Friday, March 30, 2012


Hey ya'll!!!

I've got Cooties!!! And not the imaginary kind that members of the opposite sex are supposed to have when they are of below a certain age, nor the makes your head itch either. Rather, the kind of cooties I've got, are the ones that one would normally find in pieces of rotting logs, or perhaps more literally "under a rock!"

I got up rather early today, out of necessity more than anything else really, but found that it was a particularly refreshing and chilly morning that I did not quite want to go back to sleep. Instead, I head out to my favorite spot of the house, The Garden (second only to my room) and decided to poke about a little bit under the rocks and pots to see what I might find. It must have gone on for hours!!! Armed with nothing more than my field journal, collecting jars and a soft paint brush (I use this to handle small creatures without any of the danger of my clumsy human fingers accidentally closing too hard upon one of them) I must have spent hours digging and poking and nosing about the soil!!! Indeed the air was so calm and cool I barely even noticed the time passing.

As it turned out, the underside of rocks are homes to all manner of creatures that seemingly coexist in such small and confined spaces. One particular rock unearthed a colony of ants. While this discovery greatly interested me, the ants themselves, rather objected to this. I replaced the rock briefly, hoping that I did not cause them undue stress. Over the course of the morning, I found other similarly interesting sights (another rock I picked up revealed a fat and grumpy centipede that reared up and waved its poisonous claws in my direction. I replaced this rock rather hastily!) but the most numerous and endearing of these secretive creatures were perhaps the little wood lice.

Although some species of woodlice superficially resemble pill millipedes, they are in fact an entirely different order of creature altogether and are really crustaceans (like crabs and shrimps) that have adapted to live entirely terrestrial lives! They do not breathe through spiracles like most other invertebrates do but instead have a series of trachea-like lungs situated somewhere in the nether regions of the woodlouse. These "lungs" need to be constantly moistened if they are to continue working which is why woodlice are commonly found only where moisture is abundant or the air, humid. Needless to say, I collected quite few. The lice, I felt, would be wonderful additions for my terrariums where they can recycle organic matter and waste products of the larger insects. Not to mention, they have also come to provide a steady stream of live food for my toadlets. 

The woodlice can curl up into a sphere when frightened, which helps me narrow the species down to Armadillidae. 

Larger species of woodlice are apparently, wonderfully delicious "replacement" for prawns in any seafood dish. 


No comments: