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Slaters Pillbugs and Woodlice: Isopoda

Common Shiny Woodlouse (oniscus Asellus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: The body of the common shiny woodlouse is egg-shaped, has a shiny grayish brown back, and reaches a length of approximately 0.6 inches (16 millimeters). It has a pair of long antennae.

Geographic range: Originally from only western and northern Europe, this species is now also established in both eastern Europe and North America.

Habitat: The common shiny woodlouse lives in almost any damp habitat, particularly in forests. It is usually found under rocks and logs.

Diet: It eats plant materials, especially the leaves of lime, ash, and alder trees.

Behavior and reproduction: This species cannot roll up into a ball for protection. They avoid light and seek out areas with high levels of moisture. They tend to latch on firmly to rocks and other surfaces.

The common shiny woodlouse lives in almost any damp habitat, particularly in forests. It is usually found under rocks and logs. (Stephen P. Parker/Photo Researchers, Inc.)

Common shiny woodlice and people: This common garden and greenhouse species does little damage to plants.

Conservation status: The common shiny woodlouse is not considered endangered or threatened. ∎



Raham, R. G. "Pill Bug Strategies." In Dinosaurs in the Garden: An Evolutionary Guide to Backyard Biology. Medford, NJ: Plexus Publishing, 1988.

Sutton, S. Woodlice. Oxford, U.K.: Pergamon Press, 1980.

Tavolacci, J., editor. Insects and Spiders of the World. Volume 7. Owlet Moth-Scorpion. Pill Bug. New York: Marshal Cavendish, 2003.


McDermott, J. J. "Biology of Chiridotea caeca (Say, 1818) (Isopoda: Idoteidae) in the Surf Zone of Exposed Sandy Beaches along the Coast of Southern New Jersey, U.S.A." Ophelia 55 (2001): 123-135.

Web sites:

Minibeast Profiles: Sowbugs and Pillbugs. http://members.aol.com/YESedu/MBP05.html (accessed on March 14, 2005).

"Pillbugs. Oniscidea." Critter Catalog. http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/information/Oniscidea.html (accessed on March 14, 2005).

Sowbugs and Pillbugs. http://www.zoo.org/educate/fact_sheets/sowbug/sowbug.htm (accessed on March 14, 2005).

World List of Marine, Freshwater and Terrestrial Isopod Crustaceans. http://www.nmnh.si.edu/iz/isopod/ (accessed on March 14, 2005).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMollusks, Crustaceans, and Related SpeciesSlaters Pillbugs and Woodlice: Isopoda - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Common Pill Woodlouse (armadillidium Vulgare): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, SLATERS PILLBUGS WOODLICE AND PEOPLE