Friday, August 11, 2006

Stalking the Earth

I bought a birthday card once with a dinosaur on the cover. Inside, instead of "Happy Birthday," it read, "Congratulations on another year of stalking the Earth."

In birthday terms, I've probably been stalking for more years than I have years remaining to stalk. But it's amazing what can still surprise.

I saw a velvet ant this week. I don't think they're particularly rare, but this makes only the third time I've encountered one.



She was in a hurry and wouldn't pose at all. When I looked up the latin name, Dasymutilla occidentalis, I read that they make an odd sqeaking/squealing noise when captured. So now I'll have to try that next time I see one. They're also called cow-killers because of an extremely painful sting, though I haven't found anyone who has first-hand knowledge of it.

During the weekly cat walk, George investigated a humongous fungus. A champion champignon!



I don't remember ever seeing a mushroom this large. Some wild critter had left small scratches on the surface - it must have been curious too.

Hubby found a spider hiding between some rocks in the creek.



Turns out there are fishing spiders! Dolomedes tenebrosus or scriptus. I think this is the latter. The leg span can reach 3 inches (7.6 cm). I like spiders reasonably well, but I think I'd have to put this one out if he came in the house... I've seen enough spy movies to know that a spider that big and hairy would definitely want to crawl all over my face in the middle of the night.

What new thing did you discover this week?

17 comments:

happy and blue 2 said...

I discovered that I can go 2 days without showering if I stay in the house..

James Cooper said...

Neat ant -- think I'll avoid getting too close if I ever spot one though :-D

This week I discovered that some spiders have strong enough webbing that a single strand can pull the sunglasses off my face as I walk through it.

MrsBurns said...

Velvet Ant.....I've seen three this year and don't remember ever having seen one before. They are very resilient little troopers. Having little ones in the garden who tend to get stung makes me much more wary of (and aggressive toward) the odd insect than you! I admire your curiosity.

Dave said...

Very cool fishing spider! That's new to me, too. Big boletes we have, but i have yet to get a picture half as charming as yours with the cat.

What new discovery did I make this week? That the spined micrathenas eat their webs every night, leaving nothing but the three frame threads, and weave them anew each day at dawn. I also discovered some great books of poetry today at the used bookstore (online book-buying is great, but it will never replace live browsing, for me, and the joy of a totally serendipitous find).

Rhodent said...

I am always delightrd by your "finds"

Belle said...

Hi Rurality,

Interesting ant, we don't have those here up north. The variety of insects is amazing!

I think that is the same fungus we had last week....those spores must have traveled in a hurry, and far!! ^_ ^

Floridacracker said...

I discovered that Rurality has never scooped up a velvet ant in a glass jar and listened to it swear and cuss a blue streak.

I hope she's careful when SHE discovers it.


...not your birthday is it?

Rachel said...

I have learned from your post what a velvet ant is. I have seen a few of those things here and they are good size! I had no clue what they were and now I know. Thanks!!

That spider is very scary!

skankycat said...

I've discovered that when I find cleaning supplies tucked away in a closet, they're hidden for a reason. Yesterday I found a can of Pledge SprayOn Wood Floor cleaner and ended up on my hands and knees buffing the livingroom.
My neck and shoulders are singing a very sad ol' tune today.

It's been an invasive ant year, hasn't it? Perhaps caused by ll the dry weather?

airplanejayne said...

I had never seen nor heard of a velvet ant before! Awesome...and thanks!

What else did I learn this week? That it is very difficult, and probably not advisable to take back-to-back vacations.....

gtr said...

Great sightings!! I used to coexist with fishing spiders in my parent's riverside house as a teen. I asked them to NOT squish them if they found them, but to put them in a big mayo jar for me to release later. They did so with one carrying an egg sack. Imagine my surprise when I came back to 1000 little fishing spiders in the jar! It was fascinating!

chiefbiscuit said...

What new thing? That I can win a thousand dolars!

robin andrea said...

Great stalking, Karen. Very cool finds. Love that Red Velvet Ant and the fishing spider.

We noticed some paw prints at the beach this week. They were all around some fallen trees at the base of a bluff. A place where we've seen raccoons prowling the beach. These prints looked very much like bobcat prints. That was our discovery for the week.

Rurality said...

No, not my birthday... next month!

Thanks everybody for sharing your finds.

Ericka said...

neat ant! i'm afraid that had i spotted it, i would have had a hard time not patting its fuzzyness, and would probably be able to comment on its stinging abilities.

i discovered that with the proper velocity and determination, a small furry animal weighing less than 2 pounds can displace an unhung wall mirror weighing approx 55 pounds. (it's okay - i'm quick and i caught it before it hit the ground.)

lisa said...

BEAUTIFUL spider! (I'm probably one of the few people you will hear say that)I am babysitting my son's tarantulas for the summer, and I find them to be lovely...as long as I don't have to touch them!

Jack Burns said...

The Velvet Ant is actually a female, wingless, wasp. I was stung once when putting on a shoe, and it felt like I had been jabbed with a flaming hot sword in my big toe. I will NEVER forget it. Perhaps the worst pain I've ever experienced.ww