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Poetry and snark blogger who also has a creative side (who knew?)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mother Nature Can Be a Bitch!

Okay, I know I probably asked for it. You know the saying "Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it?" Well, I have always wished for a home surrounded by wildlife. Yes, I am teasingly called "Nature Girl" because I volunteer at our local nature center, love animals, and think snakes are cool. However, even Nature Girl has her limits.

This summer in Southern MD has brought more and varied flora and fauna to my doorstep (and, at times, over the threshold!) than I could ever imagine! I love the abundance of swallowtail butterflies that are all over my yard. My dog is enjoying trying to catch the skinks that seem to be popping out everywhere. I didn't even mind the cicadas that recently swarmed us for their 17 year orgy. But, recent sightings have made even me a tad squeamish about the natural "wonders" in our part of the world.

Centipedes have invaded Southern MD this summer. I find them clinging to the backyard screen door and creepily crawling around my basement. I even found a few in bathtubs! Besides having multitudes of long, skinny legs, they move incredibly fast, which makes them hard to catch. Remember those rubber bugs that you could buy out of gumball machines as a kid? Yeah, they look like that!

Not pretty centipede
Our basement also seems to be home to hundreds of camel crickets. I have nothing against crickets, but these guys aren't the Jiminy Cricket shiny, black musical kind. Oh no. These are Quasimodo's cousins! They are brownish, hunchbacked, and tend to drop a leg whenever I try to catch them. Who does that?!! And why are their antennae so long? Are they trying to broadcast radio signals from Kazakhstan?

not cute cricket that we have

cute  cricket












this guy is on the small side!
While I'm on the subject of our basement, can we talk about wolf spiders? These things are freaks of nature! I'm not arachnophobic. I find spider webs beautiful and fascinating. I even took photos of the black widow spider I found in our rafters (then got rid of it!) Wolf spiders, however, are a blight on spiderhood. These monstrosities don't even have the courtesy to make webs. They just lurk about in dark places waiting to scare the crap out of you. If you've never had the pleasure of meeting a wolf spider, think dark, furry, and BIG! Too big to squish. With legs included, wolf spiders can easily grow to be the size of your hand. I've seen one who's body alone was as big as my palm! That's the size of pet, not a bug! I've had to trap more than my fair share of wolf spiders this summer, and I don't even want to think about how many are still hiding in the dark corners of my basement. Shiver. 

slime mold, a lovely addition to any garden!
Lest you think that it's only insects (I know, spiders are not insects. Let it go.) that have infested my house and made this summer less than enjoyable, I have some flora to show you that will make you want a concrete yard! First, let me introduce you to slime mold. This beast likes to make its home in our mulch. It begins its wretched life as a bright yellow blob, then transforms itself to look like dog vomit. It makes a lovely complement to your summer flowers! It also spreads, so you can be assured that when you find slime mold in your garden, more is on the way! Yay!

in its dog vomit stage
Here's one for you fans of nature porn! In addition to being disgustingly phallic in its presentation, the stinkhorn mushroom also emits a nauseating smell! What fun! I think stinkhorn mushrooms were Mother Nature's idea of a practical joke. I'm not laughing.

no comment
While I'm on the subject of undesirable phallic objects, I'll tell you about the snakes I've encountered this summer. Now, I like snakes. I think they're cool looking and I've held some at the Nature Center. I generally don't mind finding a snake in my yard because chances are, it's not venomous. There is only one venomous snake in our area, the copperhead. Guess what snake decided to visit my backyard several days ago? If you guessed copperhead, go to the head of the class!

not a dog toy!
Of course, the copperhead was in the yard at the same time as my dogs, a miniature poodle and a Maltese. They are both oblivious to the fact that copperhead snakes are not dog toys and thus, should not be approached, sniffed, and put into a dog mouth. When I entered the scene, the copperhead was bobbing its head and lashing out to bite my poodle, who just kept jumping in the air and then trying to catch it again! Luckily, all involved escaped unharmed, including the copperhead, who, I'm hoping will find somewhere else to catch the sun.

Probably the most common snake I find here is the black rat snake. As I mentioned previously, they are not venomous (though they will bite) and are helpful in eradicating small rodents. I typically like finding them. Typically. This summer has not been typical. I found a pair of black rat snakes mating on my grill! I'm all for snake love, but we cook our food on that grill! Yuck.

found one of these chillin' in my basement
I've also found snakes lounging on the blinds on my basement door (inside) and having a rest in the middle of my basement carpet! This is too close to nature for my comfort!

So, it's been an eventful summer here is Southern MD! Spiders, and slime mold, and snakes, oh my! Nature Girl is looking forward to her trip to New York City next month! At least there, the slime and snakes will be human!