09 April 2010

Getting along nicely under the rocks

Once the weather begins to get warmer and the top soil thaws, the hypolithic animals return from their undisclosed winter hideouts to the undersides of the rocks. They are still hidden most of the time, but one can now find them easily by overturning rocks. About a week ago, a couple of large rocks in the backyard, when overturned, displayed their menagerie of arthropods.


Swarms of ants and isopods, apparently tolerating each other well, were underneath both rocks. A detailed look at the clusters of ants revealed many eggs or larvae being transported.


Detailed looks at other spots under the same rocks also revealed several millipedes or millipede-like creatures among the ants and the isopods.


I hadn't noticed them while taking pictures. Obviously, the ants are leaving alone the isopods and the millipedes.


Absent were snails and slugs. Although slugs and isopods tolerate each other, I don't know if ants and gastropods are ever found together in large numbers.

9 comments:

fred schueler said...

Hypolithic! I like it.

Julia said...

Can you please hold that rock up while I get my earphones? ;)

AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

Fred: Hypolith is in the dictionary, but not hypolithic. However, if you Google for the latter, you do get hits.

Julia: Yes, I wonder what the isopods & ants say to each other.

Deniz Bevan said...

Ha ha! We were at the Ecomuseum today, overturning rocks by the dozen! Worms, slugs, beetles, but no salamanders yet...

yellowcat said...

Hypolithic, I will have to find occasion to use that word.

naturenutlady@gmail.com said...

I have been enjoying your blog :)

The other millipede like insects under the rock are sow bugs. Excellent decomposers that enjoy dark, damp places full of decaying matter.

AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

Sow bugs are the isopods. I am talking about the worm-like critters visible in the 3rd picture.

Coyote said...

Could the worm-like creatures be terrestrial leeches?

AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

Terrestrial leeches in Maryland?