Image: Prawns on the doorstep
- Mary Guthrie
- © Mary Guthrie
- Common name:
- Sydney, NSW.
- Date taken:
- 21 September 2010
These 'insects' are actually crustaceans and therefore related to the prawns and lobsters more than the butterflies and beetles. This is why they have a prawn like appearance and also why they die as they are dependent on a humid environment and a damp location to shelter in. During times of heavy rain they often enter houses to escape the flooded ground but then become trapped inside in the carpets and dry floors and are unable to find their way out to the dampness outside before they die. As a result we often get enquiries about 'tiny prawns on the doormat'.
The following information should help:
These are talitrid amphipods (or landhoppers) – small terrestrial crustaceans related to slaters. Landhoppers live in damp leaf litter and eat rotting plant material. When disturbed, they jump about quite a lot, which makes them quite easy to see against the dark soil. During and after rain, the leaf litter often becomes flooded, forcing groups of landhoppers to seek shelter. Sometimes they come into houses, where they soon die from dehydration. Like prawns, some landhoppers are light-coloured when alive, but change to pink when they die. They are completely harmless and cause no damage to houses.
If you find dead landhoppers in your house, you can just sweep them up and dispose of them.