Water Louse

Water Louse

Caecidotea sp.

Click on each photo thumbnail to enlarge.

A small isopod, about 3/4 inch (20 mm) long with a seven segmented body (abdomen) and two legs on each segment. The cephalothorax (head and thorax combined) contains the eyes, mouthparts and two sets of antennae (visible in photo B). There are two paddle-like structures attached to the larger rounded structure at the end of the abdomen. This creature was identified by experts at BugGuide.com.

These common isopods are aquatic and live in rivers, streams and ponds in this area. The individual shown was photographed on the shore of the Missouri River in Fontenelle Forest.

Little is known about the habits of these isopods. They are thought to be scavengers in their aquatic environment. They are in the same order as woodlice and have the same seven-segmented bodies with two legs on each segment. There are more than 80 species in the genus Caecidotea and more are being discovered and described regularly. At least one species is known to have become extinct because of flooding of caves in Tennessee in 1967 by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The content of NatureSearch is provided by dedicated volunteer Naturalists of Fontenelle Forest who strive to provide the most accurate information available. Contributors of the images retain their copyrights. The point of contact for this page is: Loren Padelford.