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.

Location: California

10 Responses to Lawn Shrimp

  1. Rob says:

    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!

  2. Jessica says:

    We just found a ton! Crazy lil creatures here in El Paso Texas in our saltwater pool!

  3. Cuttlepluff says:

    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.

    • bugman says:

      What you inadvertently brought home from the aquarium store is most definitely NOT a Lawn Shrimp.

      • Cuttlepluff says:

        I’m not sure why. They can’t make their way into store plants? It’s just that this looks exactly like all the pictures here. Wish I could comment with one of the pictures I took.

  4. Drew wright says:

    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

  5. Mildred Music says:

    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?

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