The Woodlice of Nottinghamshire
 
The recording of Woodlice has always been limited. Even just over a century ago, when Victorian naturalists were at their peak collecting and recording Nottinghamshire's flora and fauna, none of them had a real interest in Woodlice.

At least that's the way it seems, with just eight species of Woodlice recorded historically in Nottinghamshire during the 1800 and 1900's.

On the face of it, it would seem that Woodlice don't have much going for them to sow the seed of interest within the minds of young naturalists.

They do however, prove to be popular with children on minibeast hunts though, especially when showing them the developing eggs or young being carried around on the underside of the female. Woodlice perhaps can then after all, help to play a part in raising awareness of our natural history within the next generation of naturalists.

 
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Historical records and recording

As prolific as the Victorian naturalists were, it seems that only J.W Carr himself, did any formal Woodlice recording in the county, although C. E. Pearson did provide records of both Porcellio dilatatus from a Chilwell greenhouse and Porcellionides pruinosus from both Chilwell and Lowdham in the early 1900's. Porcellio dilatatus and Porcellionides pruinosus were both recently rediscovered in the county in late 2015 and early 2016, after a century's absence.

Between them, Carr and Pearson recorded Armadillidium vulgare (Common Pill Woodlouse), Oniscus asellus (Common Shiny Woodlouse), Philoscia muscorum (Common Striped Woodlouse), Platyarthrus hoffmannseggi (Ant Woodlouse), Porcellio dilatatus, Porcellio scaber (Common Rough Woodlouse) Porcellionides pruinosus (Plum Woodlouse) and Trichoniscus pusillus (Common Pygmy Woodlouse) in Nottinghamshire..

Some recent Nottinghamshire additions

With presently around 40 known UK species, Woodlice recording and interest has gathered little momentum, although there are several regular Woodlice recorders based around the UK. So if you want to contribute significant and quite unique information on a county level, then an interest in the recording of Isopods (Woodlice) is perhaps the way forward.

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On the positive side, there is much to be said in favour of recording Woodlice. As invertebrates go, identification is limited to below 60 species, they can be found in any location type and throughout the year. Only in extremely cold conditions, will they become more difficult to find as they move deeper into the substrate to avoid hard frosts.

Until a few years ago, we had done very little work on Woodlice ourselves, but within a few months recorded the pink Androniscus dentiger (Rosy Woodlouse) and Armadillidium depressum as seemingly new to Nottinghamshire during 2013.

In early 2016 Derek Whiteley added Trichoniscoides albidus to the county list, from sites near Newark and in September 2016 we recorded Armadillidium nasatum from Southwell Garden Centre. With such a small county list, more species must surely be awaiting discovery.

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The two species which everyone knows are Oniscus asellus (Common Shiny Woodlouse) and Porcellio scaber (Common Rough Woodlouse). Both species are extremely common in gardens and are good species to learn and get to grips with, as far as Woodlouse identification goes.

None of Nottinghamshire's eight historically recorded species seem to have declined in the 100 years since Carr's book was published, which is something that cannot be said for most invertebrate orders. Then again, we have very little information to go on and once again, Carr's book provided us with the only historical information we have and there appears to be no additional modern records aside from our own.

     
Rosy Woodlouse Androniscus dentiger (Verhoeff, 1908)
A small (4-5mm) Woodlouse which is found under logs and stones. This beautifully coloured species turned up under well rotted former railway sleepers on the site of the former Bevercotes and Warsop Main Pit Tops in April 2013, which appear to be the first records for Nottinghamshire. Likely to be widespread across much of the county.
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Trichoniscoides albidus (Budde-Lund, 1880)
This small Woodlouse was only discovered as being new to Nottinghamshire in January 2016, when found by Derek Whiteley at two sites on the River Trent at Farndon near Newark. In early February 2017, we found it in numbers under large items of flood refuse at Stoke Bardolph. Likely to be common and widespread along rivers throughout Nottinghamshire, but especially along the Trent Valley. Similar in appearance to Trichoniscus pusillus and usually found under stones in wet/damp locations.
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Common Pygmy Woodlouse Trichoniscus pusillus (Brandt, 1833)
An extremely common and very small Woodlouse, with a length of just 4mm at maximum. These are often found under logs in damp woodland habitats, but it is found in a wide variety of sites, including urban gardens. Almost certainly widespread over most of Nottinghamshire.
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Common Striped Woodlouse Philoscia muscorum (Scopoli, 1833)
A common Woodlouse, usually found in more vegetated areas and regularly encountered on low foliage after dark. A fairly fast moving and well marked species, which has turned up in urban and suburban gardens.
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Ant Woodlouse Platyarthrus hoffmannseggi (Brandt, 1833)
A small, but regularly encountered white Woodlouse, which is far more widespread in the county than our distribution map would suggest. It spends its entire life underground in ant nests, with Lasius niger, Lasius flavus and Myrmica rubra, being the commonest host species for this 3-4mm long Woodlouse.
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Common Shiny Woodlouse Oniscus asellus ssp. asellus (Linnaeus, 1758)
A very common Woodlouse, which is probably present in every single km square in Nottinghamshire. It is found in all habitats including urban gardens and is one of our most familiar species.
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Porcellio dilatatus (Brandt, 1833)
Nationally described as being rare, Porcellio dilatatus is typically a Woodlouse of synanthropic sites and often found on or around farms. In Nottinghamshire, the only known record was from a greenhouse in Chilwell in the early 1900's and there were no subsequent records, until we found it present in an old milking shed at a Lambley farm in January 2016 (Pendleton, T.A. and Pendleton, D.T.). Despite seemingly being so rare in the county, it is likely to be present at other Nottinghamshire farms.
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Common Rough Woodlouse Porcellio scaber (Latreille, 1804)
An extremely common Woodlouse across the whole of Nottinghamshire and probably present in every square Km of the county. It is found under logs and stones etc, often in large numbers.
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Painted Woodlouse Porcellio spinicornis (Say, 1818)
A common and well distributed Woodlouse over most of the UK, although large areas devoid of records, are more likely representative of recorder coverage than species distribution. In Nottinghamshire, Porcellio spinicornis was previously known only from a single West Bridgford record in 1975 (Holdich, D.M.) but we found this Woodlouse to be common underneath loose mortar on Churches at Edwinstowe and Cuckney in March 2015. Speciemens can be much more distinctively marked and coloured than the individuals shown in the accompanying photographs.
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Plum Woodlouse Porcellionides pruinosus (Brandt, 1833)
A common and well distributed Woodlouse over most of the UK and presumably in Nottinghamshire, although there have been only two recent records. Despite the scarity of county records, Porcellionides pruinosus will very likely be encountered within the manure heaps of many Nottinghamshire farms. The individual photographed was found at Tug Bridge Farm near Eakring in December 2015, just a few weeks after one was found at Brackenhurst near Southwell (Heeney, W. and Skinner, M. . Lugg, K. and Lugg, B.).
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Armadillidium depressum (Brandt, 1833)
A large Woodlouse with the ability to roll into a slightly open ball when threatened. This characteristic is a useful technique in helping to determine identity, but should not be used alone when confirming identification. Armadillidium depressum was a surprise find on the wall of Carr Bank Park, on Bath Lane in Mansfield, when found tucked into a small eroded piece of stonework and measured 18mm in length. Has been recorded at the same location since. Generally a Woodlouse of the south-west UK.
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Armadillidium nasatum (Budde-Lund, 1885)
Discovered as new to Nottinghamshire in September 2016, when several specimens were found under a small bag of sand lying on gravel at the Southwell Garden Centre. Armadillidium nasatum is rather patchily distributed across the UK south of the Humber. Fairly similar to Armadillidium vulgare, A. nasatum is surprisingly quick to move when disturbed. It is often recorded from old quarries, garden centres and brownfield sites and has been well recorded in neighbouring Leicestershire for years (Daws, J.) and should eventually turn up at more sites in Nottinghamshire.
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Common Pill Woodlouse Armadillidium vulgare (Latreille, 1804)
A common Woodlouse which could easily be mistaken for the Pill Millipede (Glomeris marginata). It is usually found under logs or stones, but does not seem to be widespread in the county. However, it can be found in small numbers at Warsop Main Pit Top and at many other sites in the Mansfield area. Armadillidium vulgare rolls into a complete, enclosed ball in defence.
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An Atlas of Nottinghamshire Woodlice
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      Despite the near certainty of at least two species of Woodlouse being present in every single square kilometer of the county, the recording of these particularly common and easily accessible invertebrates in Nottinghamshire has always been limited.

Even when the great Victorian naturalists were at their peak, collecting and recording our local invertebrate fauna over a century ago, virtually none of them seemed to have any real interest in Woodlice and there were just eight species on the Nottinghamshire list by the turn of this century.

This first revision continues to produce up to date distribution maps of all the Woodlice recorded in the county over recent years and includes data for Porcellio spinicornis, found for the first time in 2015.

Published October 2015

 
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