Land prawns are Amphipods, comprising of an order of crustacean, shrimp-like forms that are mostly marine and freshwater. While some species are terrestrial, they still require moist habitats. It is the terrestrial species that are sometimes referred to as ‘lawn shrimp’ due to their similarity to true shrimp.
Land prawns don’t have the hard shell covering like other crustaceans. They are elongated and compressed laterally and their abdominal segments appear fused. They have two pairs of antennae (one set is very small), well developed eyes and chewing mouth parts. Adults range from 5-20mm in length and vary in colour from pale brown to greenish to brownish black when alive but often turn red when they die.
They live under stones or decaying vegetation, jump about like fleas, are scavengers and active at night.
Most species produce a single brood that hatch within 1-3 weeks. Eggs are deposited within a small pouch on the underside of the adult female. The young leave the pouch over an 8 day period (when the female has her first moult during mating - the moult lasts approximately 1 hour). Most species have a life cycle of up to 1 year.
After rains, large numbers of land prawns can migrate into garages or under doors of houses where they soon die.
You can limit land prawns from entering your home by taking a few simple precautions, - ensure there is adequate drainage in areas around buildings or structures – attach weather strips to doors – keep mulch away from the home and make sure it is dried out and turned regularly – clean pool and pond filters regularly.
Did you know?
• The body of an amphipod is divided into 13 segments
• Amphipods are known as ‘scuds’ which means to move or run quickly
• Amphipods means two kinds of feet
• After rain and in optimal conditions, there can be up to 10,000 land prawns per square meter