Neighborhood Nature

Our Family's Nature Blog

Looking for Worms, Finding Millipedes … and More February 11, 2009

The last few days have been sunny and warm. Yesterday’s temperature reached 60, and almost all the snow is gone. Then, today came rain, and it’s getting colder as I write. Is this a spring rain, or something else?

I decided to ask the worms for their opinion. The best place to find worms after a spring rain is at the edges of our street, so I went out front to check dead leaves in the gutter:

Dead leaves in the gutter -- are there any worms?

Dead leaves in the gutter -- were there any worms?

No luck there — not a worm in sight. So, I went to our front garden to turn over some flat rocks:

In spring, worms and bugs live under these rocks. Did we find any today?

In spring, worms and bugs live under these rocks. Did we find any today?

No luck with worms, but I did find these:

Long, slender, shiny, but with lots of tiny legs. They're millipedes!

Long, slender, shiny, but with lots of tiny legs. They're millipedes!

Mixed in with dirt and roots were small bug-like animals — long, slender, and shiny like worms, but each had at least a hundred tiny legs. They were millipedes, common animals in our soil. They coiled up, then uncoiled and slowly crawled for cover.

I also found this:

This hole was smaller in diameter than a dime.

A hole under the rock -- where does it lead?

A hole, entrance to a tunnel heading deep into the soil, smaller than a dime in diameter. Could this hole lead to where the worms are hiding? In a few weeks I’ll come back to check it out.

So, this weather was spring enough for millipedes, but not warm enough for worms.It was just another winter rain.

I went back to my computer to upload these photos, and guess what I saw out the back window?

Is this possum hunting for spilled seeds, or for bugs?

Is this possum hunting for spilled seeds, or for bugs?

A possum under the backyard thistle feeder, also on a hunt! But was it just looking for spilled seeds, or for the bugs that devour thistle waste in warmer weather? Either way, check that possum’s hands:

The possum froze as I approached, so I got a close up photo.

The possum froze as I approached, so I got a close up photo.

I’ll bet those tiny fingers are much better than mine for catching bugs and worms!

——————–

Nature Note added 2/18/09:

We just discovered that there is an International Rock-Flipping Day! I can’t believe we missed it last year. The 2009 Rock-Flipping Day will be on September 6 (see the comment, below). Don’t worry, you’re invited to the celebration! Our version will start in our front garden, and who knows where we’ll go from there.

 

2 Responses to “Looking for Worms, Finding Millipedes … and More”

  1. Dave Bonta Says:

    Yep, that’s right – it’ll be on the 6th this year. Great possum shot!

  2. Nigel Says:

    What a funny looking possum! They look so different to the possums here in Australia. I really enjoy your site and have favourited it. I’ll come back soon when I can concentrate and read some more.

    Nigel
    http://www.familynatureexplorers.typepad.com/


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