Nature at your Home: Common Rough Woodlouse (Porcellio scaber)

Do you smell ammonia in your house? It may be the presence of woodlice! They do not excrete urine, but give off ammonia gas through their exoskeleton instead, which is why places where they live in large numbers smell bad.

Common Rough Woodlouse from BHL.

Woodlice are one of the few crustaceans (crayfishes or shrimps) that live permanently on dry land. They are usually small, reaching 1.5 cm in length. For respiration, they use a system of thin tubes in their abdomen. They prefer moist environments, like basements and building walls. During the day, they normally hide under rocks, wood or fallen leaves. They live on dead plant material. Unless they multiply to very large numbers, they are practically harmless. The original home of these animals is Europe, from where they have spread throughout the world.

Various Woodlice from BHL.

After mating, females carry about twenty fertilized eggs on the underside of their bodies, until the young hatch. While adults have seven pairs of legs, freshly hatched young bears only six pairs. When woodlice molt, they first discard the rear part of their exoskeleton, then two to three days later, the front part is discarded. They can live up to two and a half years.

Woodlouse from EoL. Image is under CC BY of Stanislav Krejčík.

For more information about Common Rough Woodlouse visit Biodiversity Library Exhibition. Stay tuned!

Nature at your Home: Beech Marten (Martes foina)

Have you spotted beech martens in your area? If so, be careful, they love to gnaw automobile wires in half! They are, however, also useful and important distributors of seeds of fruiting plants!

Beech marten from BHL.

Typical beech marten is around 60 cm long, gray-brown in color and with a white ruff. They belong to the family Mustelidae, like Badgers, Otters or Weasels for instance. Martens are mainly nocturnal, living in places with plenty of cover, like edges of forests, rocky terrain, quarries and near human dwellings. They move in short jumps and are excellent climbers. In high mountain ranges during summer months, martens may be found up to 4000 meters elevation. They are often found in attics or old structures, where they hunt for rodents, birds, eggs, small invertebrates and various remnants of food. Martens mate in the summer. Geographically, martens occur in Europe and Asia, and were transported to USA.

Combat between otter and marten from Brehm's Life of animals.

The females give birth in February or March, after a six-week long gestation period. Average litter size is three cubs. They are blind for the first five weeks, and leave the mother at around two months of age. In captivity, martens live up to seventeen years. In nature, where they have many enemies, they usually live for only three years. In captivity, young martens may be readily tamed, and with proper care, remain tame even after maturing.

Skull of marten from EoL.

One recommendation at the end, martens may be chased out of a home by distributing dropping of large wild cats where they reside. For more information visit Biodiversity Library Exhibition. Stay tuned!

Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina)

Did you know that silverfish belongs to an ancient order of insects (Zygentoma), which appeared on the Earth in the Carboniferous period (360-300 million years ago)? Or that silverfish do not need to drink, because they absorb water from moist air through a specially adapted anus?

Silverfish from BHL.

Silverfish are miniscule wingless insects, whose body is covered with silvery scales. They are mostly  nocturnal, when they seek out humid areas (bathrooms, toilets, basements), or places where there is plenty of food and shelter (bakeries, pastry-shops). Don't worry, the presence of silverfish in your home does not indicate lack of cleanliness, but more likely abundant hiding places. In small numbers they are essentially harmless, but they can cause problems when they multiply.

Silverfish by Miroslav Deml from EOL.

Silverfish avoid light and can often be spotted trying to hide in a corner after the lights are turned on in a room. They live on substances containing protein and saccharides, like paper, books, tapestries, cotton, leather, silk, flour, sugar, cereals and glue. Silverfish also live in nature, usually dwelling under rocks, fallen leaves, bark and such. They lay up the three eggs at a time in tiny cracks and can live up to six years.

Learn more about silverfish on Nature at your Home. Stay tuned!