Night moves

September 11, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Where was a grandchild when I needed one? Tonight, as has been my pattern for the past week or so, I slowly walked a circuit of the edge of the lawn, my headlamp off. I was looking for the larvae of lightning bugs, and these armor-plated mini-carnivores, which prey on snails and worms, are also bioluminescent, emitting a soft glow in the grass and the leaf litter when a nearby footstep disturbs their hunting. The grandkids have enjoyed seeing this, and I thought about them as I made the circuit and turned up one candidate "glow-worm." But when I got low to the ground to try to zero in on the young beetle with my lights and 85mm micro, I couldn't locate the spark. I did, however, notice a Four-toed Salamander, which was also on the prowl through the grasses and mosses that pass for a lawn. The telltale black spots on the amphibian's light belly are a diagnostic giveaway, and the critter, probably hunting for similar glow-worm prey, was far more cooperative about modeling, save for showing off one other field mark. Try as I might, I couldn't get a shot of those four hind-leg toes. You'll have to take the quartet on faith.


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