Sunday, February 23, 2014

Seed Farm - The Resident Critters

I was working at the seed farm the other day and was pleased to find that it's the home to assorted critters. For some reason I feel more at ease knowing that there's animal life around me. Unlike a city person, I'm comfortable with critters. Guess I'm just "country blooded".    ;) 
Day gecko. This little guy is about five inches long with a startling iridescent tail. He was heading across a mulched area, and being so small and short legged, it would have been like me walking 3-4 miles. So I gave him a helping hand and moved him to the other side. He scamped off into the greenery. 

Butterflies. Until today I didn't know the name of this butterfly. I see dozens of them around the seed farm. So very pretty. I also came upon a caterpillar of the monarch butterfly. Monarchs are common here. 
Blind snake. I don't know if the one we have here in Hawaii is the brahminy variety, but the one I saw looks very much like this photo but the snake is blacker. The blind snake is Hawaii's only allowed snake. It is seldom seen because is stays under the litter out of sight. And if exposed, people mistake it for a worm. But it travels much faster than any worm, disappearing in a second. If you manage to catch one, you become instantly aware that this is one very different sort of worm. 

While moving some buckets of soil I flipped back a large section of mulch. Behold, a blind snake! I carefully, quickly caught it. No easy feat. And keeping a hold of it was even harder! I saw its little tongue flick out several times, "tasting" or sensing the air. I had hoped to photograph it, but I was unable to keep it in my hand. Rather than risk squashing it, I allowed it to escape. The one I caught was about 6 inches long, pretty big. Quite honestly I'm pleased to know that blind snakes live on my seed farm. They supposedly eat ants and termites, big pluses as far as I'm concerned. 

(The bigger one in front is three long. They get bigger! )

Now this critter I'm not so happy about. It's an African snail that has a voracious appetite for all the plants that I like to grow. I've been doing battle with this species for months now, eliminating dozens and dozens, possibly hundreds of dozens so far. I've definitely made a dent in the population since I don't find as many now, but I will never be able to eliminate them. I turn them into chicken food, so they don't go to waste. 

Centipedes. Egads! These critters are far worse than the African snails because they sting. Wearing gloves is a must when working the seed farm. You never know when one of these things is under a rock or a pile of mulch. I can't help but jump every time I come upon one. I've discovered that my reflexes are still pretty good. It's amazing how fast I can jerk my hand back! Luckily I don't come upon them too often. 

Mice and rats. I haven't actually seen a live one, but I've seen the damage that they've done at night. And I've caught a number of them with traps. Like the snails and centipedes, I'll be forever in battle controlling their numbers. They attack my crops, so I won't be too happy having many of them around. 

Purple finches flit around in the weeds and brush while I am working. 
Saffron finches work the weeds, scavaging for seeds. When I moved here I thought that they were canaries like I used to see for sale in pet stores. 


  1. Are you in an area where feral pigs or axis deer range? Feral chickens, even feral cats, no pilikia, but I think the deer on Maui were said to reproduce so fast that they would keep increasing in a year's time, even if half of the current population was eradicated. Wow - Hawaiian venison, anyone?
    When I was growing up in the Caribbean, we ALWAYS turned our shoes over and thumped them on the floor, to get or any centipedes or scorpions that might be hiding. I'd much rather get stung by a whole nest of wasps than get one bite from a centipede!

  2. Choke feral pigs! And free for the taking. That's why I had to fence the seed farm so that the pigs wouldn't ruin it. No deer. The State claims that they have eradicated the axis deer from above Pahala, but the locals say no way. So time will tell. Chickens? Of course. They are everywhere. Even in Costco parking lot! You get so use to them that you don't even notice them anymore. But don't let them near your gardens! Your plants won't last long.

    I see scorpions occasionally at my mother's house, but so far not on my farms. But I wouldn't be surprised to find them at the seed farm. Might be there. It's hot and dry enough for them.

    Loose dogs also roam the area, but they aren't ferals. So far I haven't had any issues about them, but some of the other neighbors complain.