Yesterday was International Rock Flipping Day. I’ve read about it in the past, but this is the first year I’m participating.
I don’t really need an excuse to flip a rock and explore what’s beneath, but the whole event certainly motivated me to get my blog posts going again. I have been busy outside of blogging, so there’s plenty of good stuff coming up, so don’t give up on me.
Yesterday was beautiful here in my area, so I already had plans to go bug hunting. Knowing I’d be looking for a rock to flip, I chose a nearby park where I knew there were lots of good candidates. Here’s the rock I settled on after being distracted by lots of other interesting critters along the way.
I carefully turned over the rock, hoping for something blogworthy. On the ground beneath, a centipede uncoiled, drawing my initial interest. Scanning the scene, I also saw a millipede and a few ants. Then, movement on the underside of the rock itself drew my attention. A harvestman in the family Cosmetidae betrayed its presence.
I’ve seen this type of harvestman before, and a photo of that one submitted to BugGuide has since been identified as belonging to the genus Vonones.
Here are some of my favorite shots of this harvestman, the only thing from that rock that I chose to photograph for the 2012 International Rock Flipping Day.
Here’s another crazy looking harvestman for my collection. This was a small one, found under a log. I didn’t want to risk it getting away, so I grabbed it and took those pictures at home on a piece of bark.
Aside from the horns towards the rear of the abdomen, there’s a couple that rise up between the eyes.
There’s also a nice collection of spurs on the hind legs. Here’s a closer look at one of those legs.
Here’s a closer look at the eyes. What I assume is a mite is sitting in front of the eyes, with a scattering of what must be eggs close by. If you look closely, you can find other mites in these photos.
Here’s a few more photos.
I just noticed some harvestman photos online showing how some flouresce under UV light. I didn’t realize that or I would’ve experimented with this one. I already released it in a nearby park, so I’ll have to find another one now!
Could this be the harvestman equivalent of an ostrich burying its head in the sand? Or maybe it was just trying to get at something to eat.
After a few shots as I found it, I prodded it into a better position.
It has some interesting “combs” on a few of its rearmost legs.
It’s actually quite small, the body measuring only about 5mm front to back. The longest leg, however, was about 3cm long. I’m not sure what purpose those horns might serve.
I have to admit I’m drawn to these strange creatures. I think in part it’s simply because they are so alien looking.
This image of a harvestman in the family Gonyleptidae is one of my favorites from my trip to Caraça Natural Park.
As a kid, I cherished my Golden Guide to Spiders and Their Kin. Ever since I saw an illustration therein of a wild looking Gonyleptid, I’ve wanted to find one. I got excited early in the trip when I found a shed skin. On the last night, I was out with my headlamp and I encountered not just one but two!
They were both difficult to photograph. Although slow moving, they just wouldn’t stand still. I had to keep herding them back onto the trail. Eventually, this one stopped in an area that made for a relatively uncluttered background.
Gonyleptids include the largest of the harvestmen and are only found in South and Central America.
Here’s a wider shot showing the whole thing.
Wikipedia entry for Gonyleptidae