Documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO MY WOODLOUSE

I was out photographing dandelions when I found this one by a pipe leading from a meter box.

April 26th 2013

Of course, it may not be a dandelion. There are lots of yellow flowered plants which look a bit like this and have seed clocks and green leaves and . . . 

And if it is . . . what kind of Dandelion? Tim Rich of the National Botanic Garden of Wales left a note on an iSpot entry to say there are at least 235 species of dandelion in Britain so I won't even try to guess. Not that I mind much, this not knowing. I'm a dandelion fan. To see them is almost enough.

Anyway . . . there I was, crawling along the pavement, trying to get a good angle when I met, crawling towards me . . . a woodlouse. My shadow fell across it. It stopped. I moved back. The sun fell on it - and it continued on its way. I leant forward. The suddenly renewed shadow stopped it in its tracks. Lots of insects, I've found, react instantly to changes in light and shadow and will 'freeze' - or fly. (Not that a woodlouse is an insect - it's a crustacean. Isn't life complicated?) (And woodlice don't fly!) This (the light and shadow thing) can be handy to know if you want to take a photograph. Though it's not such a handy fact if your particular insect/crustacean will only stay still in the shade. Nor is it a long term handy-ness if your woodlouse learns to ignore these sudden changes in light and decides to barge on regardless - as 'mine' did.

So, what kind of woodlouse? Africa Gomez, of the University of Hull, has an interesting post about woodlice on her BugBlog where she mentions there are over forty-five British species of woodlice. Not quite as many as there are of dandelions but . . . still more than I can name!

I don't know whether it had anywhere particular in mind when it set out on its walk or if my leaning over it diverted it from its path but, fairly quickly, it decided to do a loop, march on through light and shade and head away towards the wall . . .

April 26th 2013

. . . where little plants have begun to grow beside a down pipe.

I know you are unlikely to take my advice and kneel on the pavement to see what you can see but . . . there's a lot going on down there.

April 26th 2013

There it goes!

P.S. This is a larger Rough Woodlouse I came across last August.

Rough Woodlouse - Porcellio scaber - August 19th 2012

Isn't it beautiful?

Thanks to Tim Rich (National Botanic Garden of Wales) we now have a link to a 'Plant Crib' on different kinds of dandelion. Click HERE.

12 comments:

ADRIAN said...

The last picture is a beauty.

I never knew there was anything but one dandelion.

squirrelbasket said...

Oh no! I thought there was only one dandelion, too. There is always so much to learn...
Love the woodlouse - and the last picture is BEAUTIFUL.
Keep up the good work :)

Mark Willis said...

I'm glad that Woodlice are small. They look very scary when magnified!

lindaakacraftygardener said...

Very interesting critter. Who knew there were so many types of dandelions?

Κωστής Τζαγκαράκης said...

Little beauties.
Costas

colleen said...

Brilliant!

Dimple said...

A dandelion is a dandelion to me, and they're blooming in my lawn now!

Now I know what a woodlouse is: some in this country can roll into a ball and are called pill bugs, and others don't roll and are called sow bugs. Of course, there may be more than two varieties...I've never studied to find out.

Interesting!

flightplot said...

Fascinating post and pictures.
I don't mind dandelions, unlike many gardeners. Flighty xx

Gerald (SK14) said...

definitely a dandelion - they seem to be late this year - you can keep yer louse - is the seperate tweet button at the bottom of the post any different from the one in the posted line? I try to avoid duplication.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams said...

I bet that all of those 235 species of Dandelions are all hanging out on our lawns...

They do have pretty yellow flowers, and I've heard they make good wine.

Jen

dreamfalcon said...

I love the woodlouse photo :-) Is/was it eating that other bug lying flat in front of it? It looks like there is one alive in front of the photo, maybe the next meal...

Oh my, so many Dandelions...

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Thanks Adrian. The woodlouse in the last picture was much bigger than the one I was observing by the dandelion - though I think they are of the same kind - so it was easier to focus on in the moments when it stopped still.

Hello Squirrel Basket. It would be interesting to find out how common all these varieties of dandelion are - whether it's worth looking for them.

Hi Mark. Certainly wouldn't want to meet a large woodlouse - maybe it would be a kind of armadillo with slug-like features?

Linda - I'm being reassured that I was not the only one not to know how many varieties of dandelion there are. I wonder if there is a similar number in Canada.

Hi, Κωστής. Agreed!

Thanks Colleen.

Hello Dimple - I think you are not sharing my enthusiasm either for dandelions or woodlice! The woodlice which roll up - they were familiar to me in my childhood when I lived in another part of the country, so I grew up thinking that was a feature of all woodlice - that they could roll into balls.

Glad you too like dandelions, Flighty.

Hello Gerald. I've been rather dense and unobservant about the tweet button on your blog. I don't know why because that row of options is common on many and I don't usually have trouble finding it. Must be something very specific to do with me and the background colour. Now I see it, I'll use it.

Hello Jen. I think I've tried Dandelion wine but can't remember anything about the flavour. (Which may suggest there's nothing special about the flavour to remember?)

Hello Natalie. That dead creature in front of the second woodlouse . . . This picture is cropped from a larger one and, until I enlarged it, I had not noticed the dead one was there. When I saw it, it explained (sort of) something which had puzzled me at the time. The woodlouse was walking along from the right when, suddenly, it stopped and didn't seem to want to go further. The change in its behaviour was so marked I wondered if it was injured or ill and peered at it to see what was wrong. When I was preparing the post, and saw the 'skeleton' it made me wonder if that was what it was reacting to.