Did You Hear That???

I’d never heard of this bird until yesterday. The potoo–that’s what they call it in South America. It usually isn’t seen, but often heard. Listen!

 

Our Own Assassin Fly

The Robber Fly | Natural World | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

So I went outside to write in the heat, wanted to finish a chapter of The Witch Box, and when I’d had enough, I came back in to lie on the floor and cool off. I was just getting settled when Patty reported, with alarm, “What’s that on your back? Oh, it’s some awful kind of great big spider!”

“Well, are you going to just stand there looking at it? Get it off me!” I may be Mr. Nature, but I’d just as soon not have some great big spider crawl under my shirt.

“How? How do I get it off you?”

“I don’t know! Do something!”

She started to pull up my shirt. I wasn’t having that! “Oh! It’s got a long body like a grasshopper!” She was still messing about with my shirt when the big nasty spider suddenly “flew away.”

“What? A spider that can fly? Where did it go?”

“I don’t know! It just flew off!”

By and by I found the creature resting on a windowpane. Now that I could see it, I realized it was an assassin fly. I drew Patty’s attention to it. “Is this what you saw?”

“Yes, that’s it.”

“There’s no problem, then. It’s an assassin fly. It’s a predator. It has no interest in human beings.”

“Does it eat bugs? Will it eat flies?”

“Flies, and anything else it can catch.”

“Well, then, it can stay here and be welcome,” Patty said.

So it’s still there on the windowpane, waiting for a tasty fly to come along.

 

Mr. Nature: Earwig Wars!

A certain businessman once said, “I didn’t get where I am today by messing about with earwigs!” But he was missing something.

Jambo, Mr. Nature here–with earwigs. The ones in the video are bigger than the ones we find in our gardens, but otherwise the same.

I’ve always wondered about those “pincers” on the south end of a northbound earwig. All the other bugs have their pincers up front, like politicians. So having them where a tail ought to be seems an odd procedure. But it works for them.

These “cerci,” as scientists call them, function just like real pincers. They might as well be real pincers: male earwigs fight with them. I never knew that–did you? So, yes, an earwig could pinch you if you picked it up in your hand; but the damage would be so minimal as to be hardly worth mentioning.

Don’t panic if you find some in your garden. They mind their own business and will not harm your fruits or flowers. They won’t harm you, either.

God’s stuff is just so cool.

‘Beware the Komodo Dragon’ (2017)

Dinner is coming–and it could be you.

Fortunately for everybody’s peace of mind, Komodo dragons are rare and tend not to live in populated areas. Which is good, because this–the world’s largest living lizard–is one of the few land animals with the inclination and the ability to eat people.

Beware the Komodo Dragon!

No kidding–you really can get eaten. By a lizard!

This creature grows up to 10 feet long and 300 pounds. It’s an expert ambush predator. That means you don’t even know it’s there until it takes a bite out of you. And the bite is poisonous.

They’re very easy to avoid, though. Just don’t visit any of the islands where they live.

‘Mr. Nature: Do Starfish Think?’ (2017)

See the source image

It doesn’t look like much is happening; but the starfish has attacked a scallop and intends to eat it.

The fascinating aspect of this question is the fact that a starfish has no brain. And yet they do all the things they need to do, to stay alive. So how do they do them without a brain?

Mr. Nature: Do Starfish Think?

Can starfish learn? Can they remember? If so, where do they store the information?

I’ve been trying for years to find answers to those questions, but no dice. Apparently no one knows the answers.

God’s stuff always works. We just can’t figure out how.

Mr. Nature: The White Moose

Jambo! Mr. Nature here; and today’s safari takes us to Sweden, where someone was lucky enough to see a white moose when he happened to have a camera with him to film it.

Albinism occurs in all sorts of different animals, but in the wild it tends to make these white animals more vulnerable to predators. But a full-grown moose wouldn’t have to worry much about that.

And you might want to read my book, The Palace (Bell Mountain No. 6), in which the boy king, Ryons, pursues the White Doe in Lintum Forest…

A Frog with… Antifreeze

Jambo! Mr. Nature here; and today our safari takes us to Alaska… in search of frogs!

What? Frogs in Alaska? Isn’t it too cold for them?

Not for the wood frog, it isn’t. These handsome brown frogs, with their black masks like raccoons, are able to live in these chilly climes because their bodies produce a kind of natural antifreeze. They go into suspended animation and wake up again in the spring.

God’s stuff–wow!

Baby Lizards Hatching

I picked this video because I wanted to see what kind of lizards would hatch from these eggs that somebody says he “found” by his home. They appear to be baby geckos of some kind.

Here at Chez Leester, one of my fence lizards once astounded us by laying a whole batch of perfect little eggs. I phoned the reptile house at the Staten Island Zoo to find out how to care for the eggs (put them in sphagnum moss and keep them out of direct sunlight)–and what do you know? Every one of those eggs hatched, and I had a whole terrarium full of tiny little fence swifts.

When lizards hatch, they’re fully equipped to make their way in the world. It’s really something to see!

Don’t Harm This Bug!

House pseudoscorpion (Chelifer cancroides) in our kitchen | Insect species,  Wood trim, Insects

In real life, the bug in the picture above is very, very small. It’s the house pseudo-scorpion (Chelifer cancroides)–not an insect, but an arachnid–and is highly beneficial to us humans.

Jambo! Mr. Nature here, with a critter that’s mostly too small to be noticed, although it can be found in very many homes. And if you’ve got them in your home, you’ve got a good thing.

Pseudo-scorpions don’t harm us or our stuff, and here’s what they eat: carpet beetle larvae, clothes moth larvae, book lice… and bedbugs! (The USS Connecticut, desperately trying to fight off a bedbug infestation, could use twenty or thirty thousand of these little guys.) There’s a good chance you have them in your home but have never noticed them.

If you think you have a pseudo-scorpion, you probably need to look at it under a magnifying glass to be sure. If you can then see it’s not a pseudo-scorpion, it’s almost certainly something bad that you ought to get rid of. But if it does turn out to be a pseudo-scorpion, release it and let it go about its business.

I wonder how many bedbug or clothes moth infestations never got off the ground because of pseudo-scorpions.

The Song of the Walrus

Jambo, everybody! Mr. Nature here; and today our safari takes us to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium to visit their singing walrus, “E.T.”

Somehow it has never occurred to me before that walruses might have voices. Now I know better.

I wonder what it would be like, to be aboard a little ship in Arctic waters, late at night, with the whole scene shrouded in fog so you can barely see your hand in front of your face–and then, from out of the foggy darkness, you hear… this.

If you didn’t know it was a walrus, what would you think?