Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bugs in my yard, and probably yours...

I've always had fun comparing similarities and differences between organisms that are lumped together in one category by most people - examples are centipedes and millipedes, frogs and toads, damselflies and dragonflies, and sow bugs and pill bugs. Today, for the first time in several years, I found a sow bug and a pill bug under the same rock. It was in my front yard. I gently replaced the rock and ran into the house for my camera and a paper cup. Amazingly, when I returned, they were both still there. The top photo shows my capture. Guess which one is the pill bug? Both are commonly called rolly pollies, but the sow bugs can't roll into a tight ball. That's the easiest way to tell them apart. Also, when they're both wide open, the sow bug has the more obviously serrated edges. The pill bug resembles a tiny armadillo. The second photo is my last view of two sow bugs before they ran back into hiding. The last photo shows two metallic beetles and a pill bug - and maybe some other bugs I don't see. All of these are contributing to making soil - as opposed to dirt. Dirt is dirty and is not necessarily an organized ecosystem whereas soil is the better term for the substrate for all our trees and meadows, a complex of minerals and organisms whose health is vital to the health of the planet.

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