Are Lawn Shrimp Harmful? Uncovering the Truth in Your Garden

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Lawn shrimp, also known as amphipods, are small crustaceans that are often found in gardens and lawns.

They usually thrive in damp and moist environments and can be seen after heavy rainfall or watering of lawns.

Are Lawn Shrimp Harmful

While lawn shrimps might appear somewhat alarming due to their large numbers, it is important to note that they are not harmful to humans or pets.

These creatures are primarily detritivores, meaning they feed on decaying organic matter such as leaves and grass clippings, making them beneficial for your lawn’s overall health.

However, lawn shrimp may sometimes accidentally find their way into homes, causing annoyance to homeowners.

In such cases, they can be easily removed using a broom or a vacuum cleaner, without the need for harmful pesticides.

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What Are Lawn Shrimps?

Lawn shrimp are tiny, translucent amphipod crustaceans often found in gardens. They have a pale brown color and long antennae.

Some characteristics of lawn shrimp include:

  • Tiny size, usually around 5-20 mm in length
  • Translucent bodies, ranging from pale to darker brown
  • Tendency to live in damp or moist areas, such as under rocks, leaves, and pots

Lawn shrimp are not typically harmful, but they can be a nuisance when present in large numbers.

However, they help in breaking down organic matter, essentially acting as harmless decomposers.

Lawn Shrimp

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Amphipod Species

The most common species of lawn shrimp is the terrestrial amphipod called Arcitalitrus sylvaticus. This species usually resides in damp or wet environments.

Some features of this species include:

  • Preference for high humidity environments
  • Nocturnal and active during the night
  • Capable of living on both land and water

Table showing different lawn shrimp species

CharacteristicsLawn Shrimp (General)Arcitalitrus sylvaticus
Size5-20 mmSimilar to general lawn shrimp
HabitatDamp, moist areasHigh humidity environments
ActivityVariesNocturnal
Harmful to Gardens?NoNo

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Are Lawn Shrimp Harmful?

Effects on Plants and Soil

Lawn shrimp, also known as terrestrial amphipods, are small crustaceans that feed on decaying organic matter. They mostly thrive in moist soil and mulch.

Though considered harmless to plants, their presence might be an indication of an infestation of insects.

Dangers to Humans and Pets

Lawn shrimp are generally considered harmless to humans and pets. They do not transmit diseases or bite.

However, their populations may increase rapidly under certain conditions, leading to larger infestations in homes and gardens.

Features of Lawn Shrimps:

  • Size: 5mm to 20mm
  • Color: Pale brown to whitish
  • Habitat: Moist soil, mulch, decaying organic matter

Characteristics of Lawn Shrimps:

  • Harmless to plants
  • Harmless to humans and pets
  • Considered a nuisance when present in large numbers
  • Feed on decaying organic matter

Pros:

  • Indication of healthy soil
  • Contribute to the breakdown of organic matter
  • Attract beneficial insects

Cons:

  • Nuisance in large numbers
  • Can enter homes

Comparing Lawn ShrimpGrass Shrimp

Lawn ShrimpGrass Shrimp
TerrestrialAquatic
HarmlessHarmless
Decaying organic matterDetritus, small aquatic organisms
Moist soil, mulchFreshwater or brackish water environments

Lawn Shrimp Diet and Habitat

Lawn shrimps can be found in moist environments. They prefer living on the surface (top 1/2 inch) of mulch and moist ground, such as in mulch beds, leaf litter, and under shrubs.

These creatures are most active after rain when they can migrate into garages and homes.

Decaying Organic Matter

Their primary food source is decaying organic matter. This includes decomposing leaves, grass, and other plant materials.

Lawn shrimp help break down this organic waste, returning nutrients to the topsoil and creating a healthy environment for plants.

Lakes and Ponds

Although they are called “shrimp,” lawn shrimp are not related to the popular seafood species found in saltwater and brackish environments.

Instead, these freshwater invertebrates live in close proximity to lakes and ponds. However, they can cause problems when overwatering gardens, as they may enter homes in search of dry areas.

Lawn Shrimp Vs. Seafood Shrimp

FeaturesLawn ShrimpSeafood Shrimp
HabitatMulch, moist ground, leaf litterSaltwater, brackish water
DietDecaying organic matterAlgae, plankton, small invertebrates
Impact on GardensRecycling nutrients, can invade homesNot typically found in gardens

Pros of Lawn Shrimp:

  • Help decompose organic matter
  • Recycle nutrients back into the topsoil
  • Maintain a healthy garden environment

Cons of Lawn Shrimp:

  • Can invade homes when seeking dry areas
  • Overwatering gardens may attract them

Controlling Lawn Shrimp

Pest Control Methods

Lawn shrimp, also known as yard shrimp, are small, pink pests commonly found in damp areas of lawns in regions like Florida and Australia.

While they are considered harmless to humans and don’t bite, they can be a nuisance in yards and gardens, especially when their populations grow out of control.

To get rid of these bugs, several pest control methods can be applied. These include:

  • Pesticides and insecticides: Use chemical treatments to target lawn shrimp directly. It’s important to choose a product that is specifically designed for these pests, as some general pesticides may not be effective.
  • Natural predators: Introducing natural predators, such as fish and frogs, to your backyard ponds can help keep lawn shrimp populations in check.

Preventing Infestations

Preventing lawn shrimp infestations often involves addressing moisture-related issues in your yard. Lawn shrimp thrive in wet topsoil areas, waterlogged lawns, and damp ground cover.

These methods can help in controlling lawn shrimp infestations:

  1. Reducing irrigation: Limit your yard’s watering frequency to make it less appealing to lawn shrimp.
  2. Proper yard management: Maintain your yard by regularly removing weeds, mushrooms, and other damp-loving organisms.
  3. Aerating your soil: Aerating your lawn helps improve water drainage, which can be helpful in controlling lawn shrimp populations.
  4. Ground cover: Opt for ground cover plants that require less water and prefer drier conditions.

Different Pest Control Methods to Control Lawn Shrimps

MethodProsCons
PesticidesEffective at killing lawn shrimp directlyChemicals can harm other beneficial bugs
InsecticidesCan target specific insect pestsPotentially harmful to the environment
Natural predatorsChemical-free and eco-friendlyMay not completely eradicate the problem

Lawn shrimps are not harmful to humans and do not bite or cause pain. However, they can be an unpleasant sight when their populations grow too large.

By using effective pest control methods and preventing infestations through proper yard management, you can keep these pink bugs under control.

Lawn Shrimp Life Cycle

Lawn shrimps reproduce rapidly, which can sometimes lead to infestations and become a nuisance for homeowners. The life cycle of lawn shrimps include the following stages:

  • Hatch from eggs
  • Go through several growth stages
  • Become adults capable of reproduction

Uses of Lawn Shrimps in Aquatic Environments

Lawn shrimps are not harmful to humans or pets, and they can offer some benefits to the aquatic environment. These include:

  • Lawn shrimps serve as a food source for fish
  • They provide natural fertilizer for plant growth

However, some drawbacks are that they can become a nuisance in large numbers and are not suitable for consumption like their marine counterparts, such as prawns and other types of shrimp.

Comparison of Lawn Shrimp and Marine Shrimp

 Lawn ShrimpMarine Shrimp
HabitatMoist ground or mulchLakes, oceans, and other water bodies
ConsumptionNot suitable for consumptionCan be eaten raw, cooked, and frozen
Benefits in aquatic ecosystemFood source, natural fertilizerFood source for larger aquatic animals

Conclusion

Lawn shrimps may evoke curiosity due to their frequent appearances in gardens and lawns, particularly after rain or irrigation.

Despite their sizeable presence, these crustaceans pose no harm to humans or pets. Serving as detritivores, they contribute to the ecosystem by breaking down decaying organic matter, benefiting your lawns.

Their occasional intrusion into homes can be managed easily without resorting to pesticides.

By recognizing their role and employing appropriate measures, humans can coexist with these harmless creatures.

Authors

  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts
Tags: are lawn shrimp harmful, Lawn Shrimp

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27 Comments. Leave new

  • I am amazed! I just moved to Oahu a couple of months ago and have been asking all over to find out what these shrimp/flea looking bugs are that I find dead all over the kitchen on a regular basis. Now I see they are all over the world and not just in Hawaii. I have 3 other bugs to identify now, so I’ll be posting pictures soon. Thanks!

    Reply
  • I live in Wilmington, NC which is near Castle Hayne and have tons of these little guys in our yard. I find them dead most of the time, but often alive.

    Reply
  • I live in an apartment in Austin TX. I find these bugs in the breezeway outside and all over my entry way. They are always dead. Have I done something to encourage their arrival? No one has ever seen them before. They are outside the door of the apartment next to me and across from me. Please let me know what I can do.

    Reply
  • I’m up in Swansboro just north of Wilmington where the original post was. We had some bad rains come through from the Tropical Storm Cindy and now I’m finding them just inside by the front porch and on the porch itself. Thanks for the post though! We get occasional cockroaches being surrounded by woods and I was glad to find out they aren’t little baby cockroaches!

    Reply
    • We suspect that Lawn Shrimp are also being spread through nursery stock. When conditions are favorable, they multiply to amazing proportions without any natural enemies.

      Reply
  • Im In Wilmington nc and I just moved a wet towel on my shop floor and seen these little guys jumping around. I now know what they are but at first I had no clue. They do seem to be spreading to nc. We have had a lot of rain and I have a few customers boats here. Figured they came from one of them into my lot. First time ever seeing them. What do they do and eat? Stupid question do they bite or anything?

    Reply
  • Yep. We here in Hampstead, NC (just north of Wilmington on the Intracoastal Waterway) have had very healthy lawn shrimp populations the past two summers. I have a bowlful as we speak. Are they any good grilled on the barbie?

    Reply
  • Just found this:

    What you are seeing is a land or terrestrial amphipod, commonly called lawn shrimp. Amphipods are in the crustacean order, hence their resemblance to shrimp, and are typically found in marine or freshwater surroundings. Some species, like the lawn shrimp are found on land, but they still need moisture to thrive.
    Terrestrial amphipods typically live in the top ½ inch of mulched soil and in moist ground areas in our landscapes. Unlike insects, lawn shrimp do not have a waxy layer on their exoskeleton to protect them from water. In times of heavy rains, they migrate out of their habitat seeking higher ground. Without the protective waxy covering, they are unable to live in a rain-soaked environment, but neither are they able to survive exposure to dry areas. Lawn shrimp are active at night and that is why they are found dead — often in masses — on porches, patios, driveways and the like in mornings after a storm. They can also get under doorways and into homes.

    ** Also read they do not bite. I found several live ones the other night and I picked them up and put them back outside. None of them tried to bite me!

    Reply
  • Just found this:

    What you are seeing is a land or terrestrial amphipod, commonly called lawn shrimp. Amphipods are in the crustacean order, hence their resemblance to shrimp, and are typically found in marine or freshwater surroundings. Some species, like the lawn shrimp are found on land, but they still need moisture to thrive.
    Terrestrial amphipods typically live in the top ½ inch of mulched soil and in moist ground areas in our landscapes. Unlike insects, lawn shrimp do not have a waxy layer on their exoskeleton to protect them from water. In times of heavy rains, they migrate out of their habitat seeking higher ground. Without the protective waxy covering, they are unable to live in a rain-soaked environment, but neither are they able to survive exposure to dry areas. Lawn shrimp are active at night and that is why they are found dead — often in masses — on porches, patios, driveways and the like in mornings after a storm. They can also get under doorways and into homes.

    ** Also read they do not bite. I found several live ones the other night and I picked them up and put them back outside. None of them tried to bite me!

    Reply
  • I am in New Bern, NC and have recently spotted them out side my front door. They are new to me. How can we get rid of them?

    Reply
  • Christian Martin
    June 25, 2018 11:18 am

    We just moved into a new home in costal South Carolina and find literally hundreds of these especially after a hard rain we have never seen a live one though. Are they nocturnal ?

    Reply
  • The lawn shrimp have finally reached central Fla. Ocala, Fla. to be more specific. I’ve been retreating to my wood shop at evenings to enjoy smoking my pipe and kept seeing these
    little critters crawling/hopping around on the floor.
    At first I thought those look like large fleas ! Also thought they may have been infantile
    wood roaches since we are next to wooded area. I was wrong………found this site, now I
    finally know. “lawn shrimp”, Whooda thunkit!
    Much thanks

    Reply
  • The lawn shrimp have finally reached central Fla. Ocala, Fla. to be more specific. I’ve been retreating to my wood shop at evenings to enjoy smoking my pipe and kept seeing these
    little critters crawling/hopping around on the floor.
    At first I thought those look like large fleas ! Also thought they may have been infantile
    wood roaches since we are next to wooded area. I was wrong………found this site, now I
    finally know. “lawn shrimp”, Whooda thunkit!
    Much thanks

    Reply
  • I get them here in Florida as well, just a couple days ago I must’ve had a thousand of them on my carport after a decent thunderstorm.

    Reply
  • Thank you so much for posting this picture, description, and explanation. We’re in a rainy few weeks in Southern California, and I’ve started to find a dozen or so of these critters in my dog’s outdoor water dish each morning. I’d wondered if a racoon was responsible, but the water wasn’t muddied, and the “shrimp” left behind. So, they’re escaping drowning in the lawn by heading to our covered indoor-outdoor carpet, with a few landing in the water bowl. When the weather dries out, they’ll stop coming, and I trust they pose no danger to my house or health hazard to my dog or family?

    Reply
  • We have found hundreds of these creatures on our driveway here in Oak Island, NC, (near Wilmington) over the last several days, and I finally have an answer as to what they are. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Sandra Waddell
    July 24, 2019 6:31 pm

    Weve had lawn shrimp here lately in our office building in Southport, NC

    Reply
  • Is there a pesticide that will eliminate these bugs without destroying the grass or shrubbery?

    Reply
  • I live in Monkey Junction near intracoastal in Wilmington, NC and just found a lot in our new garage.

    Reply
  • I live near the ICW in Wilmington, NC, and have these in my outdoor water bowls most summer nights in the past few years. Sometimes also see dried ones in the house.

    Reply
  • I live in Emerald Isle NC. I found these critters, by the thousands, in my pool (most were dead) for the past two days. Is there an end to Lawn Shrimp season? I sure hope so.

    Reply

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