Saturday, April 26, 2014
W is for Woodlouse
The is an ugly name for an inoffensive and even beneficial creature. As children, we called them roly-polies, because when you handled one, it rolled itself into a neat little armored ball. So far as I know, I have never harmed a woodlouse in anger, and the more I know about them, the gladder I didn't.
The woodlouse came to America aboard European ships, but unlike other invasive species, such as rats, surveyors, and dogs, it has not caused much stir because it makes so little fuss, and because it's so good at munching dead leaves and turning them to compost.
You might think the woodlouse is some sort of centipede, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is actually a crustacean, and the only land-dwelling crustacean on the earth. The flavor, in case you're thinking of eating one, is like urine. So I am told by a reliable source, although this means some brave soul not only ate a woodlouse but sipped urine as a basis of comparison.