How The Other Half Live

Crawford Estate, Lowth Road, London, SE5

Whilst humans go about their daily lives, scurrying in and out of their big brick buildings, here, amongst this delicious leaf litter, there is a whole community of little animals living where these large and unexpected mushrooms have burst forth.

Snails, woodlice, earwigs, millipedes, beetle larvae, fully-fledged beetles, slugs, earthworms…all manner of minibeasts abide here. Many are intent on doing the very important job of munching up dead leaves, as well as any dead animals they come across, in order to begin the vital process of recycling nutrients from the dead stuff, back into the soil, ready to be remade into new leaves and other growing parts. These little animals are called detritivores.

Others, such as spiders, carnivorous beetles and centipedes, spend their time importantly munching up the detritivores to keep their numbers in check. Luckily there are such things as birds, lizards and shrews to return the favour.

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