Afternoon InquisitionScience

AI: International Rock Flipping Day!

Just wanted to remind everyone that September 9, 2012 is International Rock Flipping Day!  This is the 6th annual IRFD.

Go outside, and spend some time with your inner kid (or an actual kid).  There are beautiful and amazing things in the world, despite the best efforts of humans.  Rediscover them.  Rejoice in the joy of secret complexity hidden under a rock.

If you’re joining in for the first time, here’s a quick rundown of the procedure:

  • On September 9th, find a rock or rocks and flip it/them over.
  • Record what you find. “Any and all forms of documentation are welcome: still photos, video, sketches, prose, or poetry.”
  • Replace the rock as you found it; it’s someone’s home!
  • Post your photos online; it can be on your blog, or load your photos to the Flickr group. (You don’t need a blog to join!)  Send Wandering Weta a link to blog posts. If you’re on Twitter, Tweet it, too; the hashtag is #rockflip.)
  • There is a handy IRFD badge available here.

Important Safety Precautions:  A reminder from Dave:

One thing I forgot to do in the initial post is to caution people about flipping rocks in poisonous snake or scorpion habitat. In that case, I’d suggest wearing gloves and/or using a pry bar — or simply finding somewhere else to do your flipping. Please do not disturb any known rattlesnake shelters if you don’t plan on replacing the rocks exactly as you found them. Timber rattlesnakes, like many other adult herps, are very site-loyal, and can die if their homes are destroyed. Also, don’t play with spiders. If you disturb an adjacent hornet nest (hey, it’s possible), run like hell. But be sure to have someone standing by to get it all on film!

About Respect and Consideration: (from Wandering Weta)

The animals we find under rocks are at home; they rest there, sleep there, raise their families there. Then we come along and take off the roof, so please remember to replace it carefully. Try not to squish the residents; move them aside if they’re big enough; they’ll run back as soon as their rock is back in place.

So: What did you find? What does your inner (or actual) kid think of the idea?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.


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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  1. Bug_Girl,

    I had no idea there even was such a thing as “International Rock Flipping Day.”

  2. Second the point about being careful replacing the rocks.

    A couple of years ago, my 8-year-old niece and I were out flipping rocks, looking for salamanders and such, and we found a (rare in these parts) spotted salamander. (It had about 10 large yellow spots. Most of the local salamanders had 3 red lines on their backs.) A few minutes later, we found a common red-lined salamander under a nearby rock, and my niece decided (for reasons unknown) that we should put this salamander under the rock with the spotted salamander. I lifted that rock up again and we discovered the salamander was squished. She was inconsolable. “I killed it! It was all my fault!” she wailed. I tried to point out to her that I was the one who replaced the rock and wasn’t careful, but to no avail.

    So, especially if you have animal-loving children with you, be very careful when replacing the rock. And don’t look again to see if the creature is still okay; you might still squash it when you replace the rock the second time even if it was fine the first time.

  3. My daughter and I found lots of bugs and little beetles and worms, but then to my daughter’s delight an ant colony. We got to see some good tunnels and big holes leading further into the ground. She started naming the larger tunnels things like kitchen and living room. It was a fun activity to fill an afternoon!

  4. The rocky intertidal is my favorite place to flip rocks. This has been a summer of rock flipping for me. I love marine invertebrates!

  5. I so forgot to check into Skepchick yesterday! Me and the Hellions will flip some rocks this afternoon. My oldest loves roly poly’s, I’m sure she will be into the idea!

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