It's International Rock Flipping Day!
And what better way to investigate the natural world and discover some unusual creatures in it, than to look under a rock--lift the lid on subterranean lives--and anyone else who may be hiding there!
Southwestern Ohio has been dry.
So dry, that long, branching cracks cover most of the yard. Our clay soil bakes under the 90 degree late summer sun, until only the hardiest survive.
Or dig deep. Way below this parched, unfriendly surface.
Between 2 flat rocks around the herb garden, I found the empty cocoon of a woolly bear. A flattened mat of short auburn hairs--he's long gone from where he over-wintered in his felted wool sweater.
The low water level at the pond has exposed the old dam.
Rocks emerge from the muddy rim, barely peeking above the duckweed and watermeal in a soupy, green sludge.
But someone has already looked here, probably in the dark, hoping to find crawdads. This morning, his footprints are all I find.
Stone after stone, I flip--hoping to find something more than an empty web or tunnel.
An ant colony--a BIG one!
Full of very active ants, half an inch long, in a chamber the size of my fist.
Immediately they scurry into the adjoining tunnels, frantically grabbing rice-shaped pupae and disappearing behind the intricate excavation I've exposed.
There's something else living here, too, within this colony of ants.
Rove beetles, their amber bodies and tails held high, fuss about. Ants pick them up and run off, taking them, also, to their place of safety.
Rove beetles are myrmecophiles, organisms that live in association with ants, in this case, within their nest, in a symbiotic relationship. One organism benefits from the other, and neither is harmed.
Yep, there sure is a lot going on out there.
Things we easily see, and those we have to look harder to find.
Great lessons in the natural world lurk just beneath the surface.
Lift the lid.
Flip a rock.
Rock-Flipping Day Reports
Pohanginapete (Pohangina Valley, Aotearoa/New Zealand)
Blaugustine (London, England)
Nature Remains (Ohio, USA)
Pensacola Daily Photo (Florida, USA)
KatDoc's World (Ohio, USA)
Notes from the Cloud Messenger (Ontario, Canada)
Brittle Road (Dallas, Texas)
Sherry Chandler (Kentucky, USA)
osage + orange (Illinois, USA)
Rock Paper Lizard (British Columbia, Canada)
The Crafty H (Virginia, USA)
Chicken Spaghetti (Connecticut, USA)
A Passion for Nature (New York, USA)
The Dog Geek (Virginia, USA)
Blue Ridge blog (North Carolina, USA)
Bug Girl's Blog (Michigan, USA)
chatoyance (Austin, Texas)
Riverside Rambles (Missouri, USA)
Pines Above Snow(Maryland, USA)
Beth's stories (Maine, USA)
A Honey of an Anklet (Virginia, USA)
Wanderin' Weeta (British Columbia, Canada)
Fate, Felicity, or Fluke (Oregon, USA)
The Northwest Nature Nut (Oregon, USA)
Roundrock Journal (Missouri, USA)
The New Dharma Bums (California, USA)
The Marvelous in Nature (Ontario, Canada)
Via Negativa (Pennsylvania, USA)
Mrs. Gray's class, Beatty-Warren Middle School (Pennsylvania, USA)
Cicero Sings (British Columbia, Canada)
Pocahontas County Fair (West Virginia, USA)
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IRFD group on Flickr
IRFD gallery on Via Negativa