In what might be described as the world’s most destructive termite problem, Hotboro Island is actually being eaten away by isopods only about an inch long. Isopods are not in fact insects, but primitive crustaceans ranging in size from the size of a pin to the size of a bowling ball. Inhabitants of neighboring Higohihiroshima had been noting the steady erosion of the island for years. After each tsunami, parts of the island would break off and disappear. When scientists finally examined the remnants of the island last year, they found isopods had overrun the island, burrowing into the tuff, or porous rock created by volcanic ash. The crustaceans tunneling weakened the rock and greatly increased the rate of erosion, researchers determined. Over the last 50 years, the nanatsuba-kotsubumushi, as the Japanese call them, helped reduce the island from its original size of 120 meters long and 22 meters above sea level, to the current size of a single boulder protruding out only 6 meters high.