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Did you flip a rock today? Below are photographs of what I discovered. As soon as I get linked up with Wanderin' Weeta, I will post a list of the participants so you can see what everyone found.

The rocks:

A pile of what we call "river rocks" used to stabilize a drainage area. This particular area is mowed grass, so it is irrigated often.

You would expect to find an isopod (also called rolypoly or pillbug), after all there's one on the International Rock Flipping Day badge.

But what is that with the isopod?

What is that brownish coiled object in the lower right of the photograph?

It is a tiny snail! There's another with its head out.

It's blurry, but definitely a snail. Finding snails is amazing in this hot, dry climate.

The snail wasn't the only one carrying it's house.

What is the gray object that looks like a small tube of mud? It is moving!

There is some sort of insect larva inside.

I think it is a beetle larva carrying a case. It is most likely a member of the leaf beetle family (Cryptocephalinae). It probably got washed to the drainage area during a recent storm.

Another tiny beetle scurries away.

Mites were common. Here's a brightly colored one.

Spiders were also abundant. This tiny jumping spider seems to have its eyes on something.

Maybe it was trying to catch one of these Indian house cricket nymphs.I don't envy any predator that hunts these.

I know I had trouble capturing them with my camera. The springtails that were everywhere were even worse. I never did get a photograph of them.

Finally, I did find some ants. I posted those results at Wild About Ants.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of creatures I found. And in addition to finding different kinds, I also learned a little bit more about my neighbors that live under rocks.

Did you flip any rocks this weekend? What did you find?

For more information about the creatures featured here try:


Indian house crickets

Jumping spiders


Snails and raising snails


This deserves a special post:

International Rock Flipping Day is coming up in a few weeks. September 11, 2011 to be exact.

What is International Rock Flipping Day? It is a blog carnival to celebrate all those critters that live under rocks, as well as the naturalist spirit that drives you to look a little deeper.

How do you participate?

Basically you go outside and look under a rock or two. Record what you see by drawing, painting, taking photographs or recording in your nature journal. (If you live where there might be poisonous creatures under there, like scorpions or snakes, you might want to use gloves and/or a bar to flip the rocks.)

When you are done, carefully return the rock to its original position.

Then blog about what you found. out.

I will have more information about more information about where to send your posts as the date approaches. I believe Wanderin' Weeta will be hosting.

Edit:  Yes, Wanderin' Weeta is hosting and you can get the full scoop now.

My School of Ants kit came in the mail today and I realized I hadn't told you about it yet.

This citizen-science project involves gathering samples of ants from near homes or schoolyards throughout the United States.

To participate you simply need to visit the website School of Ants, sign up, and order an ant sampling kit (the kits are free). Everyone is welcome to give it a try.

The kit will contain three types of vials. The blue-capped vials (they come with cookie bait) are to sample in a yard or other green space. The red-capped vials are for sampling a sidewalk location. If you have any other ants or even other insects, that you would like identified, send them along in the orange-capped vial.

You will need to leave the baited vials on the ground for one hour, open to let the ants crawl in. Then you cap the samples and place the ones with ants in the freezer for at least an hour (I recommend overnight).

You will need to purchase an envelope and postage to mail the samples back, so there will be some cost to you.

The ants you send in will be identified and recorded on a map. It's that simple!

I would love to hear from you if you decide to participate. Let me know what you find.

And if you'd like to find more citizen science projects, try the Citizen Science Network. There is a project finder feature that let's you search by keyword and whether it is family-friendly.