Oh The Things You’ll Find

Yesterday morning, our internet connection was very much fouled up. All systems were nominal but to say pages were glacial in how they loaded would be almost complimentary. So in the grip of such stagnancy I did the best thing I could and stepped away from the desk to work out my frustrations on a particularly overgrown corner of the backyard.

Suffice it to say the grass-infested section has been severely stripped of its mean green, with me doing the denuding job old-school, grabbing handfuls of the weeds and pulling until there was pretty much nothing left to pull. I don’t have a before shot, but here’s the after, with the rockfall looking pretty much like it hasn’t since shortly after I created it in 2005 beneath our strange section of stacked back wall:

In the aftermath of my endeavor, I founds me some kritterz, and got out my cam to document them.

This first one is a terrifically small bluish snail of unknown species:

In the course of my excavations over the years I can count on coming across semi-fossilized shells of this type, but never before have I actually found one occupied and on the move.

Next up is this family of fungusesses, previously hidden almost completely behind a thick patch of grass:

The relatively wide gaps between significant rains this season has limited their appearance — coupled with the fact that they are very, very short-lived. Literally here today, gone tomorrow.

Next up is a relatively common find, a mystery chrysalis I’ve encountered often over the years. Unlike those creatures who’ll metamorph between their terrestrial and airborne stages whilst suspended from branches and such, these prefer just laying about on the bare ground.

And they react to being touched:

Finally, I saved the best — or let’s say beast — for last. I’ll spare those of you with potato bug issues by putting the image after the after jump. If it’s any consolation, time wasn’t too long ago when the only thing I could do when encountering these gigantic glistening beady-eyed bastards was run as fast away from them as I could while screaming like a little girl. I’m talking serious phobia. But then something happened back in 2004 on Santa Cruz Island, when not only could I manage to be in their presence without trembling in fear, but I also held one (albeit in thickly begloved hands).

Since then, I’ve come to appreciate how awesome they are. Still entirely creepy and unreal. But awesome.

One of the most curious things is that despite all my diggings in the yards over the years, I had never ever unearthed a potato bug on our property, and still haven’t. Today’s specimen is no exception to that trend. It was Susan who found it upside down on the sidewalk in front of our garage when she got home from work. And after alerting me to its presence I wasted no time going down and marveling at it for a while, noting that while not obviously injured, it’s mobility was strictly limited. So I relocated all 2.5″ inches of it to the backyard, where it could recover or expire in more natural surroundings (rather than get shmushed under someone’s shoe). This morning it indeed had done the latter.

See for yourself if you dare.


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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with laonstage.com, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."