December 6th, 2010


Urban Nature Pictures 12/05

Springtails on a boardwalk, at Ridge Hill Reservation in Needham. I stopped because I noticed some, then I noticed more, then I noticed that the leaf litter surrounding the boardwalk was covered with hundreds of thousands of them.

Here they are on the grain of the wood of the edge of the boardwalk. Springtails are tiny, harmless relatives of insects. They require moist conditions but are fairly resistant to cold, and so often appear in the winter in huge numbers, when other terrestrial arthropods are rare. I have previously photographed them on the surface of water and on snow.

There were so many of them that when we stopped hiking to take these pictures, we could hear them jumping on the leaves, like the fall of raindrops.

Check out Alexis' amazing photos of this event.

Squirrels are funny

Squirrels have become a bigger part of my job lately, since the high acorn production of the past two years has led to a population explosion. They are fascinating urban wildlife, and they are serious nuisance pests destroying wood and plastic structures, building nests in building cavities, and even stealing food from the zoo animals. It seem quite apt that g_weir would send me these two comic strips: