Woodlouse Facts

Woodlouse Facts
Woodlouse is crustacean that is closely related to lobsters and crabs. There are over 3.500 species of woodlice that can be found around the world. Woodlouse inhabits moist and dark habitats and usually hides under the stones and logs in the forests, jungles and areas near the shore. Woodlice are occasionally classified as pest due to ability to destroy young seedlings. On the other hand, woodlice are beneficial for the humans because they eliminate decaying plant material and increase fertility of the soil.
Interesting Woodlouse Facts:
Most species of woodlouse can reach 0.1 to 1.1 inches in length.
Woodlouse has tough outer shell, called exoskeleton, on the surface of the body. Most species are gray, brown or (rarely) reddish-orange colored.
Woodlouse sheds its shell (molt) once every two months to ensure normal growth of the body. Molting consists of two phases. Woodlouse first eliminates rear part of the shell, and few days later its anterior part. Bi-colored, pink-grey animals can be seen in between these two phases.
Woodlouse has segmented body and 14 legs. Some species, known as roly-poly or pill woodlouse, are able to curl their body into a ball to protect themselves against predators.
Woodlouse has one pair of antennas on top of the head. They function as sensory organs which facilitate navigation in the space. Uropods are small, tube-like structures on the rear end of the body. They release foul-smelling substance when woodlouse is faced with danger.
Most species of woodlouse are active during the night (nocturnal).
Woodlouse extracts nutrients from dead, decaying leaves, roots and fruit. Some species consume live plants.
Woodlice are the only crustaceans that are adapted to the life on the ground (other crustaceans spend their life in or near the water).
Woodlice use gill-like structures (branched tubes) called pseudo-trachea for breathing.
Ammonia is toxic end product of protein metabolism. Most animals convert ammonia into less toxic forms: urea or uric acid, before elimination from the body. Woodlouse is one of the rare animals that is able to produce and safely eliminate ammonia in the gaseous form via its shell (it does not produce urine like other animals).
Oxygen-rich blood of woodlouse is blue-colored.
Natural enemies of woodlice are shrews, toads, centipedes, millipedes and spiders.
Female lays 24 eggs in the special pouch (designed for carrying the eggs) on the bottom side of the body. Eggs hatch after several days, but babies stay in the pouch until they become large enough to survive on their own.
Male carriers of Wolbachia bacteria transform into females soon after they become infected. This bacterium disrupts male hormones and induces gender transition to ensure its own survival (bacteria continually change the hosts via eggs that female lays).
Woodlouse can survive 2 to 4 years in the wild, depending on the species.

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