So, to wrap up the things that were in and around the blueberry patch: First, here’s another cockroach. This time I’ve got the full length antennae in the picture.
Given that it was nowhere near the house, I think it is safe to say that this is one of the species that prefers the outdoors.
The creatures posted so far that I found in the blueberry mulch are mostly mild-mannered detrivores, eating various bits of rotting things. But, there are others there to feed on the detrivores. Like this rather pretty little cobweb-weaver spider:
My parents’ blueberry patch is in a swamp, very wet and lush. It is, quite literally, a jungle down there. Filled with plants that like it wet, like this “manfern” .
There is also a lot of what is locally known as “tea-tree”, which ranges in size from a scrubby little bush to fairly substantial trees. The bark is shaggy and kind of peels away from the trunk in big sheets.
While rummaging around under the bark of various rotting Tasmanian stumps, I found several of these large queen wasps hibernating (but only photographed this one)
I aways found them singly, never in groups, and they were obviously waiting for spring so that they could go out and establish new nests. She’s pretty clearly a queen wasp, and since wasps like this aren’t native to Australia, she must be one of the two accidentally imported species – most likely the German Wasp, Vespula germanica.
Since it was the middle of the Tasmanian winter in June, there wasn’t a lot of ant activity. I only found two ants, in fact: a black one under the bark of a rotting stump near the apple orchard, and a red one down in the blueberry mulch. At first, I thought the black one was one of the infamous “bulldog ants” of Australia, based on the big, aggressive mandibles and the distinctly segmented abdomen.
These were also found in the blueberry patch mulch (bark and pine needles on top of sheets of newspaper). They were pretty tiny, as you can see by comparing them with my fingertip:
They were about the size and approximate shape of a flea, and could jump a couple of inches, but they weren’t fleas.
After the sweep through the house, my dad said that if I really wanted to find lots of little creatures, I should go down to the blueberry patch and look under the mulch around the plants. So, off to the blueberries I went! The mulch was sheets of newspapers with moist wood chips, bark, and pine needles on top, so all I had to do was push aside the top layer to expose the newspaper, or peel up the newspaper to expose the soil underneath. There were a lot of things under there, so let’s start with the several kinds of millipedes
While rummaging around the house, we found a number of other tiny creatures. This first one was a little green caterpillar crawling on one of the apples in the kitchen fruit bowl. Which is pretty good evidence that my parents don’t use pesticides. This was a pretty small caterpillar, less than an inch long.
Here’s another one that I probably didn’t really have to go to the other side of the planet to find, but that we just don’t seem to have up in Houghton: the ever-popular silverfish!
I’d been noticing that some of my parents’ books have insect damage, mostly to the edges of the pages. Like we see here (which is, fittingly, a page of a book that includes articles about insects)