Happy [ahem] Equinox!

(originally titled “Happy Solstice!” in a stupid moment. I blame the lack of caffeine; that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)

Spring has sprung, at least in my part of the northern hemisphere. To celebrate the vernal equinox yesterday, I was out in the garden. I’ve been doing bits of garden cleanup on days when there have not been showers. Or hasn’t been snowing. Or drizzling. Or sleeting. Or sprinkling. Or frozen solid. Or pouring rain. Or thundersnowing …

No arthropods found yet, aside from some pillbugs, also called sowbugs, woodlice, roly-polys or ballbugs. People call them pillbugs because when bothered, they roll up into little pill-size balls. But they aren’t really bugs, nor even insects. Insects have 3 pairs of legs, and these have 7; with this many legs and flattened dorsal-ventrally (back to front) they are Isopods, a few of which are terrestrial crustaceans. (I think these are probably Cylisticus convexus.)

These weren’t even out and about; I uncovered them when I slipped and skidded on a rock that rolled over in the heavily-saturated ground. As crustaceans go, they are small; the largest is about 1 centimeter long. They look a bit like beans in plate armor, and are generally detritivores or eat the fungi that grow on wood. Once in a while they can get out of hand and bother garden plants.

Lots of school children (myself included) make temporary pets of them because they’re fairly hardy critters. You can hide a few in your pocket during recess, and then play with them at your desk instead of doing boring worksheets.

several small pillbugs (roly-polys) on a piece of limestone

And did I mention it’s been raining? I did find another Minuscule vid I hadn’t seen before, with our hapless friend the little fuzzy black spider. It’s been raining there, too…

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