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When rock and roll turns dangerous

June 30, 2017

I recently had the opportunity to escort some primary school students through the bush on an exercise to (carefully!) roll over logs and see what invertebrates we could find underneath. Naturally changing the name of the activity to Rock and Rolling was far more exciting.

The wish when doing these activities is to find things which will keep the kids engaged for the duration of the exercise. The first log turned revealed a large female Wolf Spider and its diminutive male partner. This discovery was accompanied by much screaming and yelling and a general rush in the backward direction although a hardy few got down on their hands and knees to take pictures with their i-Phones of the less than happy couple.

Subsequent logs revealed millipedes and Darkling Beetles (boring!)  – their words not mine. The discovery of a 5cm long centipede revved up the interest again. It was not until the last 5 minutes that we ventured up a rocky slope with very little fallen timber. The first rock rolled revealed a decent sized scorpion, pictured below.  I was reliably informed by Eamon, who has previously featured in this blog, that it was a Black Rock Scorpion (Urodacus manicatus).

These creatures excavate tunnels under rocks and come to the surface to feed on all the boring insects we had previously seen – beetles, spiders, millipedes, etc. Their sting although not deadly to humans causes considerable pain and swelling.

My job was done. We found a creature that would be the subject of conversations for a least the bus ride home. Each rock we rolled revealed a scorpion hidden underneath, quite extraordinary. And as the excitement ramped up, every kid wanted to find their own scorpion. My job now changed from keeping the students engaged to curbing their natural and macabre interest in all things poisonous.

At days end I had seen more scorpions than I had collectively seen in my whole life…and a new found respect for teachers.

No animals were hurt in obtaining this story.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    June 30, 2017 12:22 pm

    Wonderful work Ron! your story telling is very descriptive! Where were you that there were so many scorpions? Mt Piper?

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