Thursday, September 09, 2004

Mailboxes and animals

Not in a mailbox but out my kitchen window June, 2006


Maybe, if I'm real quiet, they won't bother me.
Picture by Linda



Mailbox Visitor May, 2006


Last year I had this same visitor--you can read about it here.

Looks like he has quite a house. You might say it is first class!

Have a good weekend.






Another Mailbox Squatter June 20, 2005

This was one of those mailboxes that open from both sides. The other (back) side was left open so I guess this little guy thought he was hiding in the back--that is until I opened the front.

This is a Gray Tree Frog. They are numerous in this part of the state. From the site map, it appears we are on the western edge of their habitat.

Chip, our neighbor, was hiking at the marsh and took this picture of the same species.

He wrote the following about the picture:

Gray tree frog - Hyla versicolor, large numbers of these frogs began emerging from temporary pools at the marsh on Saturday the 18th of June. When they first emerge, the frogs have remnants of the tails they used for swimming as tadpoles. The young frogs are green only becoming grayish after they move away from the lush green vegetation surrounding the pond. At the peak of the emergence is was common to find 10 or more frogs on a plant.

These little guys are quite active. We have several on the outside of our windows at night. With the lights on the windows are covered with bugs which, as Dan says, gives the tree frog an "all you can eat buffet."





Bold or Daring Jumping Spider June 24, 2005


I asked around the post office yesterday and there was agreement among the three other rural carriers that this black spider was the most common resident in and on mailboxes. No one knew its name, including me. I was determined to identify it without Chip's help, but alas, I gave up & emailed the picture.

As it turns out, this is an interesting little creature named Bold or Daring Jumping Spider. The University of Kentucky Entomology site has excellent pictures of all species of jumping spiders. Bold jumping spiders are very common and easy to recognize. They are the largest of the jumping spider group. Their unique quick "herky-jerky" way of moving along with their multiple eyes enables them to pounce on their prey with amazing accuracy. Most are black with red or while markings and hairy.

The information indicated these spiders like man-made structures--including mailboxes. Perhaps its because these places attract other spiders or bugs for them to eat. They are often on the outside of the lid and will drop or probably more specifically jump into the truck when the lid is opened. It was after this exact event recently that I panicked and grabbed the spider. He did bite and it hurt--not for long. They are not normally aggressive as I have found them inside my vehicle just walking around checking things out.



Wheel Bug, member of the Assassin Bug Family June 20, 2005



A mailbox is a private container. The sanctity of the mail is assured every individual because of this Federal law. However, no one has informed the many creatures who find their way inside these boxes that they could go to jail or worse yet, squished, for being caught there.

As for me, I tend to ignore these little inhabitants. I figure if they leave me alone, then I will leave them alone. I was going to write a little about some of the freeloaders. But, after emailing Chip & following his information & links, there is one that deserves more space.

The picture posted above is a immature Wheel Bug, which, by the way, is a True Bug as opposed to a Lady Bug or June bug which are beetles. The mouthparts of a typical bug are made for biting, the true bug has a tube that pierces and sucks out juices.

The following is an account of how the Wheel Bug kills it's prey as written by Rob Curtis of the Hilton Pond Center

The Wheel Bug has some of the best-developed mouthparts of any True Bug. Its formidable beak arises at the anterior end of its long tubular head and unfolds forward. When it encounters a prey item--usually some adult insect or caterpillar--it typically lunges forward in its own slow way, grabs onto the prey with its front legs, and buries its hypodermic beak into some soft body part of the hapless prey. The Wheel Bug then injects enzyme-laden saliva--which immobilizes the prey within 30 seconds and turns its parts into porridge--after which the predatory bug sucks out all the victim's bodily fluids. This activity, of course, kills the prey item, which is why the Wheel Bug is classified in the Reduviidae--the Assassin Bug Family.

Note the eye which is called a "bulbous compound eye" and it also has a simple eye. There are two long jointed antennae which it uses to smell. When disturbed it produces an odor from scent sacs in its anus. These little bugs know what is going on in their world and those of us around them know they are there.

I learned two very important points about the Wheel Bug in my brief and not too thorough research. First, don't let them stick their beak in my hand and suck out my fluids because some say it hurts ten times more than a hornet sting. Secondly, don't kill them because these assassin bugs will eat agricultural pests such as grasshoppers larger than themselves. I will flick them off the lids & absolutely not let them fall down into the truck.



Friend in approach to mailbox April 9, 2005

This little friend was in the approach to a mailbox today. I had to back up and drive around. He was still trying to warm up, I guess. Posted by Hello

Yikes! Mouse in the Mailbox Sept 9, 2004
What a beautiful fall day--it feels like fall is in the air. Each grove of trees had locusts singing and the animals, especially squirrels, are busy hauling nuts around.

I have had a mouse in a mail box for about six months. The customer & I talked and we decided she was not hurting anything. But, every once in a while, she surprises me. Today I placed the mail in the box and turned around to get a package from the back. When I looked back in the box she was just sitting there on top of the mail looking at me. I jumped, she jumped and we continued to sit and stare at each other. She scurried away when I put the package in. I think I have a friend.

Several customers met me at the box to talk about the weather. It is always a good topic on nice days. The mail was back to normal so I was on time.

I just received good news--I will see Aaron & Adam tomorrow night. They will spend the night & head for the KSU game Saturday. Watch for a picture Sunday.

Headed out the door to mow grass. Later

1 comment:

andrea said...

Hi, I'm an RCA in Illinois and found your blog when I searched for "red and black spider in the mailbox". I was trying to find out what these critters are called!

Anyhow - just wanted to say that I enjoyed your "mailboxes and animals" page very much. Thanks for posting it!