creatures known as “lawn shrimps”? Probably not too many of you, but you have more than likely spotted one, or several, at some point in the past. When these creatures are spotted, they are often dismissed as insects. Like insects, lawn shrimps are also members of the arthropod phylum. Although these creatures may have many features in common with insects, they actually belong to the crustacean subphylum. You are probably aware that many crustacean animals dwell within the sea, such as lobsters. The majority of different types of lawn shrimp, as their name would signify, dwell within marine environments. However, unlike many crustaceans, some types of lawn shrimp live on land. The marine-dwelling types are referred to as amphipods; while the name “lawn shrimp” is, obviously, only used in reference to the land dwelling types of amphipods. These arthropods are numerous on the continent of Australia, but at some point, these funny-looking organisms found their way into North America.
According to Tom Lockley, a former research scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, land-dwelling lawn shrimp are known for their ability to hop, as well as their tendency to slide under doors and into peoples’ homes. As you can guess, land dwelling lawn shrimp require a high-moisture environment in order to survive. Lawn shrimp typically wind up in houses in an effort to locate moist conditions. Since most houses these days are air-conditioned, and are far less moisture-rich than outdoor environments, house-invading lawn shrimp quickly die.
Lawn shrimp range from five to twenty millimeters in length. They are often pale brown, or greenish in color, but sometimes they can appear black. When these creatures die, they change color to orange, or red. These arthropods are not often spotted by people because they are nocturnal. Luckily, these arthropods are rarely considered pests, as they feed on organic material. Their organic feeding material is beneficial for plants, as it becomes a form of fertilizer when broken down. Only in rare circumstances are lawn shrimp considered harmful pests.
Have you ever spotted a lawn shrimp before? If you have, what was the climate like in the region where you spotted one, or more, of these arthropods?