This weekend I took my daughter up to Rainbow Mountain for her to get rid of some extra energy at the playground and take some pictures for an upcoming article I am writing when out of the corner of my eye I saw one of the craziest insects I have ever seen.
Being from Minnesota I know there is much higher volume of bugs and many different species here that I am not familiar with so I snapped a picture and of it sent to my native Huntsvillian wife. The hope was she could help identify the bug and as an added bonus her receiving a text of crazy looking bug would scare the crap out of her. Retrospectively intentionally trying to scare your 8 month pregnant wife isn’t a good idea and I am forever thankful that this didn’t cause her to go into preterm labor.
Her research returned something very interesting; what we think I found was a Yellow Spotted, or Cyanide Millipede. According to San Diego Universities website. "The Yellow Spotted Millipede lives in moist forests along the Pacific Coast of North America from California to Alaska." Is it possible that Curse isn’t the only thing to relocate from California to Huntsville? Is this bug a really good software engineer and scouting homes up on Rainbow Mountain for him and his bug family to buy with their real estate windfall from the sale of their bug home in San Francisco? Probably too good to be true.
Further research had me thinking it was in Sigmoria trimaculata which is most commonly found in New England but I couldn’t say for sure so I did what any red blooded American would do, I emailed an expert. Rowland Shelley is a centipede and millipede expert from the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Science. I sent him the pictures and asked if what I found was indeed a Sigmoria trimaculata and he said "The color pattern is most consistent with Apheloria virginiensis Montana , but I suppose it could also be a species of Brachoria." "Sigmoria trimaculata is definitely out; it occurs from West Virginia northwards." We’ve since exchanged further correspondence where he has requested sample specimens to confirm the species. I am not sure that I am keen on picking one of these up but in the name of science I might just have to. (If anyone from the Huntsville community is able to collect one let me know!)
I may never know what kind of bug this is but this experience reminded me that when communing with nature it doesn’t always have to be about how far you canoed, how primitive your campsite is, or how breathtaking of a view you instagramed ("Look at this filter I put on my 8 megapixal photo to make it look like it was taken in 1983"). Sometimes it’s about reverting to you childhood by going small and taking a stick to search through the leaves. You never know what cool thing you might find.