Monday, June 28, 2010

Biophobia: More compelling than I once thought.

"Nature and I are two," filmaker Woody Allen once said, and apparently the two have not gotten together yet. Allen is known to take extraordinary measures to limit bodily and mental contact with rural flora and fauna. He does not go in natural lakes, for example, because "there are living things in there."

-David W. Orr, Earth in Mind

Last month I and another guide led a group of five teen girls to Welcome Springs in the Southwest corner of Utah, Near Ivins, Arizona, and Nevada. One night I found nine scorpions and the next day one girl almost stepped on a 4-foot rattlesnake.

The weirdest thing we found was definitely the horsehair worm. I was filling up my water bottle from a natural spring and one of the grass stems just didn't look right. I don't think there is any species with a better common name than the horsehair worm. Hearing the name is almost the equivalent of seeing it, although this one could have been called a spaghetti noodle worm. It was tan-colored and about 18 inches long.

Another of our girls (who described it as "beautiful") tried to cut it in half with the sharp edge of a rock, but couldn't even damage it.

I could kick myself for forgetting my pocket camcorder. So in case you're into nightmares, vomiting, etc. Here is a video of cricket, which is normally averse to water, following its own horsehair worm's advice to drown itself.

Its a shame (especially for Woody) that this is happening in someone's swimming pool; I guess after 100 million years of existence, they've gotten pretty good at wriggling into crickets, swimming pools, carpeted living rooms, or anywhere else they feel like going.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

April is the Coolest Month

This year you might have noticed Swirly Patterns' glaring omission of a post about how terrible Spring is. Sorry if you've come to rely on it, but things have been going quite well for me lately.