Science

International Rock Flipping Day

Don’t forget that Sept. 7th is International Rock Flipping Day!  From Dave Bonta:

“You don’t have to be a blogger to participate. We encourage everyone with a Flickr account to join the International Rock-Flipping Day Group and post photos or sketches to the photo pool. Those who would prefer not to join Flickr can send images to Bev (bev AT magickcanoe DOT com) for posting in a gallery on her site….

Any and all forms of documentation are welcome: still photos, video, sketches, prose, or poetry. We encourage those of a scientific bent to try and identify everything they find, but we’re also open to purely lyrical or impressionistic responses. Our coveted, if wholly imaginary, Grand Prizes this year will go to: 1) whoever identifies the most species under a single rock; and 2) anyone who appears to have a genuine epiphany as a result of flipping rocks.”

Some important additional info from last year’s instructions:

“The point is simply to have fun, and hopefully learn something at the same time. ….But whatever you do, please be sure to replace all rocks that you flip as soon as possible, so as not to disrupt the natives’ lives unduly.”

Minions, go Forth and Flip!

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bug_girl

Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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23 Comments

  1. Okay, I think I understand what this is about. But to make sure I’m going to say what I think it is about. If I’m wrong please tell me what the right answer is.

    Our we supposed to flip rocks over and take pictures of what is living under the rocks? I’m guessing various bugs and other gross nasty critters will be under there waiting to infect me with some strange disease.

  2. i spent more time flipping rocks as a child than just about anything else. and i always put them back. so much fun for a geeky science child, just walking around the woods, looking for neat stuff…i miss those days. think i’ll go for a walk in the woods today.

  3. Some of them are, but they’re mostly the kind you encounter walking around more than the ones you come across flipping rocks. Mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, that sort of thing. Under rocks, at least around here, you’re far more likely to find centipedes, scorpions, and small rattlesnakes than your disease-carriers.

    That’s not saying they aren’t there, of course, just that the relative risk seems to be weighted towards venom over disease.

  4. The vast majority of insects (and other arthropods) are completely harmless. It’s just a very few that actually can carry a disease, and even fewer that can actually infect you with something.

    Fleas, for example, *can* carry plague, but they have to feed on a host that has plague to transmit it. And unless there is already bubonic plague in your neighborhood, that’s pretty unlikely :)

    I can’t think of anything that lives under a rock that could possibly harm you. Even the venomous arthropods won’t kill you unless you are highly allergic.

    Let go of your Fear! Enjoy the world around you!

  5. Oh, and that wasp looks like it might be an Ichneumon wasp.

    If I’m interpreting that photo correctly, the long “string” coming out of her abdomen and entering the trunk of the tree is her ovipositor.
    (I had to sort of hold the photo sideways to sort out the bits). This group of wasps lay eggs on other insects or arthropods. The larvae then eat the host from inside rather like Aliens. (the movie, that is.)

    http://bugguide.net/node/view/150

  6. I shall go forth and flip a rock for Science in West Virginia! Assuming that TS Hanna has not washed everything down into Virginia.

    It may well be the only scientific thing that happens in this state in September.

    GabrielBrawley: If it’s small enough to be under a rock that you can flip over, it’s small enough to fit under the sole of your boot…if you catch my drift. Not that I expect you to find anything that dangerous under a small rock…

    Note for bug_girl: One of my Shelties has achieved a minor veterinary note. He has survived being bitten TWICE by what was diagnosed as brown recluse spiders, once in MO and once here in WV. This in spite of the expert opinions of the WV DNRs scientists that there are no such spiders in this state. Maybe we imported them when we moved here. Stranger things have happened with invasive species. The snakehead is well established in the Potomac and adjacent waters, for example…

  7. Okay,
    I will face my fear and flip some rocks over tomorrow and take pictures. It is your fault if all the nasty little critters are swiming in my terror urine. Two times this year I have been weeding my garden and come up with a handful of weeds and a snake. My daughter loves nother better than watching me scream and dance like a girl. She laughs and laughs.

  8. Hi bug_girl, I was going to asnwer you offline, but couldn’t find a way to do so.

    Actually, we knew that they are significantly misdiagnosed. All of the other possibilities were eliminated by vets and an arachnid envenomation (Now, those are words you don’t see in posts every day!) specialist I contacted online. Both times the dog’s blood work was negative for any signs of infection and neither wound had any visible sign of infection.

    The first bite (Springfield, MO) was discovered as a tennis ball-sized purple lump that had a small “pinhole” in the very center. He never noticed the wound and showed no sign of pain. When aspirated, the blood was in a state the vet said appeared “digested-looking.” His gums had also turned very blotchy, which was a sign that some of the venom had entered his bloodstream and was causing internal hemmoraging. He was given massive amounts of antihistamines (to stop the venom) and antibiotics (to prevent the wound from becoming infected in the future). He was eventually (months) left with a 1/2 inch wide scar, the small size of which was attributed to the speed that we were able to treat him.

    The second wound (Charles Town, WV) was discovered as a golf ball-sized crater in his flank, right down to the muscle, with no bleeding. Again, no sign of infection externally or in the blood work. This time, there was no sign that venom had entered his bloodstream. The vet we brought him to was very skeptical that it was a bite, but soon came out of the exam room and confirmed my suspicion. Again, he showed no sign of pain or discomfort from the wound. His scar was about the same size.

    (I do have pictures of the wounds, BTW, if you’d like to see them. They are NOT for the faint-hearted.) After I had e-mailed back and forth with the envenomation expert, he wondered if we had inadvertantly brought a few unwelcome hitchhikers from MO to WV in our move here. This thought did not amuse me in the slightest and has made the makers of No-Pest Strips quite a bit of money. I have them all over our basement, crawl spaces, etc.

    If it ISN’T what was diagnosed, I very much want to know what it was so that we can prevent it from ever happening to any of our dogs (or to us) again.

  9. The two all round ‘science is cool’ spogs and I went and overturned some rocks (as well as very carefully replacing them as to not destroy habitats).

    Disappointingly, we only found two weeny slaters. I so wish we lived in the country…

    Happy rock flipping dudes

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