Sunday, April 15, 2018
What Is that ?
It was warm yesterday and not raining at the moment so Ed and I decided to walk down to the road to put the the outgoing mail in the box and raise the flag. I tend to walk down the right side of the driveway since anyone coming up is usually in the middle or to their right. I noticed this weird oval of black stuff wondering what it was but kept on walking. The driveway is more than 0.3 of a mile all downhill to the road. The last part is fairly steep. After a brief garden inspection we headed to the house. Needless to say we were moving a lot slower on the way back up the hill. It is ever so much cooler to say "Oh wow look at this blob of black stuff! What the heck is it?" than is is to say " Hey Wild Bill wait for me, I'm out of breath!" Besides I was curious! It was a lucky thing I had the camera in my coat pocket. We had never seen a formation like this one and we have been walking up and down this driveway for nearly 25 years.
A closer look revealed that the moving tiny black specks were springtails. We have often seen them on the snow in footprints or a low spot. These little bugs literally have a spring like appendage that allows them to jump, but gives them no control over their direction. It is easier to see them on the leaves but you can also see them on the sticks and the stones. When you consider the uncountable number of springtails visible in this photo, click on the image, imagine how many there are in the big oval spot.
When I made the trip back down to the mailbox in the afternoon, things had dried off because the sun was shining and the tiny black creatures were gone. One has to wonder just where they all went. At this time of year we frequently see birds apparently feeding on the stone surface of the driveway. It now seems that springtails may be on the menu here.