Subject: Bright Orange Woodlouse
Location: Missouri, United States
March 20, 2015 11:49 am
during my searches for various bugs and critters I’ve come across a total of three of these bright orange woodlice. I have a large plastic tub full of woodlice that I feed and observe, so the three I’ve found are part of my little ecosystem now.
what I’m wondering is, is this a rare genetic coloration of some sort? or a different species of woodlouse than the gray ones? perhaps neither and it’s something else, so I thought I’d ask you!
Signature: Stolz

Orange Woodlouse

Orange Woodlouse

Dear Stolz,
Long ago we fielded a question about a Blue Sowbug and we learned it was infected with an Iridovirus which caused the coloration.  We found a similar question posted to BugGuide, but there is no response other than that it is identified as the European Sowbug,
Oniscus asellus.  On the Woodlice Oddities Page, it states:  “Orange Porcellio scaber This orange form appears to be rare in this region. The example here is the only one found in a collection of over 400 from the same compost heap – it is also the only one, of two, that I have observed over the last 10 years. The red forms of woodlice are genetically determined but their rarity suggests that this form is not as well adapted to the habitat as the darker gray forms.”  On it states:  “The Orange woodlice is a rare colour form the the common slater  Porcellio scaber.”  On BugGuide we learned that Porcellio scaber is a synonym for Oniscus granulatus.

Habitat with Woodlice

Habitat with Woodlice

Location: Missouri

3 Responses to Orange Woodlouse

  1. John says:

    I have found some orange and red pill bugs in those red volcanic rocks you buy from landscaping stores. I think they would be more likely to breed because camouflage.

  2. River says:

    We used to live in an orange tiled and bricked property in the UK. Built in the 1930s so long-standing. There were still some remnants of the building material in the nearby soil and some tiles stacked and leftover. There were a significantly higher amount of orange or orange-tinted woodlice in that garden compared to our old, white and grey tiled house only 30 miles away. It was certainly a product of natural selection. They do seem to be more common here in the UK though.

  3. Andrew Paget says:

    When a kid in Melbourne Australia our garden edging was old railway sleepers. Behind these were lots of slaters, and about one in a thousand was orange, and one in ten thousand white. My brother and I collected all the orange ones and put them together in one spot, resulting in a much higher percentage of them in the offspring

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