Lawn shrimp, sometimes called shrimp bugs, are related to sand hoppers or sand fleas. They are among 90 species of the Talitridae family found in North America.
The appropriately named lawn shrimp is a land dwelling version of the marine shrimp. It is green to brownish-black, elongated and 3/16" to 3/4" in length. Lawn shrimp have flat bodies divided into 7 segments, each with its own pair of leg-like appendages. The crustaceans have well-developed round eyes and chewing mouthparts, and two sets of antennae, one large and one very small.
Although they are land dwellers, lawn shrimp need moisture to survive. They live in mulch and moist ground about ½ inch from the surface. Lawn shrimp feed on leaf mold, rotting mulch, and other organic matter.
When it rains, lawn shrimp can drown—they lack a hard outer shell to protect them from water. During heavy rains lawn shrimp seek higher ground and migrate to the surface. For a few days they may be seen by the thousands jumping around on lawns and sidewalks. When the rain ends, lawn shrimp dry out quickly, die, and turn red.
Lawn shrimp can be controlled by keeping mulch from getting too wet during dry seasons. When it rains, weather stripping, house and garage doors will prevent lawn shrimp from entering you home.
Lawn shrimp can be a nuisance but they don’t bite and are not harmful.