Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Giant African "Things" in our Yard: May's Nature Notes

Apparently May was the month for "Giant African" things to make their way into our yard.  (It is actually with some fear and trepidation that I share these photos lest my mother should see them since she has purchased tickets to come visit us next month.  She might prefer not to know what is in our yard.  Mother, if you are reading this, please just remember these were only in the YARD and not in the HOUSE.  Just sayin'…)
This is a Giant West African snail:
These two were on the front walkway.
This one on the papaya tree just outside the kitchen window.  We have seen many, many of these in the yard and in and around the various plants in our yard, and have seen the slime that they leave in their wake on our front walkway.  According to Wikipedia, they are actually "considered to represent a potentially serious threat as a pest, an invasive species which could negatively affect agriculture, natural ecosystems, human health or commerce." Great, and I have them all over my yard.  Sigh.
And this is the African Giant Millipede.
I had seen a much smaller species of millipede before when I lived in Papua New Guinea, but never one as big as this.  I didn't get close enough to measure, but I'd guess it was at least 8 inches long, and as big around as my little finger.  Once I convinced my kids it wasn't a snake (THANKFULLY!), we actually enjoyed watching it travel up and down and over and through the grass.  According to our Illustrated World Encyclopedia of Insects, these "arthropod wonders of Africa" are also "favourite pets" when "kept in a tank, with a layer of damp peaty soil, in warm conditions with high humidity."   The kids were a little bit disappointed that I didn't have a tank handy to keep him in – after all, I let them keep the spiny flower mantis and the caterpillar we found in our neighborhood…  
(Just as a note, one should exercise caution if you encounter a millipede – they can excrete an irritating/poisonous substance when they feel threatened.  This is why we watched from a distance…)
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  1. Wow, these are so neat! I love seeing these wonders from the other side of the world. :)

  2. I always love getting a peek at your wildlife there, Jen. And those nails! The shells remind me of some of the sea snails we have here.