Aug 12 (2006): Well over 25 mm of rain fell overnight and everything was moist. Next to the compost heap I found a writhing mass of millipedes, easily two hundred in number. Moist soil and detritus must have triggered ideal mating and reproductive conditions for this common Greenhouse Millipede, Oxidus gracilis. This diplopod (two pairs of legs per body segment) is native to Japan and has become among the most common of millipedes across America. They belong to the flat-backed family, Paradoxosomatidae, and are roughly 30 mm long and 2½ mm wide, greyish brown with pale tawny highlights.
Aug 3 (1997): The first measurable rainfall after 4 months of drought. Dampness is replacing gritty dust. By nightfall thousands of alate termites were on the wing throughout Phoenix, many dropping into my yard. They had mated while in flight and had now arrived at a prospective site to start a new colony. They would be welcome to have the twigs and other woody scraps lying about, but an established colony could spell trouble for my mostly wooden abode. Luckily, Native Fire Ants or Forelius Ants will probably raid all of the nascent colonies and destroy them before getting established. So maybe I will rethink my desire to rid my yard of these ants!
Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2013