When out walking with the dog at this time of year, it’s always such fun to kick at the leaves along the forest trails and the drifting detritus that cover the river paths.
But underneath those crunchy bits of nature lives a minute world of important beings who we take little notice of and often kill without giving much thought.
The humble pill bug and centipede are just two important creatures that inhabit the leafy world at our feet. Prehistoric in appearance, they don’t look like much as they scurry out of our way when we turn over a log or scoop up the dry leaves of autumn, but their appetite for ants and spiders helps keep the balance in nature.
The pill bug carries it’s eggs in a small pouch, then when the young are hatched, it continues to be the transport system for the babies for the next six weeks.
The centipede lays its eggs in the soil and never looks back. This creature moults every year, extending its body parts and legs each time. If undisturbed, they can live from five to seven years.
Both arthropods love rotting wood and can be found along the banks of the Alouette rivers and surrounding forests, hiding in fallen trees and piles of leaves and branches. They are happy to munch away, breaking down organic matter to feed nutrition into the surrounding plants. They prefer damp dark places and, when exposed, die quickly unless they have a safe place to retreat to.
– By Liz Hancock, a member of the Alouette River Management Society (ARMS).