May 11th, 2008

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

80 acres: two bugs

We have several kinds of black ground beetles, which are usually moving rapidly and thus defying the's amazing how fast they can move on those short little legs.  But this large one was just sitting there on the sidewalk from the carport the other night. I like the elegant shape of it--it's a male (the large "jaws") and the thin blue line at the base of the wing-case (the elytra.)  The blue doesn't really show here (on my laptop monitor) but it was there.  I think this beetle is in the genus Pasimachus.  They're insect predators, going after (among other things) caterpillars.


The one on the right is a type of June beetle, but much larger than most of ours, and a plainer brown (not so red-brown), but with spots.  It's about an inch long, and was on the kitchen storm door this morning.  I think it's in the genus Phyllophaga.  (Quick correction--the word back from the entomologist list is that it's a Grapevine Beetle, Pelidnota punctata.)

Beetles, according to my insect books, are the most diverse organisms on the planet--one in five of all living things (plants included) is a beetle.  There are over 24,000 species of beetles in North America north of Mexico.
woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Writer's Block: Scaredy cat

What animal frightens you most, and why?
Homo sapiens.   No other animal is likely to set out with deliberate intent and considerable cunning to hurt or kill me.   

Some nonhuman animals are dangerous...some are annoying or look scary...but humans are the ones with the real power and unpredictable malice.   Very few animal predators look  on humans as possible prey (a few do--I don't swim with sharks, or stroll up to polar bears to pet their fur), but human predators readily regard humans as prey.  And they're smart, sneaky, and often have deadly weapons, not to mention opposable thumbs.

If you insist on the choice of  another species...dogs.   Dogs kill and injure people more often than venomous snakes, in this country.   Dogs owned by irresponsible, criminal, or vicious people--loose dogs, especially in packs--are a constant danger.   Mind you, I like dogs...if they are properly trained and under control.  The problem with dogs is, once again, homo sapiens...humans.
woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

80 acres: Turtle Rescue

Richard was dealing with the afternoon manure pickup when he spotted something odd in the fence between the south and north horse lots. 

A turtle had wedged itself into the mesh of one of the welded panels, and the serrations on the edge of the shell meant it  couldn't back out, even if it had been able to get all its feet on the ground for purchase.

Richard checked, and it was alive (we don't know how long it had been there--it was in a spot where it might not have been noticed) but he was able to get it out by turning it diagonally to the square of the wire.   When put on the ground, it took off at a high rate of speed (for a turtle) in a direction that meant it would have to fight through another set of fence panels.  Clearly it was alive and unhurt.  So he picked it up again and we took it over to our water garden/lily pond.  Because of rain the other night, it's overflowed a little, so there's extremely shallow water (maybe an inch or less deep) outside the actual pond, to where we turned the liner up.  We set it there--no danger that if it was exhausted, it might not be able to swim, but in the shade, with water available if it was dehydrated from being stuck in the fence for a day or so. 

The turtle pretended to be a rock for quite awhile, then began poking its head out cautiously, drawing it in every time we came past (we were doing yard work and horse work).   Then, before dark but after everyone had left the yard for ten minutes or so, it went into the pond.  I came back to check and it was gone--with no wet marks on the liner from its having climbed over the rim.  And a suspiciously turtle-shaped "something" lurking under a little clump of algae and a water lily pad.

It's a Texas river cooter, an adult, and they eat aquatic plants.  The lily pond right now had more aquatic plants than it needs (in fact, the water iris are now filling almost half of it), so a grazer won't be a problem for awhile. 

And it's not stuck in a fence.

There are no pictures of the rescue because we didn't delay the rescue for me to run back to the house for the camera.   I did get some pictures of it being a rock, and a little of its head, but nothing that exciting.