Ant Woodlouse Platyarthrus hoffmannseggii

Class Malacostraca (Malacostracans)
Order Isopoda (Woodlice)
Family Platyarthridae
Species Platyarthrus hoffmannseggii Brandt, 1833

Length 5 mm.

A small, off white woodlouse which is blind. The broad oval body, stout antennae, and its association with ants, are quite characteristic of this species. Gut contents often show through the cuticle.

Spending its entire life underground, this woodlouse feeds on ant droppings helping to keep ant nests clear, and this is why it may be tolerated by the ants.

Seen all year round wherever ants of various species (especially Lasius flavus, Lasius niger and species of Myrmica) may be found within the ants nest itself. Lifting paving slabs or large stones and rocks wherever ants may be nesting usually reveals these small, slow-moving woodlice.

Widespread across southern Britain, less so and becoming much rarer further north.

Discovered in ants nest, back garden, South Staffordshire September 2021. © Peter Hillman.

Species recorded and verified via iRecord.