Sunday, December 04, 2011

Tiny big cone community

I had a hankering for snails; it's been a while since I've been nose to nose with one. I poked around the garden, and found none. No slugs, either.

So I brought in an old cone from a big cone pine tree, and shook it out to see what it was hiding. One small milliipede, two miniscule earthworms, three infant slugs, four mini pill bugs; those were the bigger critters snuggled cosily under the scales.

Then there were the really teeny-tinies, starting with the snails at 2 millimetres long (Yes! I found some!), and going down from there.

"Hmm ... What's down there, I wonder?"

"I'll just slither down and see."

Pair of beetle mites*, about 1 mm. long, covered with bristles and droplets of water.

Mite, dried off, the bristles barely visible. He has a passenger, at the tail end.

Springtail, about as long as a mite, but a lot skinnier. And bouncier.

A different springtail, also about 1 mm. long.

And half their length, a variegated globular springtail. Extremely boingy.

*Thank you, Christopher!


  1. The mites are lovely, though they're not the ones usually called spider mites. They're beetle mites (oribatids), named for their hard shells. You can tell that they're beetle mites from the well-separated 'head' region (not really the head, but never mind). I couldn't tell you exactly what type of beetle mite, I'm afraid.

  2. Fantastic journey down.

  3. Your photography is amazing! And you opened my eyes to the hidden world of a pine cone . Thank you!

  4. Thanks, Christopher! You've corrected me before on mites, I remember. I never seem to get them right. I'll have to study harder before next time.

  5. I think it wonderful that you have experts who read your blog and comment!
    I fumble in the dark, learning about the new critters in this neck of the woods.

    Cheers from Cottage Country!

  6. Snails and springtails; two of the animals I've actually studied :)

    Can't tell for sure, but your snails look like Zonitoides sp. I know Z. arboreus is in British Columbia, not sure about others.

  7. If you have a hankering for snails, I started with one and now my cup runneth over.

    I return them ( Allogona townsendii) to the woods I got them from when they become big enough to pickup easily with two fingers.

  8. Thanks, David!

    Jenn, I think it's wonderful, too. People are so kind!

    Upupaepops; They're breeding in your snail container?


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