Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1950
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record:
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record: 1950

General Invasion History:

Limnoria pfefferi was described from Minicoy Atoll in the Indian Ocean, and is broadly distributed in the Indo-Pacific, from Mauritius to India, Indonesia, and Queensland, Australia (Menizies 1957; Nair 1984; Cookson 1990; Cookson et al. 2015), where it is presumed to be native. In the tropical Western Atlantic, it has been found from Miami, Florida and the Bahamas to Panama, Colombia, and Puerto Rico (Menzies 1957; Kensley and Schotte 1987; Markham and Donath-Hernandez 1990). The earliest Western Atlantic specimens were collected in Miami in 1950 (Menzies 1957). However, the date of introduction from the Indo-Pacific is unknown, and could have occurred in the hulls of wooden ships, centuries ago (Carlton and Ruckelshaus 1997).

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History on the East Coast:

Limnoria pfefferi is known from three specimens collected from a causeway in Miami Beach, Florida in 1950 (Menzies 1957). We do not know of any further records from US Atlantic waters, but we assume that the population is established, based on occurrences in the Bahamas and the Caribbean (Kensley and Schotte 1987; Markham et al. 1990; U.S. National Museum of Natural History 2016). To our knowledge, few studies or collections of Limnoria spp. have been made in Florida or Gulf of Mexico waters since the 1950s (U.S. National Museum of Natural History 2016).

Invasion History Elsewhere in the World:

Limnoria pfefferi has been collected in pine and hardwood test blocks, dock pilings, and in the roots of Red Mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) in the Bahamas, Belize, Quintana Roo (Mexico), Cuba, Puerto Rico, Panama and Colombia (Kensley and Schotte 1987; Markham et al. 1990; U.S. National Museum of Natural History 2016).


Limnoria pfefferi has a small, nearly cylindrical body. The cephalon (head region) is compressed and ovoid, with lateral eyes. The cephalon is distinct from the pereion (thoracic region) and freely rotates. Antennas 1 and 2 are equally anterior, with an obvious scale on Antenna 1. The flagellum of second antenna has four segments. The left mandible incisor lacks teeth, instead forming a projecting rasp-and-file device. The epipodite of the maxilliped just reaches the articulation of the first article of the palp, and is widest near the distal end, about two and one-half times as long as wide. The fifth somite of the pleon is marked dorsally with a median longitudinal Y-shaped keel. Its uropods are greatly reduced, with the exopod much shorter than the endopod, and bearing a small apical claw. The dorsal surface of the pleotelson lacks large tubercles anteriorly, but the posterior edge is lined with fine tubercles and bristles. Adults are up to 4.7 mm long, and yellow when preserved in alcohol. Description based on information from: Menzies 1957; and Cookson 1990.


Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Arthropoda
Subphylum:   Crustacea
Class:   Malacostraca
Subclass:   Eumalacostraca
Superorder:   Peracarida
Order:   Isopoda
Suborder:   Flabellifera
Family:   Limnoriidae
Genus:   Limnoria
Species:   pfefferi


Potentially Misidentified Species

Limnoria andamanensis
Indian Ocean, New Guinea, Belize (Cookson 1990).

Limnoria quadripunctata
Known mostly from temperate waters (Menzies 1957)

Limnoria sexcarinata
Known mostly from Thailand and Japan (Cookson 1990).

Limnoria tripunctata
Widespread in warm-temperate to tropical waters (Menzies 1957)



Limnoria pfefferi has separate sexes, and copulation is internal. Typically, in Limnoria spp., a single pair occupies a boring tunnel, with the female closer to the opening. The young are brooded by the female (Becker 1971). Adults and juveniles swarm seasonally, and colonize new pieces of wood. They prefer rough surfaces of relatively soft wood, preferably infected by fungi (Becker 1971). Limnoria pfefferi has been collected in pine and hardwood test blocks, rotting logs, and mangrove roots (Menzies 1957; Kensley and Schotte 1987; Cookson 1990; Markham et al. 1990; Cookson et al. 2013).



Trophic Status:




General HabitatCoarse Woody DebrisNone
General HabitatMarinas & DocksNone
General HabitatMangrovesNone
General HabitatVessel HullNone
Salinity RangePolyhaline18-30 PSU
Salinity RangeEuhaline30-40 PSU
Tidal RangeSubtidalNone
Tidal RangeLow IntertidalNone
Vertical HabitatEpibenthicNone

Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Maximum Length (mm)3.5Menzies 1957
Broad Temperature RangeNoneSubtropical-Tropical
Broad Salinity RangeNonePolyhaline-Euhaline

General Impacts

Limnoria pfefferi is one of a group of tropical limnoriids (gribbles) which are important borers in mangrove forests and tropical harbors (Pillai 1967; Nair 1984; Cookson et al. 2015). Specific impacts of L. pfefferi have not been documented.

Regional Distribution Map

Bioregion Region Name Year Invasion Status Population Status
CIO-VI None 0 Native Estab
CAR-II None 1979 Def Estab
CAR-IV None 1966 Def Estab
CAR-III None 1976 Def Estab
CAR-I Northern Yucatan, Gulf of Mexico, Florida Straits, to Middle Eastern Florida 1950 Def Estab
CIO-V None 0 Native Estab
EA-V None 0 Native Estab
EAS-VII None 0 Native Estab
EAS-III None 0 Native Estab
SP-I None 0 Native Estab
SP-II None 0 Native Estab
AUS-XIII None 0 Native Estab
CAR-V None 1964 Def Estab
S200 Biscayne Bay 1950 Def Estab
CIO-II None 0 Native Estab
CIO-I None 0 Native Estab
PAN_CAR Panama Caribbean Coast 1987 Def Estab

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude


Becker, Gunther (1971) On the biology, physiology, and ecology of marine wood-boring crustaceans., In: Gareth Jones, E. B.//Eltringham, S. K.(Eds.) Marine borers, fungi, and fouling organisms of wood.. , Brussels. Pp. 303-326

Carlton, James T.; Ruckelshaus, Mary H. (1997) Nonindigenous marine invertebrates and algae of Florida, In: Simberloff, Daniel, Schmitz, Don C., Brown, Tom C.(Eds.) Strangers in Paradise: Impact and Management of Nonindigenous Species in Florida. , Washington, D.C.. Pp. 187-201

Cookson, L. J.; Cragg, S. M.; Hendy, L. W. (2013) Wood-boring limnoriids (Crustacea, Isopoda) including a new species from mangrove forests of the Tukang Besi Archipelago, Indonesia, Zootaxa 3248: 25-34

Cookson, Laura J. (1990) Australasian Species of Limnoriidae (Crustacea: Isopoda), Memoirs of the Museum of Victoria 52(2): 137-262

Kensley, Brian, Schotte, Marilyn (1987) New records of isopod crustacea from the Caribbean, the Florida Keys, and the Bahamas, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 100(1): 216-247

Markham, John C.; Donath-Hernandez, Francisco; Villalobos-Hiriart, Jose L.; Diaz-Barriga, Antonio-Cantu (1990) Notes on the shallow-water marine Crustacea of the Caribbean coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico, Anales del Instituto de Biologia, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Serie Zoologia 61(3): 405-446

Menzies, Robert J.; Glynn, Peter W. (1968) The common marine custaceans of Puerto Rico, Studies of the Fauna of Curacao and other Caribbean Islands 27: 1-33

Menzies, Robert James (1957) The marine borer family Limnoriidae (Crustacea, Isopoda). Part I: Northern and Central America: Systematics, distribution, and ecology, Bulletin of Marine Science of the Gulf and Caribbean 7(2): 101-200

Nair, N. Balakrishnan (1984) The problem of marine timber destroying organisms along the Indian coast, Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences 93(3): 203-223

Pillai, N. Krishna (1967) Proceedings of the symposium on Crustacea, Pt. V Marine Biological Association of India, <missing place>. Pp. 1274-1283

U.S. National Museum of Natural History 2002-2021 Invertebrate Zoology Collections Database.