What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

This one’s new to us!
August 9, 2009
Generally we like to emulate Albert Schweitzer(sp?) who thought all life forms had a right to exist and would gently sweep or shoo even bugs out of his dwelling. (We draw the line at mosquitos.) Most others are captured and released. Our cats take a different view. This bug lost his anntena (sp) in a battle before we rescued him. We would like to know what he is, He is very camera shy. Took us MANY attempts to get even these two shots. Tried the scanner for his underside, but he wouldn’t hold still! He has 12 legs. They seem translucent and they hold him up off the ground like a spider (only my daughter says his knees go in towards his tummy). He’s got no particularly interesting colours, just a brown/grey all over. He’s about 7 or 8 millimeters long. We’ re not very knowledgeable about bugs in general although we have some that we’ve done a bit of research on. Our assumption is that this is a male bug because of those two spikes on his rear end. We think a girl would have a third one (ovipositor). We’re willing to take instruction if we have made an invalid assumption. Thank you.
Not all girls are afraid of bugs!
southern Alberta, Canada

Woodlouse

Woodlouse

Dear Not All Girls …,
Thank you for your wonderful paraphrase of Albert Schweitzer’s world view.  We also believe in the Right to Life of the Lower Beasts, and this is getting us much heat lately from litigious readers who threaten to sue us after we provide them with free information.  We have a right to free speech, and we try to be courteous and respectful while making our beliefs regarding the Unnecessary Carnage of insects known.  Like you, we draw the line with certain species, including mosquitoes, but Argentine Sugar Ants are probably the one species we would love to eliminate from our Los Angeles home.  We also show no mercy with Aphids on our plants, meal moths and pantry beetles in our stored grains, and cutworms in our garden.
Your creature is a Woodlouse or Terrestrial Isopod in the suborder Oniscidea.  We hesitate to attempt any more specific identification that that.  According to BugGuide:  “Woodlice need organic matter, which can be found in most soils, and they need cool moist conditions. Many places that might seem too hot and dry have cool hiding places where they can wait out the dryness and heat.

Woodlouse

Woodlouse

Update
August 15, 2009
Thank you most kindly for the information.  He/she appears to have been a sowbug.  Or at least that’s what he most resembled in the pictures provided.  We released him outside that same day so we hope he is doing okay even with his missing antenna.  We live in what is normally a very arid part of Canada, but we have had some unusually wet weather this summer.  That would explain why we hadn’t ever seen one before.  I agree that some bugs must be ruthlessly, albeit mercifully, eliminated.  But my list is also very short.  Even carpenter ants can be of some benefit as long as they remain FAR from my house.  In 5 years they had almost completely reduced to compost a trio of stumps in my front yard.  But when they attempted to set up residence under my steps I felt no compunction in exterminating them–as mercifully as I knew how.  My children were also taught (and my husband retrained) not to be mean to bugs.  I’ll have little success with my grandson, though.  His mother, alas, considers anything with more than 4 legs to be anathema. I sometimes feel like I have very little support in my view so it is wonderful to discover a site like yours.
Sincerely,
Not all girls are afraid of bugs! (or snakes, frogs, lizards, etc)

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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