I am not a big fan of the Insect Kingdom although to be fair, everything has a place in the Universe. Woodlice, along with spiders, bother me particularly. You get the odd solitary woodlouse, walking along the skirting board with the directness of a guided missile. Put something in their way, or try to capture it and they will will extend their feelers robotically, wave them up and down to inspect the obstacle, then make a 90o turn and carry on their way. Turn over a log, or lift a plant pot, and a seething mass of scurrying ensues as these alien monsters hide from the light.

Stuff of nightmares indeed. They remind me of monster films from the 40’s and 50’s where plastic unconvincing models of dinosaurs knocked over cardboard cut out cities. One of my most memorable films, I forget the name now, featured an iguana, an obvious iguana, playing the part of a sea monster. It looked uncomfortable and sad, fake spikes stuck to its back to make it look fierce. It flickered its tongue uneasily as miniaturised humans screamed in pretend fear and fled. It’s amusing how cinematic trends change and develop. Horror to me is not a plastic dinosaur and painted blood; but a hideous burned man in a red and green jumper with knives for fingers. I’ve only ever seen the film once, such was the effect on me. A monster that COULD get you in your dreams – I had nightmares for years as generations of my cats could testify, comforting me as I awoke panicky and sweating…

CAM00618Shopping Bag Monster Demon

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…”

Likewise ‘Hellraiser’ and ‘Candyman’. I have only ever seen these films once, and although I would like to think I am a logical person, these films filled me with fear and dread, and a conviction that the creators of these characters had seen the dark side of the Universe…

NOSMOKINGTruly horrific…

Still. A place for everything and everything in its place. My son took the photos of these woodlice and although I shuddered in repulsion, it was the details… and I love a detail! I inspected them closer, and was forced to think again. The fantastic interlocking sections of armour plating, so carefully hinged to allow for flexibility and movement. Coated in shades of grey, from elephant trunk to mouse fur, inscribed in whorls like the bark of a tree. The legs, delicately jointed and small clawed feet to allow for gripping. The tiny mandibles, fluttering anxiously in search of the next mouthful of decaying wood or plant material, nothing more menacing or grotesque than that. I looked again and was charmed – almost – by the small red eyes, peering at me worriedly, and the waving feelers, as delicate as hairs and I was irresistibly reminded of an old lady, in a neat grey dress, perhaps a shopkeeper, enquiring as to what I would like…

A quarter of sherbet lemons? Some nice toffee dear?”

The woodlouse is actually a crustacean, so related to lobsters and crabs. However, I am not suggesting that you try woodlouse thermidor as they don’t taste very nice… (I haven’t tried, I’m just judging from the look on my cats’ faces whenever they have tried to eat one!) What made me re-consider woodlice is the fact that they are devoted mothers, carefully carrying their eggs in a special sac underneath their jointed shell, until they are ready for hatching. I would like to consider myself a devoted mother to both cats and children, and the nurturing quality of this little insect, or more correctly, arthropod, appealed to me.

WP_20160413_17_26_59_Pro (2)Woodlouse kebab anyone?

Next time you see a woodlouse, busily working its way around your room, or sitting peacefully under a log with its siblings and babies – look! A little miracle of evolution and God’s engineering!

All photos were taken by my son!

11 thoughts on “Woodlice…

  1. I literally have laughed out loud at the humour in this post – Thank you for that 🙂 great post! – I like the idea of looking at something seemingly ‘Grotesque’ through fresh eyes, to analyse it and realise it’s not as ‘scary’ as first impression……like most things in life I guess. Blessings

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m usually not a fan of the insect kingdom either. You may be the first person to get me to stop and consider them from a different perspective. I actually stared at the picture quite awhile to study it…and you should know that’s a HUGE deal for me. :p

    Liked by 1 person

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