Tag: International Rock Flipping Day (Page 1 of 2)

International Rock Flipping Day September 9, 2012

Did you flip a rock yesterday?

Yesterday was International Rock Flipping Day, a wonderful time to get your children outside to explore the natural world.

We chose to flip the same river rocks as we used in past years. It is actually fascinating to see how things change from year to year. Here in Arizona we had quite a bit of rain recently, and it was actually damp under the rocks. There was a definite increase in the numbers of critters we saw over the results for 2009.

As to be expected, the sowbugs and pillbugs (isopods) were abundant.


Sowbugs and pillbugs tend to hide from the light, so are often found under rocks.

We found these cute, shiny beetles in two different spots. They may be the same ones we saw last year.

We also saw this little guy.

This year we saw a weevil. Some kinds of weevils hide under rocks during the summer, going into a resting phase known as aestivation.

We could tell it was a weevil because of the long snout, almost like an elephant’s trunk.

We saw some cixiid planthopper nymphs (remember the adult from Bug of the Week last week?). This one was really moving, so it is blurry. I included it because it has the waxy filaments forming a tail on the back of the abdomen.

I pulled one out for a somewhat better photograph.

We were happy to see some of the tiny snails we had seen before.

Just love those little eye stalks!

That is what I was able to catch on camera. We also saw the same ant species as we saw last year. I’ll talk about that at Wild About Ants.

Did you participate? We’d love to hear what you found.

Be sure to visit Wanderin’ Weeta for links to more participants.

Upcoming Science Fun

Exciting opportunities to learn more about biology/nature are popping up all over this fall.

1. It is time once again to plan for

International Rock Flipping Day:  September 9, 2012.

What is International Rock Flipping Day? It is a special day to celebrate all those critters that live under rocks, as well as the naturalists who want to find out more about them.

To participate all you need to do is find some nice rocks and flip them over. 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 some sort of bar to flip the rocks.)

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

If you take photographs or write a blog article about your results, be sure to link up with Wanderin’ Weeta, who hosts the event. If you are interested in seeing what others have found, I’ll post a link to the summary post after it goes up.

We’ve been having some nice rains this summer, so I’m hoping for some interesting finds.

(What I found in 2011).

2. It’s also time for the monarch butterflies to start migrating again. Be sure to keep an eye out for butterflies in your area, and also an eye out for the

upcoming IMAX film Flight of the Butterflies.

Here’s the trailer, or as they call it “teaser”:

Look for more information and links for educational opportunities at the movie website.

3. Last, but not least, the New York Botanical Garden has a new interactive website called

Plant Hunters

It does take a bit of patience to navigate your way around, but there is a wealth of information about plants. Click on the word “Enter” on the first page, and then look up in the right hand corner. If you click on that box, it should take you to a list of the “challenges.” You can then pick the challenge that suits your interest.

Please let us know if you have any questions, or if you have any other fun fall events to share.

International Rock Flipping Day: Results 2011

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

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