Flora, Fauna and Fungi

When we first moved South, we expected the heat and humidity. We were moving into a swamp after all. We expected to see the alligators and turtles and to be eaten by South Carolina’s biting gnats, dubbed “no see ’ems” and mosquitoes. Last year we moved into a house with a pool so we’ve also had our fair share of creepy crawlies, including snakes, spiders, water bugs (aka: the giant flying breed of cockroaches that love water), horseflies, beetles and wasps. We’ve had a few millipedes here and there but imagine my surprise when I lifted up our bath mat to find this little fellow.

That’s a centipede the size of my kid’s finger. Millipedes don’t bother me as much because they’re not poisonous and only eat dead vegetation. Centipedes? Those things bite. I don’t do bugs that bite or sting. I can handle snakes and such, but bugs? Nuh-uh. I usually handle myself with a certain level of decorum around insects. I don’t usually jump or scream even if they creep me out. I’m the back away slowly type. This guy completely caught me off guard. The kids had been in the pool today, and after their bath had completely drenched the bath mat. As I lifted it to put it in the laundry, something dark fell to the ground. Chaos ensued.

Me: “AHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Oooh my God. Ooooh my GOD!! What the **** is that?!? Is that a centipede?! ****!!”

**Pitter patter of children’s feet**

Me: “DON’T MOVE! DON’T COME IN HERE!”

**The pitter patter gets closer**

Me: “DON’T YOU DARE COME IN HERE!! GO GET ON THE BED AND DON’T MOVE A MUSCLE!!!”

I get that I’m freaking out over a centipede, but to me, they’re akin to tarantulas or scorpions. Especially considering how large this guy was.

Kids: “Mama!! What happened?! What is it?! Can we see?!”

Me: “No! Stay there! I need to kill it! Oh my God. This thing is running! Crap!!”

I run to get my flip-flops from the entry way, run back and smack the crap out of it. I lift up my flip-flop from the edge to peek and it darts out.

Me: “AHHHHHH!!!”

I proceed to throw my flip-flop back at this centipede and miraculously it lands on top of it. In my mind, it’s obvious that this throw did not kill it, especially considering I smacked it already and it still was able to run. After about 30 seconds of no movement from underneath my shoe, I gather my courage and lift the flip-flop. He’s squirming. I quickly hit him another 4 times. He seems immobilized now, but his antennae still taunt me. He’s moving his head around, seemingly trying to detach it from his smushed body. I have no sympathy. I’m all about preserving nature, but not when it surprises me under a bath mat and has the capacity to bite. Then it’s me or the bug, and I have a pretty strong sense of self-preservation.

Needless to say, I gathered enough courage to drop him into this container (with a tissue, because EW!) and showed my husband.

Husband: “You know the kids probably brought him in on their towels. They left their towels on the ground next to the pool.”

Say what now? My children wrapped themselves in a towel with a covert ninja centipede? It took an embarrassing amount of willpower not to lose my mind and napalm the entire yard over that little comment. Terrifying. Absolutely horrific to think that no one would have noticed that size centipede on their towel but my husband makes a good point. The circumstances align well enough that he’s probably correct in his hypothesis. The alternative, that this beast actually hitched a ride not on a towel but on a child is even more frightening.

Several minutes after said beast was flushed down a toilet, I made a new house rule of keeping our pool towels on a chair while swimming and always shaking them out before using them. I’ll have to remember this little tidbit with our shoes when we’re travelling. God only knows what little creatures we’ll find.

As for fungi and flora, the kids were thrilled to find this little treasure next to one of our trees in the backyard. This is Wolf’s Milk Slime. If you push on one of them and they pop, the slime from the inside oozes out. It’s the consistency of toothpaste but is orange-tinged. Lucky for me, my husband was the one to witness that particular discovery.

 

Our garden was also visited today by all of the regulars: anole lizards, bees, wasps, beetles, honey bees, tree frogs, humming birds, bats and mosquitoes. All that was missing was an alligator sighting to round out the day… Joking! They like to stay in the pond down the street…

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