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Slater / Sowbug

Slater (aka Sowbug, Porcellio sp.)

Slater (aka Sowbug, Porcellio sp.)

Structure, Appearance and Characteristics

  • Oval body, convex above and flat or hollow beneath.
  • Pale brown to dull blue in colour.
  • Can grow up to 19mm in length.
  • Head and abdomen are small.
  • Head has eyes and prominent segmented antennae.
  • Thorax is comparatively large and is composed of 7 hard individual but overlapping plates.
  • 7 pairs of legs.
  • Mostly active at night.
  • 2 prominent tail-like appendages (processes) from abdomen.
  • Become inactive during winter months because of temperature.
  • Depend on moisture to keep oxygen-absorbing gills under their bodies moist.

Life Cycle

Female gives birth to numerous, live young and carries her young in a pouch (marsupium) on the underside of the body. The brood is carries for an average of 44 days. Usually 2 new generations are produced per year depending on environmental conditions with an average of 28 young in brood. New generation are white in colour. 1st moult within 24 hours (7th pair of legs appear after 1st moult). 2nd moult during 2nd week. 3rd moult during 3rd week. 4th instar moults every 2 weeks until the animal is 20 weeks old. After 20 weeks, periods between moults are irregular.

Habitat

Prefer moist locations and are found under objects on damp ground or under vegetable debris. Have been known to bury themselves under several centimetres of soil. Can at times invade damp basements, fern houses and first floors of houses indicating large number present outside the house nearby.

Food

Feed on decaying vegetable matter.

Pest Status

In rare instances can become pests of young plants (especially in fern houses where climatic conditions are ideal). The slater does not bite and is harmless. In unusual climatic conditions (extreme wet), they can invade houses in large numbers creating concern for occupants. Their presence though is short-lived because these animals die from desiccation. Neither adults nor young are considered pests.

Control

Habitat and food requirement leaves wide variety of areas to inhabit in gardens etc. Because of this need they cannot survive away from its ideal environment thus it will not breed or survive for long indoors. A high degree of moisture is required for survival. Control of the slater is not a problem because of its outdoor survival requirements.


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