Tag Archives: Las Cruces

First snake of the trip

My first snake sighting of this year’s LSAMP REU trip; perhaps a dryad or salmon-bellied snake (Mastiogodryas melanolomus), although quite a tentative identification. It appeared to be about to shed—much of its body appeared greyish white as the scales peel away. Edit: it looks like this is probably a bird eating snake, Pseutes poecilonotus, which varies quite heavily in their coloration and includes a morph with the greyish hue that we’ve found. I also reported it in 2015.

Darko and I encountered this specimen along the Loop Trail.

Trap-jaw ant

Trap-jaw ants (Odontomachus bauri) patrol a bed of moss and detritus on a tree trunk, jaws wide open. Disruptions to hairs on the inner side of their jaw trigger an explosively fast and powerful closure—check out the size of their head, which houses the muscles responsible for clamping their mandibles inward.¬†

The closure is so powerful that the ant itself is sometimes launched off of the ground. In fact, they use the launch to escape predators.

Don’t worry, they’re unable to hurt humans.

Cyathea

Tree fern from the Wilson Botanical Garden.

I’ve made many tree fern posts because they are bizarre (at least as someone who grew up in the Neartic) and fantastic. While there is one on the Georgia Southern Armstrong Campus, it dies back in the winter and February 2018 was particularly harsh—I haven’t seen it return.