Kermit’s Cousin on the Myakka Prairies

For the last couple of weeks I have been exploring the Park outside of the Park.  This is mainly prairie land located east of the main entrance to Myakka River State Park.  Since I normally drive in from the West side of the Park these areas had never really registered in my consciousness.  Another deterrent was a seemingly endless road repair process that was ongoing just east of the Park entrance.

In my quest for pine lillies a few weeks back, however, I followed a lead to one of these eastern gates and began wandering around.  I wouldn’t want to be out there in July but right now it is very sweet.  Wildflowers are everywhere in the scrub, and the wild grasses are in full “bloom.”  To those who say Florida doesn’t have a colorful Autumn I invite them to visit the Myakka prairies in the late day sun.  It is an artist’s palette.

The  tracks are mainly service roads but the pigs and other critters have made single tracks that lead off the roads and into the scrub. I was making my way through some of the scrub on Saturday, watching my step because the scrub roots are treacherous. From the corner of my eye I saw what I thought was a leaf falling… sideways.   Whoa!  Leaves do not “fall” sideways.  I looked down and saw this guy. 

A lime-green frog!  Very much the color of the scrub. He landed in a hole next to some burned scrub.  Of course my camera did not have the right lens on it for this occasion but I did the best I could, absolutely certain Kermit’s cousin would take one hop and be gone.

But he didn’t.  Turned out he was quite a poser but, alas, he had not chosen the best of stages.  He was about 3 inches below me and there was debris everywhere.  I kept snapping and clearing away…snapping and clearing away…snapping and clearing away.

He suffered this poor fool of a photographer very graciously.  After doing the best I could with the wide-angle lens I reached into the kit for my macro lens.  “This will do it,” I thought.  “He’s out of here.”

But no!  He hung around and soon I was on all fours. Well, make that all threes because one hand was holding the camera, trying to get into the right angle, feeling like a pretzel, hoping I wasn’t putting any appendage into an ant hill, and wondering if I would ever be able to extract myself.  The best picture of the day would probably have been a picture of me taking a picture of the frog.

All turned out okay and here is the best shot I could get of this wonderful treasure.  I believe he is a Squirrel Treefrog.  Just another of the jewels at Myakka. ❧

God Bless the Garbage Collectors

I was hiking around in my favorite place yesterday.  (That’s Myakka River State Park for those who are infrequent readers of my blog. )  I was heading down All-Weather Rd. at a fairly good clip, intent on getting to a trail that I had not visited in some time.  I’m not sure why I looked down but perhaps the angel on the shoulder of this Rainbow Scarab Dung Beetle cried out because my big right foot was heading right towards him.  He would have been a goner and I would have been the one who was truly crushed to have injured or killed such an incredible creature.

The Rainbow Scarab Dung Beetle is very aptly named.  He does seem to have all the colors of the rainbow on him.  He is certainly a scarab (the big horn and bright colors confirm that).  And that is a big piece of dung that he is pushing around.

I quickly dropped my gear and got down to eye level with this critter.  Have you ever seen such a thing?  He certainly is the best dressed garbage collector I’ve ever seen.  Dung beetles collect what most of us consider disgusting — excrement.     They serve us all by collecting and using the dung of animals for food and as a repository for their eggs.   In other words, they help make the dung go away.  This one was a roller and I read that dung beetles can roll up to 10 times their weight.  Other dung beetles pull their bounty and some are capable of pulling 1,141 times their own body weight: the equivalent of an average person pulling six double-decker buses full of people!  What a creature!  Humans have long been captivated by them.  At least that’s what the reference sources say.  There are even beetle dung derbies!

So, that’s what was happening at Myakka yesterday.  Creatures going about their business, never realizing just how fantastic they are and never getting even a nod of recognition from most of us.  So, I want everyone who reads this to look at this final dung beetle picture and say, with sincerity, “Thanks for cleaning up the s#!t.”  You’ll feel better for having done so.  😉 ❧

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