Do Lawn Shrimp Bite? Debunking Myths and Clearing Confusion

Lawn shrimp, also known as terrestrial amphipods, are small crustaceans typically found in moist environments and leaf mold beneath shrubbery. They are known to migrate after heavy rains and can sometimes find their way into garages or under the doors of houses link.

Contrary to popular belief, lawn shrimp are not known to bite humans. They feed primarily on decaying plant matter, fungi, and bacteria found within their habitats. Their bodies are not equipped with structures to bite or sting, making them harmless neighbors in your garden or lawn.

Understanding Lawn Shrimp

Crustacean Classification

Lawn shrimp, also known as terrestrial amphipods, are small crustaceans. They belong to the amphipod order within the crustacean class. Some common examples of crustaceans include crab, lobster, and shrimp.

Physical Characteristics

Lawn shrimp typically have a red or reddish-brown color, which may vary depending on their environment. They are small, averaging around 13mm in length. Lawn shrimp have distinct features, including:

  • Antennae for sensory and navigation purposes
  • A compressed, laterally flattened body
  • Segmented limbs for crawling and swimming
Feature Lawn Shrimp Other Crustaceans
Color Red or reddish-brown Varies
Antennae Yes Yes
Body Shape Compressed, laterally flattened Varies

Lawn shrimp prefer habitats close to the surface of moist ground or mulch. They often appear in large numbers after rains, and may even migrate into garages or under doors of houses. Unlike common shrimp species found in the water bodies, lawn shrimp do not bite or pose any harm to humans.

Habitat and Distribution

Native Regions

Lawn shrimp, also known as terrestrial amphipods, are small crustaceans originally native to Australia, but have now spread to other regions of the world, including California in the United States 1.

Preferred Environment

Lawn shrimp thrive in moist environments, adapting their behavior to suit weather conditions and moisture levels in soil and leaves2.

  • Water: They are commonly found in areas with freshwater sources and damp soil.
  • Leaves: Lawn shrimp consume decomposing leaf matter, making them a natural food source for some garden inhabitants.
  • Mulch: They are typically found in the top 1/2 inch of mulch and moist ground3.
  • Soil: Both fertilized soil and leaf mold beneath shrubbery offer suitable habitats for lawn shrimp4.

In comparison to their freshwater counterparts, lawn shrimp exhibit preferences for specific environments:

Freshwater Shrimp Lawn Shrimp
Water Preference Freshwater Damp areas
Food Sources Algae, detritus Decaying leaves
Habitat Aquatic ecosystems Gardens, mulch, moist soil
Dependence on Moisture Requires water to live Thrives in moist areas5

It’s essential to maintain specific environmental conditions in gardens and soil to prevent lawn shrimp from causing problems. Some preventative measures include:

  • Regulating moisture levels in soil
  • Properly maintaining mulch and leaf litter
  • Implementing barriers to prevent lawn shrimp migration into nearby structures6

Although lawn shrimp might seem invasive in some scenarios, they do not bite and generally pose no harm to humans or pets. Properly managing environmental factors can keep their populations in check, preventing any potential damage to gardens or unwanted migrations into human habitats.

The Life Cycle of Lawn Shrimp

Reproduction

Lawn shrimp, also known as terrestrial amphipods, are small crustaceans that live in moist soil, often found in gardens and lawns. Their reproduction process starts when they find a mate and proceed to mate with them. They reproduce quickly, which can lead to a rapid increase in their population.

Eggs and Development

Once the female lawn shrimp lays her eggs, they develop in a protected brood pouch. These eggs hatch into small, delicate individuals resembling adults but lack swimming appendages.

In their growing stage, lawn shrimp have some characteristics:

  • Color varies from pale brown to pink
  • Length ranges from 5mm to 20mm
  • Prefer moist environments, like wet lawns or garden beds

To make it easier to understand the differences between lawn shrimp and some similar crustaceans, a comparison table is provided below:

Crustacean Environment Size Color
Lawn Shrimp Moist soil, lawns 5-20mm Pale brown, pink
Ghost Shrimp Freshwater, aquariums 25-50mm Transparent
Prawns Marine, freshwater Up to 330mm Varying colors
Sand Fleas Beaches, shorelines 15-20mm Pale brown

Lawn shrimp play a role in breaking down organic matter, such as mushrooms and grubs, making them helpful for your garden. However, their rapid growth may become a problem. To control their population, some measures can be taken:

  • Avoid overwatering lawns or garden beds
  • Adjust your watering schedule to prevent overly moist soil
  • Use organic or chemical pesticides carefully, considering their possible effects on other organisms

Keep in mind that lawn shrimp do not bite and are generally harmless to humans. They might become a nuisance due to their rapid population growth, but with proper care and maintenance, you can keep them under control.

Lawn Shrimp as Pests

Effects on Gardens and Lawns

Lawn shrimp, also known as terrestrial amphipods, are small, soft-bodied crustaceans that can be found in moist soil and leaf litter. While these critters are not known to bite or possess claws like crabs, they can become a nuisance when they infest gardens and lawns in large numbers.

Areas with moist soil, like Florida and Texas, may experience more lawn shrimp activity, especially during wet weather. Lawn shrimp feed on decaying plants and fungi, such as mushrooms, and can sometimes help with breaking down organic matter in the garden. However, they could also damage delicate plants and attract other scavengers, like grubs.

Controlling Infestations

To prevent lawn shrimp infestations, maintain a healthy and well-drained garden. Some methods for controlling lawn shrimp include:

  • Keeping the soil well-drained: Installing a proper drainage system can prevent excessive moisture in the soil, making it less inviting for lawn shrimp.
  • Reducing organic matter: Regularly clearing decaying leaves and plants will reduce their food sources, helping to keep lawn shrimp populations down.
  • Protecting your home: Seal gaps and use weatherstripping on doors and windows to prevent lawn shrimp from entering your home during migrations after heavy rainfall.

Lawn shrimp vs. other pests:

Pests Bite or Sting Damage to Plants Control Methods
Lawn Shrimp No Minimal Draining soil, reducing organic matter
Hairy Chinch Bugs Yes Significant Insecticides, keeping a well-maintained lawn

Pros of lawn shrimp:

  • Help decompose organic matter
  • Not harmful to pets

Cons of lawn shrimp:

  • Can damage delicate plants
  • Attract other scavengers

By following the above control measures and keeping your garden well-drained and free of excessive organic matter, you can keep lawn shrimp populations in check and maintain a healthy outdoor space.

Lawn Shrimp Interaction with Humans and Pets

Can They Harm Humans?

Lawn shrimp, or terrestrial amphipods, dwell on the surface of mulch and moist ground and usually migrate after rains. Although they may look like insects, they are actually crustaceans. Lawn shrimp do not possess stingers or harmful teeth, so they cannot hurt humans.

For example, unlike fleas, lawn shrimp don’t bite or cause any direct harm. However, they may become a nuisance if they enter houses or garages in large numbers seeking moist environments.

Effects on Pets

As for pets, lawn shrimp do not cause any known illnesses or pose significant threats. They lack pincers or sharp teeth that could potentially hurt animals. Yet, it is essential to recognize that some pets might be allergic to these crustaceans, just as they might be to other allergens present in damp areas or ground cover.

To illustrate the difference between possible harm from lawn shrimp and other organisms, see the following comparison table:

Organism Can Sting/Bite Can Cause Illness Can Damage Ground Cover
Lawn Shrimp No No No
Fleas Yes Yes No
Grass Shrimp No No Yes

In conclusion, while lawn shrimp might be an annoyance, they don’t pose critical harm to humans or pets, unlike fleas or other harmful insects. However, always be cautious of allergic reactions in both people and pets.

Other Similar Arthropods

Silverfish and glass shrimp are both arthropods, like lawn shrimp. They all belong to the phylum Arthropoda, which encompasses a vast group of creatures such as insects, spiders, and crustaceans.

Silverfish are wingless insects, typically found in damp environments. They have a distinctive appearance, with their scaly bodies and three tail-like appendages. Glass shrimp, on the other hand, are translucent crustaceans that can be found in both freshwater and marine habitats.

The Talitridae family, also known as the lawn shrimp, are small, land-dwelling crustaceans. They are often found in moist areas, such as mulch and leaf litter, and are known to move by leaping, just like their relatives, beach hoppers.

Here’s a comparison table of their key features:

Feature Silverfish Glass Shrimp Talitridae (Lawn Shrimp)
Phylum Arthropoda Arthropoda Arthropoda
Habitat Damp areas Freshwater and marine Moist environments
Appearance Scaled bodies with tail-like appendages Translucent bodies Small, land-dwelling crustaceans
Movement Crawling Swimming Leaping

Arthropods reproduce in various ways. For example, silverfish lay eggs, while glass shrimp and lawn shrimp undergo molting. This process, also known as ecdysis, allows arthropods to grow and regenerate any lost limbs or appendages.

Some key characteristics of arthropod reproduction include:

  • Eggs protected by a shell or brood pouch
  • Use of pheromones to attract mates
  • Indirect reproduction, with intermediate free-swimming larval stages
  • Post-embryonic development accompanied by periodic molting

In conclusion, although lawn shrimp share similarities with other arthropods, they are each unique in their own ways. Comparing them can give valuable insights into the fascinating biodiversity of the arthropod world.

Footnotes

  1. Terrestrial Amphipods or Lawn Shrimp

  2. Lawn Shrimp in California

  3. Terrestrial Amphipods or Lawn Shrimp

  4. Lawn Shrimp in California

  5. Terrestrial Amphipods or Lawn Shrimp

  6. Lawn Shrimp in California

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Lawn Shrimp

 

Subject: Did Santa Leave These?
Location: Glendora, California
December 26, 2012 3:31 pm
Dear Bug Expert,
Yesterday (December 25) we found 100 small specimens in our salt water swimming pool. They were crawling up the sides of the pool, but would lose traction and fall back down to the bottom. Today there are only a few left. They are more active when fished out of the pool and jumped around and scurried off. And so did we…
They are small shrimp-like creatures with legs under their bodies and antennae-like feelers. We saw light and dark colored specimens (light attached). Oak trees, a lemon tree and crepe myrtle trees are next to the pool. The specimens look somewhat like silverfish. Thank you!
Signature: Freaked Out Family of Bug Sighters

Lawn Shrimp

Dear Freaked Out Family of Bug Sighters,
You have Lawn Shrimp or House Hoppers, terrestrial amphipods that live in damp landscaping.  Interestingly, their exoskeletons absorb water, so if it is too wet, they will drown, but if it is too dry, they dessicate.  They are not native to Southern California, but they have naturalized in the well watered landscaping we support in Southern California.  They are generally not even noticed until there is a heavy rain and they seek shelter indoors.  Then they quickly dry up and die, leaving reddish carcasses.  Other than being a nuisance, they are not considered to be pests or dangerous.

Dear Bug Expert,
Thank you very much for answering our Christmas wish! So very prompt too. I called my adult children that had just left here and were on their way back to their own homes and they were relieved. My son in law actually was the one that Googled you and went into the very cold water to retrieve our specimen this morning. We have had a lot of rains lately, so assume that is why it happened, sorta freaked us out 🙂
Happy New Year to you and thank you for your help,
Not so Freaked Out Family of Bug Sighters

We are happy that we were able to clear up the mystery for you.

Letter 2 – Lawn Shrimp

 

Subject: Raining shrimp?
Location: Fairhope, AL
April 19, 2014 4:19 pm
I emptied the water out of a large bowl I had left outside the other day, but since it rained again yesterday I went to empty it again today and found about ten of these baby shrimp in the bowl. I live about 5 miles from Mobile Bay, but I still thought that was kind of weird… then I found your page and concluded they might be lawn shrimp. The antennae fell off before I took the picture.
Signature: Ray

Lawn Shrimp
Lawn Shrimp

Hi Ray,
You are correct that this is a terrestrial amphipod known as a Lawn Shrimp.  They are also known as House Hoppers because they sometimes enter homes in large numbers after a rain.  Lawn Shrimp are native to Australia, but they have been introduced to North America, and most of our reports come from California.  We have also gotten reports from Florida, but we believe your account from Alabama is a first for us.  Lawn Shrimp can proliferate in great numbers in gardens, but they are generally not noticed until it rains and they enter homes where they quickly die.

Letter 3 – Lawn Shrimp

 

Subject: Land Shrimp?!
Location: La Habra Heights, CA
March 27, 2017 10:20 am
Hi,
We just recently moved into our new place and found these bugs crawling into our living room from the patio door and molting They moved very slow and when i try to catch one, it jumped up about 12 to 18 inches straight up. I lived in Southern California and never seen an insect like this. Can you help me identify this insect, thank you.
Signature: Jonathan

Lawn Shrimp

Dear Jonathan,
Commonly called a Lawn Shrimp or House Hopper, this terrestrial Amphipod is not an insect, but a Crustacean.  Lawn Shrimp are native to Australia, but they have naturalized in Southern California because of the irrigated gardens that are so common.

Daniel,
Thank you for identifying the critter.  My son was so excited when I read the email you had sent and how amazed he was how a shrimp can live in our yard.  Thank you and we will be visiting the site to identify all the insects and non insects we find in our backyard and vegetable garden.   I found your site to be very educational and entertaining, thank you!
Best Regards,
Jonathan Kim

Letter 4 – Lawn Shrimp

 

Subject: What are they?
Location: Chula Vista, California
September 19, 2015 4:06 pm
We found these dead insects next to our outdoor garbage cans after a recent heavy rain We live just south of San Diego. We’ve never seen them before in our yard. Do we have an infestation?
Signature: Susan J.

Lawn Shrimp
Lawn Shrimp

Dear Susan,
Lawn Shrimp or House Hoppers, terrestrial Amphipods, generally go unnoticed in irrigated Southern California landscapes until heavy rains drive them from the garden and they die near homes.

Letter 5 – Lawn Shrimp

 

Subject: What kind of bug is this?
Location: Slidell Louisana 70461
April 18, 2016 11:05 pm
Moved into a house. 30+ years old. Sprayed insecticide around perimeter and noticed this insect/bug. I tried to observe one alive but couldn’t. The only one’s i find are dead.
Signature: Signed by the BUGMAN!!!

Lawn Shrimp
Lawn Shrimp

These terrestrial Amphipods are known as Lawn Shrimp or House Hoppers.

Letter 6 – Lawn Shrimp

 

Subject:  Help! These are in my laundry room.
Geographic location of the bug:  Houston, Texas
Date: 05/12/2019
Time: 09:13 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Please tell me what these are. I have been finding them by the door that leads outside, next to my dogs crate in the laundry room
How you want your letter signed:  Becky S

Lawn Shrimp

Dear Becky,
You have Lawn Shrimp, also known as House Hoppers.  They are introduced terrestrial Amphipods from Australia that have naturalized in California, and have also been reported in Georgia, according to BugGuide, but this is the first report we know of from Texas.  According to BugGuide their habitat is  “Moist soil and organic matter within 13 mm of the surface, often among ivy or other ground covers, mostly eucalyptus. Their exoskelton has no waxy coating to keep moisture in, so they can’t survive dryness. They drown in water, though, so they need continuously moist, but not waterlogged conditions.”  BugGuide also notes:  “These are rarely seen except when flooding or lack of moisture forces them to abandon their home in the soil in search for suitable conditions. At such times they often end up dieing on pavement or in homes and become a nuisance. Once they start appearing, there’s not much that can be done except to sweep them up- pesticides are pointless, bcause by then they’re already dying or dead.”

 

Authors

    by
  • 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.

  • 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.

27 thoughts on “Do Lawn Shrimp Bite? Debunking Myths and Clearing Confusion”

  1. Thanks for answering that question. I live in SoCal as well and just saw one in my salt water pool. I pulled him out and sure enough, he started jumping around so I put him back in the pool and then looked it up. Appreciate the expertise!

    Reply
  2. Found them at the bottom of cat’s water bowl last couple of days after several days oh heavy rain, soil saturation and flooding . So they guess they’ve hopped over to Texas, as well. Lakefront at beautiful Lake Conroe.

    Reply
  3. I just found some land shrimp out by my pool in Florida! I was swimming and saw one and did a double take. They’re so weird!

    Reply
  4. We had some heavy rains in Corona California and we found these lawn shrimp in our pool and animals water bowls…this happened for about 3 days.

    Reply
  5. confirmed sighting in Houston, Tx. Freaked out one morning after all of our rain recently. swept up hundreds by the front door (inside). walked through them in the dark barefoot, Super!…. good news is that they do die indoors quickly.

    Reply
  6. In the last couple of years I have had hundreds of these lawn shrimp come in my house. I just the other day found out what they were. I live in Pascagoula Ms. By spraying around patio door seems to have helped to keep them out.

    Reply
  7. We just had an invasion of these in our house just outside Charleston, SC! I believe they came inside during Tropical Storm Bonnie – I found a few dozen of them inside our back door.

    Reply
  8. Charleston,South Carolina my yard is infested with them every time it rains!!!! There in my house Door ways in corers on my carpet,dead Orange!,The look like MAMOTHED FLEAS!

    Reply
  9. I found these all over my house and yes I live in California. For some reason it won’t let me post any pictures. The thing that’s really bothering me is that I keep finding silk spiders on me.

    Reply
  10. Hi, I just discovered one shrimping around inside my tank! I bought some plants from Pets Warehouse weeks back and thought I’d seen movement in the grasses they’d sold me. At first, I thought it was some hideous predator that would hunt my fish in the night and kill off my shrimp, but I’m happy to learn that it’ll be a little helper for as long as it lives among the plants, as well as any others I may have mistaken as the same critter.

    Actually quite a shy, graceful swimmer and not only a “slow” climber like some websites state.

    Reply
  11. These things started appearing in Tujunga after we had pipe burst on the first floor of the apartment complex, I had never seen them before and THEY CREEPED ME THE EF OUT! LOL My cat would catch them and eat them like it was nothing but I was afraid to even smash the darn thing they are so eerie looking… Thank you for FINALLY identifying these things i still get goosebumps when i think about seeing them.. ICK

    Reply
  12. My entire driveway was cover with this bug and they were all dead last year summer of 2018. Today April of 2019 they are back dead all over my driveway only in the backyard. I have been living at this home for over 30 years and this is the first time I have seen or heard of this bug. What can I do to get rid and is it harm to animals?

    Reply
  13. Fort Worth, TX My granddaughter discovered one of these, 1 1/2 inches long, not including antennae, in our yard, not long after a heavy rain. How are they migrating? We have one damp area where house runoff keeps the red clay watered and sidewalks prevent quick drainage but the rest of our property is a 1 acre dry field.

    Reply
  14. They are in my oak trees, and I’m wondering if they are a parasite that is causing my trees to drop dead limbs. If so, how can my trees be protected against them?

    Reply
  15. Mobile, AL neighborhood
    I have a ton of these that have come out ono my back patio the last few days after heavy rain. Never saw them before.

    Reply

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