Today is International Rock Flipping Day!

The weather and scenery couldn’t have been nicer to spend one of my favorite days of the year.

I’m sure if the local millipedes could communicate in our language, they may dub the day as, “day when that annoying guy disrupts our sleep and takes pictures of us.” Truly, millipedes have been the star of my Rock Flipping Day adventures for the past couple years (2011 and 2010). My discovery of them in abundance on the Northern Virginia, US, trails years ago during this event spawned my fascination of the creatures, housing them in a terrarium for some time. Here are a few more I found this year.

Note the little guy on the right.

The day actually takes two main directions for me. First, on my favorite hiking trail nearby, I modify the event to “log rolling day,” since, oddly, there are hardly any rocks to be found on the trail. The under tree critters are just as exciting, however.

There are always plenty of spiders.

And slugs.

And gooey egg-like things that I’m hoping somebody can help me identify.

From here, I leave my familiar trail in search of real rocks to flip, keeping to the spirit of the day.

I was surprised by this little guy. It was unfamiliar to me on my previous trail visits and I’m not sure why type of earwig it is.

Most of the walk was to the soundtrack of the wonderful local crickets. Most rarely stick around long enough for me to get a shot of them, but this one appeased his fans after the concert.

I thought this spider was pretty nifty.

When I was a kid, my second favorite arthropods (after grasshoppers) were pill bugs. I would find them under the stones surrounding our garden and enjoyed watching them curl up to avoid the juvenile who was poking at them. Instead of pill bugs, I seem to fund sow bugs mostly in the DC area. But that’s okay; they are still pretty fun to watch, even if they don’t crawl up into a ball for me.

I felt a bit bad about disrupting this collection of ants. They furiously ran off with their eggs, carrying them to safety. I caught a few shots during the exodus, but this is only a tiny fraction of the insects I disturbed with one seemingly harmless rock flip.

I think I have a toad bug here. I first discovered these a couple years ago on Rock Flipping Day. Then, as now, I marveled at their ability to blend into the environment and go almost unseen. This one lost confidence at his camouflage abilities and made a run for it; had he not done that, there is at least a 50% chance I would have looked right past him.

Blurry termites.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon one of these guys; I believe it is a type of snail (I’m sure I’ll be corrected today if I’m wrong). I was happy to find another today (in the exact same place as a few weeks ago, interestingly). It stayed perfectly still on the rock where I found it, and then within a few minutes, began to slowly crawl away.

Closer to the water. Look closely to see the tiny blue guy beside it.

In the water.

And off to safety (or, at least away from me).


One Response to Rock Flipping Day 2012

  1. Sara says:

    I think your spider with the impressive jaws is a woodlouse hunter, the “earwig” is a two-pronged bristletail (much cooler in my opinion) and your little blue guy by the snail some kind of springtail.

    No clue on the fuzzy, gooey stuff. I’d guess fungus.