I recommend that you proceed through this post in the order that it’s presented. That is, watch the video cold, without any background info or written explanation. Then read the text that follows. By doing it this way, I think your experience will be similar to mine, and you’ll have the opportunity to discover or figure out what’s happening on your own, which I find more interesting and memorable than merely being told. Let me know if you agree, okay?
So go ahead and watch this. It’s just under 2 minutes long.
If the embedded video doesn’t play for you, you can watch the video on YouTube.
Part One: Hatching Fun
Any idea what you just witnessed? Of course you have some idea: You just watched it happen.
One night last week, I looked out the window and saw insect mayhem under the carport lights. It’s not like that every night, so I knew it was special. I also knew it was some sort of insect hatch because I’ve seen them before.
When I went out for a closer look, I discovered dozens of frogs and toads hopping about, gorging on the insect feast. Both yard irrigation and recent rain bring in frogs and toads. Between insects chirping and frogs croaking, there is a loud party happening in the garden each and every night. It makes me aware of how silent Alaska is.
Did you notice the four different segments of the video? This is what’s happening in each:
Gazillions of flying ants (a kind of termite) have hatched after a good rain and are swarming in the light of the carport.
Eventually, the ants land on the ground, and their wings fall off. You can see both winged and wingless ants scurrying about, as well as shed wings lying on the ground.
Frogs and toads, in front of the car and behind, hop about slurping up delicious, fresh ants, sometimes with wings, sometimes without.
On the ground outside the carport, more frogs gather to join the feast. There was a pair mating, but that didn’t stop the bottom frog from getting her share of yummy ants.
As I recorded the scene, flying ants bumped into me, landed on me, and got their wings stuck in my hair. Frogs, likewise, hopped on my toes, and one tiny one climbed up my leg, ant in its mouth. I edited out all the parts in the video where I startled or had to get a bug out of my hair. You’re welcome.
As I was being bombarded by insects and frogs, I rather frantically kept an eye out for snakes. Snakes eat frogs, and I had just moments before read in our field guide the twelve—twelve!—pages of snakes found here in southern Africa. Gah!
Perhaps it should be noted that we have not yet seen a snake and would be happy to not see one at all in the next three+ months. I am always watching for them.
Snakes aside, the hatch was a way-cool event to witness. If you want to watch again knowing what you know now, go for it.
Part Two: A Special Visitor
As videos go, this one is awful. As events go, this one is darn cool. I’ve kept it super short—just 15 seconds—so it’s not too painful, I don’t think.
Again, you can watch this on YouTube if that works better for you.
The night after the Big Hatch, there was a smaller hatch. Much smaller. This time, a long, slinking, mammal came to feast. Mike first spotted it up on a rafter, so we knew it was a climber. It looked and moved like a weasel, but it was much bigger and had a long, lovely ringed tail. The tail was as long as the body. Given our location, I figured it was a mongoose of some kind. Our field guide told us it was a genet. I think it was a large-spotted genet as opposed to a small-spotted genet, because I’m pretty sure it didn’t have a light tip on the tail, but I wouldn’t stake my life on it.
It was around for maybe ten minutes, so I had a good, long look. The fur was beautiful, and the animal was adorable, graceful, and agile like a cat. And, speaking of cats, it was Little Miss, the huntress, who came out to see what all the fuss was. “Oh, I can take care of that,” she said. And she did, despite my attempt to stop her, both for her safety and that of the genet.
“Why on Earth would you want to look at one of those ugly, smelly things when you can pet beautiful, soft, friendly me as I purr on your lap? Silly people!” she said.
We have no good pictures of the genet, so if you want to see one, do a search or try this. Actually, try that link anyway; it’s fun!
Is that pretty or what?