Tuesday, April 23, 2013

a narrow fellow in the grass

I've enjoyed seeing the winter and spring birds as the season progresses...the sassy titmouse, the gentle cardinal, the darting bluebird, and of course, the ever-present geese.

But, of course, I have been eagerly waiting for the little creepy-crawlies that only come out with warm weather.  I was weeding the other day when I came across this beauty:

This is Sigmoria aberrans, more commonly known as a type of millipede.  What's the difference between millipedes and centipedes?  Well, centipedes have longer legs, eat other insects, and can give you a nasty bite if bothered.  Millipedes have more legs and eat decaying plants. At least one variety of millipede secretes cyanide as a defense mechanism!  Not this guy, though.  He's known as the "almond millipede" and secretes a chemical that smells exactly like almonds. 

The humble pillbug is more interesting than you'd think, too.  I'm sure you know that they can roll their body into a complete circle to thwart predators.  But did you know that they're crustaceans, and breathe through gills?

Also, pillbugs don't urinate.  They pass the ammonia in gaseous form directly through their exoskeleton.  Pretty interesting! 

I saw this moth on our brick walkway this week.

I know that it's a snout-nosed moth...

...but there are so many different types of moths, it's almost impossible to identify them until you have a detailed guide.  I'll have to keep looking!

Of course, with the warm weather came the appearance of giant fish in our pond.  Todd estimates that some of them are three feet long...and he doesn't exaggerate like I do!  :)

I was raking leaves this weekend when I encountered this little guy.

I'm not generally afraid of snakes, but I like to know where they are, and if they fall into one of the main four venomous snake categories (cottonmouth, coral snake, rattlesnake, and copperhead).  Venomous snakes have triangle-shaped heads and tend to be patterned.  This snake is completely safe.  He's a brown snake (Storeria dekayi), easily identified by the twin brown lines running down his spine.

 See?  He just wants to be on his way.

Here we have evidence of another little creature:

That's right, the resident beaver is slowly cutting down our trees.

We're going to put chicken wire around the bases so that he can no longer get a tooth-hold.

The warm weather has been great for my plants.  The few herbs that I planted grew quickly.

I separated them out into roomier quarters and they're growing like crazy.

I've also found mint, oregano, and rosemary - lots of rosemary - in the garden.  I love stumbling across them!

Most of the azalea flowers have wilted...

...but my clematis are blooming like crazy.  This variety appears to be Nelly Moser.

Irises are popping up in the side yard and making cheerful bouquets.

Different types of sedum are filling in the bare spots in the rock walls and walkways...

Love!  The ferns in the side garden are absolutely magnificent.

We have another type of fern that sends up a dark stalk that almost reminds me of a clenched starfish:

They aren't cinnamon ferns, but I'm not sure what kind they are.

The dogwoods are blooming...

...and the magnolias are just getting ready to pop.

I can't wait to see them in action!

I still hope to have time to post a 'recipe edition' in the next week or so.  Meanwhile, I hope you're enjoying your own spring days.  Have a great week! 


  1. I love the bright color in the little bug. We always called those guys Potato bugs.

    And I love the clematis :D

  2. Potato bugs are a little different...they look like big crickets! But they like the same sorts of living conditions.

    I love the clematis, too! I've never been able to grow them and they're popping up all over here. I think we have 6 or 7 vines growing but just one flowering so far.