The closest stop sign is over a mile away and the first traffic light is 5+ miles down the road. A visit to the grocery store is almost 30 miles round trip. It's quiet here; just the sound of toads and coyotes at night. It seems very still, but when you look close there's always something happening. Read on about a few things we've noticed over the past few years.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Babies in the dirt - my dirty little secret

When I was a kid anytime I saw a Potato Bug I might have let out a scream or at the very least my skin would crawl.  Lots of people find these bugs pretty disgusting.  As I've come a cross a few over the past year I've been doing a closer examination and I've independently decided they look human.  After coming to this conclusion I went to work one day and mentioned this to my friend and she rattled off something in Spanish in response to my remark (niña de la tierra).  When I asked for a translation she said "Babies in the dirt".  She is of Mexican heritage and she said that's what her culture calls the potato bug.  I'm amused to find I'm not the only one who thinks these bugs look human.
The potato bug is also known as the Jerusalem cricket, although they are not from Jerusalem.  And they don't eat potatoes.  Active usually at night, the insects use their mandibles to feed primarily on dead organic material but also eat other insects.  Their highly adapted feet are used for burrowing beneath moist soil.  I've discovered they usually appear after a rain, they crawl out of the grass onto the patio to dry out.  Let me admit to my sickness now - the first time I saw one up here in the hills, my first thought was "would my chickens eat this?".  I scooped up my baby from the dirt, carried him over to the coop and the chicken fighting began.  They pulled this bug apart leg by leg by arm and devoured him in 5 seconds.  This seems to be their favorite treat so far.  Often one chicken will grab the baby and take off running FAST to escape from the other chickens.  I know, I'm a sicko.  Each time it rains I circle the house looking for babies in the dirt.

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