Per the ancient lore, part 16

unidentified isopod, probably Ligiidae on sand in Melbourne, Florida
As I type this first draft, I have just submitted this image to BugGuide.net for identification, since my initial searches turned up nothing; I have the stopwatch going on my desk right now to see how long it takes before someone replies.

This is, naturally, from the Arthropods folder – actually, the first of six (so far,) because I limit the contents of the folders to around 4,000 images to prevent thumbnail programs from taking forever to open them. Which says nothing of the slide pages in the filing cabinet alongside me. Yeah, I gots a few bug pics…

This trilobite-looking cuss was diddybopping across the sand in my usual haunt on the Indian River Lagoon, back in 2004, and I managed to get a couple of frames that were acceptably sharp – I don’t recall for sure, but I’m imagining that this wasn’t the easiest thing to do, since insects of this nature don’t tend to be lethargic and contemplative; I’ve had more than a few sessions where I did strange contortions while kneeling or splayed on the ground, trying desperately to keep the little bastard in the frame, much less in focus. The old jingling-the-keys trick, which works pretty well to get dogs and kids to pause for a moment and look at you curiously, doesn’t have any effect on arthropods for some reason…

It took me ten minutes to type that above (well, and upload the image and related jazz,) and I have my first reply from BugGuide – yes, they’re that fast, more often than not. That initial guess is family Ligiidae, a member of the woodlouse (pillbug) class often called rock slaters. Which reminded me of the times I’ve seen colonies of similar critters swarming over the rocks in some areas on the coast, though what I was seeing tended to be much bigger than this one. Harmless of course, but the numbers and rapid movements are enough to stir the creeps in most people.

Of the various images that are connected to that family, Ligia exotica, which may go under the colloquial name of “wharf roach,” looks the closest to me, though BugGuide doesn’t provide a range of sizes for the species. But I’m not even going to tag this tentatively as such, because there are so many variations in the arthropod kingdom that there could be multiple, even dozens, of species that look ‘close.’ But, now I have a goal of doing some much more detailed pics of the little buggers next time I see them.

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