Our family has 2 cats and a dog. We keep food and water bowls outside for them. We clean and refill the water bowls every day. Almost every morning, the water bowl is teeming with small aquatic insects of some kind, which look and act like little shrimp. I would guess them to be 5 to 8 mm in length, on average.

What are these, and where are they coming from? They appear to be aquatic, since they survive and swim in the water for hours -- but how do they get there?

We live in central Florida, USA.

Insects in the water bowl More insects in the water bowl

  • $\begingroup$ They are not fleas are they? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ No, much larger than fleas. I would guess them to be 5 to 8 mm in length. I'll add that to the question. $\endgroup$
    – Haydentech
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 20:53
  • $\begingroup$ After more research, my leading theory is that these are springtails. Springtails are water-loving. They come in linear and globular forms, and these seem to match pictures I've seen of the linear form. The globular form look more like a spider. If anyone can confirm this identification, that would be great! $\endgroup$
    – Haydentech
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ I live in south west Florida and found them in my dogs water bowl this morning! I’ve had saltwater aquariums for years and I am very familiar with these. They are definitely amphipods. I am in shock though as I can’t imagine where they came from. We are not close to the beach and I haven’t had my aquarium set up since I lost it in hurricane Irma in September. So weird. They must be around in the back yard around my banana trees or something. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 12:19

1 Answer 1


They are probably some species of amphipod.

According to that link, two species common to Florida are Talitroides topitotum and Talitroides allaudi, though there are dozens of species in the US alone. In some areas, amphipods may be known commonly as "scuds."

These guys like to live in fairly wet places, depending on species - on the beach, in decomposing mulch/leaf litter/grass. They seem to be finicky with moisture: they tend to seek drier areas when it rains, often bringing them onto sidewalks or indoors, then they get dry and look for moisture. I'm guessing this is how they end up in your cat bowl: you certainly are not the first one to observe this.

https://www.whatsthatbug.com/2004/11/10/lawn-shrimp-3/ enter image description here

I'm not sure at all about the precise species...the species most commonly encountered by people on the sidewalks and such don't seem like they would survive long truly immersed in water since they avoid rain, but I wasn't able to find anything definitive on that - maybe their behavior is to avoid very wet but they can still survive immersed for awhile.


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