Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Half Day

Because I was rained out yesterday, I headed over to work this morning with my swimsuit on to get the buoy line fixed. I had originally planned to take today off because I will be helping another park interview applicants for a new ranger on my regularly scheduled day off. I couldn't leave this project undone for the weekend though, so I had a morning swim. The project went smoothly, but it did take a little longer than expected and I got many more bug bites than I expected. I picked up some garbage on the opposite side of the spring and was immediately attacked by fire ants. I thought a swim across the spring would get rid of them, but by the time I got out, there was one chomping down in my arm pit! Really?! It couldn't be tasty there! When I got home to get cleaned up I found another huge welt on my leg. That must have been a mosquito or biting fly of some sort though because it was much bigger than an ant bite. My profession has taught me a lot about insects and especially what each of them can do to my skin.
The buoy line was an easy fix though. It was not cut as we had suspected, it was a weak point in the line that eventually rusted apart. I know for sure that it was not cut because the cable was frayed and when I tried to cut out a bad section, it was VERY difficult, even with bolt cutters. I had enough slack at one end to pull the cable through the buoys and clamp it together. I also added a few clamps to keep the buoys in place along the cable. Most of them already had clamps but we ran out the last time we replaced the line. I completed the job... only a year or two late. I would have taken better photos, but I was trying hard to not slip in the squishy, slick clay on the side of the spring. The clay is another side effect of flooding. The banks get wet and that clay stays slick for MONTHS afterwards. Clay is also very attractive to kids (and sometimes women interested in face masks... no joke). Picking up clay mud pies from the railing and sidewalks is not really all that fun. My co-worker and I have joked about putting up "No mud pies beyond this point" signs, but that might just give more people the idea.
After my morning mud treatment, I went home and then headed to Ichetucknee to help celebrate a co-workers birthday. She was given some beautiful roses. I couldn't resist taking a photo. We also had some very tasty lasagna and an amazing cherry/pineapple crisp. With a full belly I went home to enjoy my day off.
Earlier this week I took too many critter pictures to post in one day, so I will share some more now. This is a red-sided flat millipede. It sounds like I just made that up, doesn't it? So many bugs get really boring names, maybe it is because they are less desirable to the majority of the population. Butterflies get beautiful names like fritilary, monarch, zebrawing. Other creepy-crawlers get names like red-sided flat millipede. Well, sorry for the dumb name, Mr. Millipede, here is your moment to shine. I see these millipedes almost daily. They are also frequent visitors of the walkway and sometimes have been known to fly with a little help from the leaf blower. I do not ever pick them up to relocate them like I do with the frogs. They have the ability to spray cyanide to defend themselves from predators. It would not harm me, but I would rather not take any chances. They eat mostly detritus (decaying organic material like leaves and sticks) but can also eat small insects. They are beautiful in their own way. Do you know how to tell a millipede from a centipede? It isn't the total number of legs as many people assume. Centipedes have one pair of legs for every segment of their body while millipedes have two or more pairs per segment.
The final picture is a great contrast to the grasshopper pictured earlier this week. This one is so tiny! It is not a Lubber like the other so it will only grow to normal grasshopper standards, but its cute! A little later in the summer, on sunny days, the walkway will be bombarded by grasshoppers of all shapes and sizes. Its fun to walk through and watch them ricochet around the high walls of the walkway to escape people feet.

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