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A woodlouse seen from above.
A woodlouse from below.
A woodlouse curled into a ball.


From wood +‎ louse.


  • IPA(key): /ˈwʊd.ˌlaʊs/
  • (file)


woodlouse (plural woodlice)

  1. Any of the terrestrial isopod crustaceans of suborder Oniscidea, which have a rigid, segmented exoskeleton, often being capable of rolling into a ball, and feed only on dead plant matter, usually living in damp, dark places, such as under stones or bark.
    • 1995, Olaf Breidbach; Wolfram Kutsch, editors, The Nervous Systems of Invertebrates: An Evolutionary and Comparative Approach, page 193:
      In addition, both the woodlouse and the crayfish possess an unpaired medial nerve which runs along the whole length of the ventral nerve cord, linking adjacent ganglia.
    • 2001, John L. Capinera, editor, Handbook of Vegetable Pests, page 566:
      Woodlice commonly produce offspring 1-3 times per year, with spring and autumn broods most common. Woodlice often survive for longer than a year, with longevity of 2-5 years not uncommon.
    • 2011, Ruth Owen, Creepy Backyard Invaders, page 18:
      The sections allow woodlice to bend and curve their armored bodies. Some types of woodlice can roll into a tight ball. They do this to protect themselves when threatened by a predator.
      Female woodlice carry their eggs in a liquid-filled pouch under their bodies. When the young woodlice hatch from the eggs, they crawl out of the pouch.


See also Thesaurus:woodlouse


Further reading[edit]