6 March 2008

Friday's nature Trail at Bourrou with the kids - great fun !

On Friday, we had about 17 kids from a local children's home visit for a Nature Trail. The kids from this home are regular visitors to our farm in Bourrou and it's always great to see them. The kids who have never been before are easy to spot, with that "Bored by the whole thing" look and their unsuitable footwear. I love watching the regular kids showing them around and usually, by the end of the visit the whole bunch are interested and excited about what there is to see.

The four dogs came too and added to the fun. It's so nice to be able to walk Judy in the woods now that she's learned to obey us and not hunt when we don't want her to.

In the woods, Fabrice showed us a great selection of Badger holes, as many as 18 which means the sets house a lot of badgers and the tunnels they make probably go underground for hundreds of metres.

On the way back up to the house, we looked in a puddle and saw deer prints and one the kids noticed a skinny worm and just as we were about to dismiss it as "Just a worm." I decided to pick it out to have a closer look and discovered that it was a Horse Hair Worm (Phylum Nematomorpha or Gordian Worm) - an insect parasite.

Horsehair eggs are laid in the water in long strings where the adults live. After hatching, the larvae penetrate some aquatic insect, they escape in some unknown way from this host and find their way into a second host - usually a beetle, cricket, or grasshopper. In the body cavity of the second host the larvae continue their development eventually passing out into the water where they become mature. Since the adults live only in water, those that survive probably emerge from terrestrial and flying insects, who are their second hosts.

This is a video of a cricket infected with Parasitic Gordian worm who jumps into a swimming pool and the worm emerges from the cricket...

After the woods, we came back up to the house and the kids hand fed the goats, the chickens and geese and I'd love to post more photos - especially of the kids' faces with the goats - but I won't (Bloomin' internet...) so you'll just have to believe me that a great time was had by all !


WENDY BANDURSKI-MILLER (nee Callard) said...

oh wow.Parasitic worms like that really creep me out. It was an amazing video! Sounds like you had as much fun as the kids. Learned something new today. Never heard of that particular species before.

La Ferme de Sourrou said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
La Ferme de Sourrou said...

Yep, really "Alien" in real life - makes me feel a bit woozy.

It's true, we have as much fun as the kids and we have to be ready for their questions, so thank goodness we've the internet where we can find out more and more about all the other creatures around us !

Melissa Kowalski said...

Thank you for your wonderful blog entry and photo and video of the horse hair worm! One of these showed up in my pet bearded dragon's water bowl this morning and I freaked out! We had put a wild cricket in there the other day, so your entry helps me out a LOT! Here is my post about it on FaceBook with a picture. It had died by the time I took the photo.


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