02 May 2010


Friday's CBSP trip gave us post fodder for a looong time - so there may be a few installments of the April adventure well into May. Ah well, it's exciting! So in this post I'd like to offer you feet. Yes, feet. Other posts have included plenty of my feet, so Matt's are the primary focus... at least, the creatures that investigated his feet, anyway.

Impromptu foot model, indeed. The poor Black-and-yellow Lichen Moth (Lycomorpha pholus) inadvertently mistook Matt's ankle for a delicious spot to nectar (nectar as a verb = +4 points!) ...and you're saying "that moth is black and red/orange!" and you're right. But the name is still Black-and-yellow Lichen Moth (kind of like Ring-necked Duck, whose neck-ring is invisible, their names mock us).

Great product placement, I know. First we have a nice big TEVA label and now you can see the inside ankle strap configuration. Matt's old ones were falling apart (sole was delaminating), so these shiny new ones attracted... shiny new bugs. You can tell the bug isn't "new" because something has already taken a chunk out of its shell! Lest you think this sprinting creature is too cute, its common name is Caterpillar Hunter (Calosoma scrutator). Had Matt wiggled his toes, they may have become a snack! Kidding there, I hope, but how ridiculously awesome is that name?? Unless you're a caterpillar, anyway.

Now, the pour off where Matt and I first lounged in July of 2007 is absolutely gorgeous. The biodiversity along this stretch of Colorado River tributary is astonishing. We never did ID the two snakes we came across, since neither were close nor cooperative. One in the water was large and boldly striped (almost like a broad-banded water snake, but not quite) and the tiny fellow streaking through the forest was long and slender and had three pale stripes running its length. Ribbon? Garter? Could have been either.

The fishies that I've been so smitten with are either sunfish or bluegill or known by any number of common names, and the rather large Red-eared Slider was quite at home with them. But more cooperative than any of the aforementioned critters: little aquatic invertebrates. From a distance, the rocks merely looked slightly hairy with plant growth. They're not plants at all; they're thirsty freshwater fringes of invert life!

If you didn't realize that you were looking at a limestone pour off, you might be inclined to call them anemones. They sway in flow of the water and asynchronously bend as if the water was far deeper and insignificant in their wiggles.

Beautiful little foot-mouth creatures, no?

Leeches! Seriously, who doesn't love leeches?? Okay, most people don't realize how endearing they are. They are fish food, turtle food, bird food and on rare occasion, a slight inconvenience to humans. These are apparently fond of fish due to their cylindrical shape...

"The leeches that attach to people while swimming in Texas ponds and lakes are usually those that normally parasitize water animals but will affix to swimmers when attracted by factors such as movement. Their size is typically less than one inch long or at most one and a half inches. Leeches do not transmit human diseases and skin damage is considered quite minor. Leeches that are attached to people may be merely removed by hand or encouraged to release by application of table salt."

From the "Leeches In Texas Waters" pdf
S. K. Johnson, Extension Fish Disease Specialist
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Texas A&M University

So nothing to worry about. My right ankle showed a trace of blood when we got back to the Jeep, but it could have been a scratch from vegetation as much as anything else. But because it didn't want to scab and had no visible puncture, I suppose I did my part in supporting the food chain. Since Matt's feet got all of the other "visitors," it was my turn anyway!

Your bloodthirsty water-thirsty adventurers:

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