Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Dead Millipede Mystery

All these pictures of pretty flowers are getting kind of boring.  Nature is not always pretty, as evidenced by last winter's photos of what eagles and coyotes could do to one dead deer.  Or these pictures of one dead millipede (Narceus americanus), which appears to have been parasitized by something that laid eggs inside it.   At least I think those shiny little pearls spilling out of the millipede's guts are eggs.  My grandkids found it broken open like this, and knowing their grandma well, called out:  "Ooh, Grandma!  Come look at this!"  I wonder if some critter was about to eat it and threw it away in disgust.  Or did the eggs expand and burst the millipede's seams?  As always, if any reader knows what's happening here, I hope a comment will inform us all.

Click on this photo.  Looks like a little spider has joined the feast.

Here's a photo of the same kind of millipede, alive and healthy, taken a few weeks ago.

Okay, here's a little sex to balance the gore.  I'm afraid I spoiled these Six-spotted Tiger Beetles' good time when I poked my camera at them.  They flew away before I could get them in focus. But you get the idea.


Ellen Rathbone said...

You have some great shots here! I especially like the tiger beetles - what great colors they are!

I wonder if the eggs were laid after the fact - some flies find carcasses withing minutes of death! Hm. The best way to find out is to bring the deceased home and see what hatches out. Then you can ID the hatchlings and work backwards to discover what happened. Good luck!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks, NatureGirl. Why didn't I think of bringing that millipede home? I'm going to have to carry some zip-lock bags in my camera bag. Didn't want to shove this gooey mess in my pocket!

Kenton and Rebecca said...

Sex and violence on a nature blog! =) Actually, this was a great post -- those beetles are stunning, and the millipede leaves so many questions and mysteries in one's mind. NatureGirl sure had a great idea, though one must consider whether we'd really want to know what emerges . . .

How fun. Thanks for the great adventures!