Common to freshwater ponds and slow-moving rivers, water lice (Asellus aquaticus) live among decaying roots and leaves close to shore. The lice are most frequently seen during the warmer months, recognizable by their nine-sectioned bodies, and are often seen with their white offspring carried under their bodies. They scurry through underwater weeds and other vegetation, looking for particles of decaying plants or animals upon which to feed.
Anything They Want
Water lice are omnivorous scavengers, happily feeding on the flesh of dead fish and rotting plant matter. When decaying matter is not available, they feed on the shoots and leaves of fresh plants, much like their landlubbing cousin, the wood louse. Left unchecked, water lice without enough detritus to eat can cause extensive damage to a decorative pond. Water lice populations are controlled by pond fish and water spiders.
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