Not an insect

Call them pill bugs, sow bugs, roly-polies or whatever else you want to call them, but one thing is true about woodlice: they’re not insects.  Actually they’re isopods, a type of crustacean.  They’re related to shrimps, crabs and lobsters.

A woodlouse (Porcellionides pruinosus) running across my patio fence (20080913_11936)

This woodlouse is Porcellionides pruinosus.  I found the little critter scampering across my patio fence.  Poor thing.  Though it might not be obvious in these photos, I’d say this woodlouse got beat up.  It was missing several pieces and parts.  Still, it seemed to be doing just fine because it ran along the fence at great speed

A woodlouse (Porcellionides pruinosus) running across my patio fence (20080913_11934)

With the weather turning much cooler today, I’m sure it already found a new spot where it can stay cozy for a few days.  Amazing how much life jumps at the opportunity to move about as soon the sun comes out or temperatures climb above freezing…

9 thoughts on “Not an insect”

  1. Aww….they look very “ancient”. I saw Horseshoe Crabs in Delaware last summer, which have been unchanged for millions of years. It was very humbling.

    1. “Ancient” really does describe them, Marie-Ann. That and “otherworldly”–something from the deep trenches of the sea, perhaps.

      Your experience with horseshoe crabs is exactly the same as mine. It was many years ago, but I had already seen the new-at-the-time research that showed the species still looked exactly like their fossils. When I finally stood amongst them on the beach, I felt quite humbled and awed. It gave new meaning to “living fossil”…

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    1. Oh, mArNiAc, your past never ceases to amaze me. It might behoove you not to admit you played with lice as a kid. It doesn’t sound like a statement that fits easily into casual conversation–and I doubt it makes a good first impression.

  3. When you start thinking about how long Porcellionides pruinosus has been around as compared to how long Homo sapiens has been on this Earth, it makes one feel humble — or should.

    Excellent macros!

    1. Very good point, Marvin. I think most things in nature should elicit humility and awe, but that unfortunately doesn’t seem to be the usual response from our species. And thank you! Chasing fast-moving small critters with a camera doesn’t usually work well for me, but in this case I’m pleased with the results.

  4. How did I miss this one?!

    Jason – are you still telling me that you don’t use flash? You must have had some bright indirect light source for these photos, because they are so nicely, yet diffusely illuminated. I think you’re holding out on me šŸ™‚

    Better not let a certain ant specialist see you guys using the word ‘ancient’ with such cavalierity šŸ™‚

    1. You always make me laugh and think simultaneously, Ted. Thank you!

      Still no flash. In fact, these photos were taken on a cloudy day.

      I abhor flash. I can’t deny that. My passion stems–at least I think so–my passion stems from capturing what people can see just by walking through the wild and looking. That’s the experience I want to show in pictures. I’m not good at it, I know, but that’s my hope.

      IMHO: Flash is so harsh, so draining of the hidden power in natural light, a vampire that sucks the life out of things…or so I think when it comes to my own photography. I know I have a lot to learn in that regard–you’ve certainly proved that with your marvelous images that make me envious and tell me I still have much to learn–but ultimately I’m a fan of what the naked eye sees and I’m a fan of trying to capture that in photos. Some day I’ll think otherwise, I’m sure. Just not today.

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