This afternoon I was removing a broken vat and, Robyn, a hatchery employee asked, “Do you know there is a scorpion on the vat?”
As a matter of fact, I’d noticed it when I pulled the vat out. I figured it could ride along to the dead vat cache. It was fortunate I’d seen it. I get stung by scorpions 2-3 times a year picking up nets or other objects they’ve made temporary homes of. (I hope my school day English teachers aren’t reading this; I know you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition, but sometimes it just sounds better.) Scorpions are just one of the many species of arachnids (including spiders), insects, reptiles, amphibians, and snails that have colonized our greenhouses. We have at least three species of ants, including vinegar ants, wood ants, and fire ants. American cockroaches hide during the day but are plentiful at night. There are a minimum of five species of spiders resident in the greenhouses, one of which every night builds annoying sticky webs across the walkways. Another is a diving spider, which has a nasty bite when molested. We have three species of snakes, all three are livebearers, which are into multiple generations in the greenhouses. Mediterranean geckoes and American anoles abound. Tree frogs (two species), Texas toads, and the occasional bullfrog provide an amphibian complement. Pond snails survive wherever cichlids can’t get to them, usually on the sides of vats where overflow water trickles down into the floor gutters.
Each of these species forms an unintended member of the greenhouse ecosystems. Some like the pond snails are simply annoyances. Others, like the snakes, provide a service of reducing the feral fish population in the gutters and sumps. Although, some individual snakes learn fishing is easier in a crowded sales vat. These are caught and exiled to a nearby stream. Scorpions are more sinister, but if you are careful, they are harmless. Unfortunately, I tend to be somewhat careless…
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