Lawn shrimp and Forrest Gumps day off

lawn shrimp size pestcemetery.comThe call doesn’t come in very often but it seems to happen around this time of year after we have heavy rains that some homes have waves of shrimp coming in under there front or garage door. This creature which is not an insect but a crustacean is so odd that the reaction of customers can be one of panic or amazement. Much like the movie Forrest Gump when he hit the mother load of shrimp after the big storm those ‘shrimp’ are already there just under our feet but the excess moisture gets them moving and that’s when we see them. Lots of them!

Terrestrial Amphipods (Lawn shrimp) are relatives of Hermit crabs and more traditional sea creatures we think of but have adapted to live on land and do just fine. There are about 90 species of Amphipods in the U.S. and Canada and none are harmful that I know of or even considered a pest. Also called ‘house hoppers’ or ‘big red fleas’ this creature needs semi aquatic conditions and eats organic or decaying animal matter. Sometimes confused with springtails, homeowners or pest control professionals alike will spray the yard for control but this often misses the mark. Amphipods also live on beaches, their hopping and resemblance to fleas leads people to believe a beach area is infested with the blood sucking insect but it is just the harmless Amphipod.

Generally only one brood is made per year and the eggs are laid in a pouch. The babies look like the adult and the complete life cycle is nolawn shrimp feeding more than one year but numbers can get into the thousands with extremely wet seasons. Lawn shrimp need water but too much will drive them out to seek better conditions. Lacking a waxy shell (exoskeleton) like an insect they don’t hold moisture and dry out quickly and for this reason many homeowners come home from work or wake up in the morning to maybe hundreds of dead shrimp at their front door.

Control measures are few but include good drainage for your mulched areas and keeping things like potted plants or lawn ornaments elevated. Wood piles and other such objects directly on the ground can also attract large numbers of the lawn shrimp because of the moisture it holds. For the most part these invasions are far and few between so a dust pan and broom is all that’s needed.

mama explains pestcemetery.comWell it’s that time of year and I’m sure we’ll get a few calls, usually for me this happens at the end of a long day or when I’m scheduled to have a rare day off and the oddity of this creature won’t allow the callers to accept just a phone confirmation of what it is. So I hop in the truck and head across town and much like Forrest I tell the story of the lawn shrimp to a completely enthralled customer. They don’t know whether to believe me or not because this story seems too fantastic to be true. Since excess rain triggers these events I get another call and explain to the people I have to run. It just might be my imagination but I think I hear them calling as I pull away from the drive, Run Bug Doctor, Run!

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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  • Jb2cabo

    We were just “invaded”by BILLIONS of lawn shrimp. I’m not exagerating. Our pavers are now grouted in pick shrimp. The patio and house smell sooooo bad. How do you get the smell out of the house???? Does anyone have a suggestion besides the airfreshener & carpet cleaning? What kills them and keeps them from coming back up??

  • Fortunately they are very short lived. A vacuum will be your best ally and some say water the area just outside to keep them happy in the moisture so they won’t go on the move.
    Thanks for reading
    The Bug Doctor

  • Jeffkonstanzer

    Rain, Rain, and more Rain. Here in So Cal we have just had and are having a huge rain storm. So, when I went out and looked at the small strange things in the pool, I noted they were moving. All of them Shrimp Bugs. Living and surviving in the water. So, no jacuzzi for a while. What can be used to minimize their existance in our grass? General insecticide?

  • Hey Jeff,

    Insecticide won’t help much. Just put a towel or something at the bottom of the door to keep them from coming in. It’s amazing to me that they are in the ground the whole time and we never see them even when we dig to plant a flower. Once the flooding stops, they’ll go away.

  • I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am bookmarking your feeds also .

  • RebekahSchutz

    I’ve been sweeping these things up by the dozen on the first floor of my townhouse. I’ve seen they are in North America, Europe, Austrailia, but I live in Japan. Are they prominent here also or could I have brought them over while moving? I read that they turn redish when they’re dead and they’re all red, so I’m assuming they’re all dead (yaaaay!). It concerns me that I keep finding them in my home and don’t know what to do.

  • It’s highly doubtful you transported any because it’s almost impossible to even find these critters in the soil until they get flooded out. When exposed to light or unearthed they disappear very quickly. They are found around the world including Japan- but different species . This link may help you

    No treatment is needed and perhaps just a towel at the bottom of the front door will keep them out til this episode subsides.

  • Bryan

    What a helpful site. We found these, rather mysteriously, heaped in the corner of our spare bedroom and our local bug doctor hadn’t come across them before. You’ve really reassured us, many thanks.

  • Glad to help- Thanks for visiting my site.

  • Ali

    Thank you for your site! I freaked out when I saw about 20 of these hoping around my house. First I thought they were fleas from my cat so I doused her in flea medicine and threw her out. Then I thought maybe they were baby centipedes (I live in Oahu) and I flipped. I sat on my kitchen table and sprayed them Lysol and tried not to cry. Finally, i decided they weren’t centipedes ( due to some thorough google image research) and found your site! Thank the lord, theyre not poisonous biting centipedes but teeny tiny harmless little shrimp. Thank you, thank you, I can finally get down from the table and walk to my bed without having a heart attack. Hopefully my cat forgives me…

  • Glad to help— Hopefully your cat won’t hold a grudge…lol

  • shrimpwatcher

    I live on Oahu, too, and just found them – like a thousand of them – dead on my back porch. I didn’t know what they were. I’d never seen these before, I wonder if they’re new to Oahu or something?

  • Most likely they’ve been there a long time–they don’t surface much, usually only after a heavy rain.

  • kat

    I live in Orlando and for 2 weeks we have woke up to hundreds of
    These. Not knowing what they were was driving us crazy.
    But no long need to worry. I search everywhere to find this and today
    we now know. And yes it has been pouring rain…god bless & thanks

  • Hi Kat,
    Glad he information helped… I’m only an hour up the road from you and we’ve been running across the town…you guessed it…chasing shrimp lol

  • Jana

    I live in Ocoee and for the past three days have been seeing them in my house in the two rooms closest to the front door. A few years ago I had them on my back screenroom. I thought it was due to a leak in the screenroom roof. I think my house gutters in the front of the house are clogged, which may explain why I have so many this year. There are some on the back patio as well, but none on the screenroom …yet. They are creapy!!! They are all dead.

  • They’ll soon disappear as the weather dries up–but they’re there– just below our feet

  • Janice

    I am seeing these by the hundreds in my pool after a heavy rain. Saw them for the first time last year but are 3 times as bad this year. I can’t believe how many there are! Once they settle on the bottom there will be large piles of them on the floor of the pool. I just vacuum them out.

  • It’s amazing that they’re just under our feet at all times.

  • Janice

    Kids get a little squimish, and my son-in-law wanted to know if we could eat them! Gross. We live in Valdosta, Georgia I think they eat just about anything here!

  • beachbum

    We have never seen these before this year. And there are HUNDREDS! Glad I came across your website! It really made me feel better that the sand fleas haven’t eaten miracle grow and mutated! :/

  • Yea!!! That wouldn’t be good……

  • linda

    thanks for the info, you’ve no idea what a happy little bug you’ve made me.

  • Sounds like a weight was taken off your shoulders–Glad I could be a part of that.


  • Karin

    I don’t care if they are not harmful. I just want them gone. I hate using poison but for them I will make and exception. Thousands of the little horrors come in every night. I can’t step out of the front door without sinking into mounds of the hideous little pests. How can I kill them? There must be something – please let there be something?

  • There is no effective treatment with could try and dry out the surrounding area and make sure your entry way (door) is well sealed at the bottom.

  • jeff

    Hey bug doctor are they harnful to eat, maybe my chickens will takecare of them

  • I don’t think they’d hurt your chickens but since they live under the soil, I doubt they’d help till it was too late.

  • Steffanie

    I need help! For the last two days I have noticed hundreds of them in our pool. Today we tracked them to an area of ivy and bushes behind the pool. They have to travel about 20 feet to get to the pool. Why are they going to the pool?? How can we stop them? BTW it hasn’t rained here in months. I live in Southern California and this is the first time in 10 years I have seen these guys! Thanks!

  • Katerina

    Maybe they are thirsty.

  • Too much water drives them out as I describe but too little can do the same… Katerina is right..They are heading to the water to try and survive. It should be short lived and I wouldnt do a thing

  • DT

    Thanks for this article, just what I was looking for! We had unusually heavy rains here in Louisiana and I found maybe 50 of them along the baseboard in the kitchen, on several occasions, appearing overnight and dead in the morning, just like you said.
    Glad to hear they are harmless, will just continue to sweep them up.