Circus of the Spineless #49 – The Uncarnival Edition


Admittedly I have moved at a snail’s pace with compiling the 49th edition of Circus of the Spineless.  Life can be so demanding at times.  But as I sat this morning visiting and revisiting the various submissions, an old friend of mine made an appearance.

Her name is Rosy.  She’s a rosy wolfsnail (a.k.a. cannibal snail; Euglandina rosea).  She’s also a voracious and speedy predator (well, speedy for a snail).  Though she’s been introduced all over the world, an act of ignorance that has wiped out endemic snails in many places, Rosy has no fear of being reviled here in Texas because she’s native.  And so she and I have a history so to speak.  I let her live and grow and hunt and mate around my patio without interference so long as she gifts me with her molluscan company.

So when she meandered out of hiding today, I decided I should engage her for assistance.  You see, I have a reputation to uphold when it comes to hosting carnivals.  And this time I hit a wall.  I couldn’t come up with anything creative, anything of interest.  No theme.  That’s the worst thought that can run through your head at such times.  But with Rosy traipsing about the patio, I hoped she might inspire some creativity.

Yet as I watched her, it occurred to me that perhaps she might not be as inspirational as I’d assumed unless every carnival submission was about snails.  But what if there was something about worms or about nudibranch chemical defenses or jellyfish eyes?  What would I do then?  Could Rosy help me create some all-encompassing theme to cover those possibilities?


That’s when something landed nearby.  A friendly fly (a.k.a. government fly or large flesh fly; Sarcophaga aldrichi).  Hey, flies are cool!  I thought the new visitor might be just the inspiration I was looking for, so I ambled across the patio like a ferret chasing the next shiny object.

Even as I approached the cute little critter, I began doubting that a fly would be any more help than Rosy.  Flies don’t know much about diving beetle larvae, do they?  And I bet they’re so unfamiliar with firefly larvae and ponderous beetles that they couldn’t get them in the same sentence together even if they tried.

Ugh!  I was beginning to think there was no hope of finding inspiration, no hope of coming up with a theme for this carnival.  Frustration barely cracked the surface of my mental state.  How could I ever face my friends if I couldn’t come up with a respectable presentation?

In the middle of my seeming ad nauseam pondering, a butterfly flitted across my line of sight.  As I traced its path through the air, a wee bit of movement in the shrubs made me pause.


A green lynx spider (Peucetia viridans).  Yippee!  Spiders are good.  They know about a lot of stuff, like damselflies and other spiders and butterflies.  They do enjoy a varied diet and a lot of interaction with fellow creatures.  I just knew I’d found my theme.

Unfortunately, the spider wasn’t talking.  Nope, just sitting.  Like a rock.  Doggone ambush predators.  “Hurry up and wait” is their motto.  And that didn’t really help me.

My shoulders hunched as I sighed.  I resigned myself to the fact that I was all of out ideas, all out of themes for carnivals.  I would have to face the truth that I had no ingenious way to present leaf-cutter ants or giant water bugs.  I had no witty tapestry in which to show the pseudoscorpion against the scorpion.  Heck, I couldn’t even think of how to introduce interspecies interactions that hide in plain sight.

No, I was all out of ideas for carnival themes.  So I decided to post something on social media sites.  I figured if they can help identify a caterpillar, then by golly they could help me come up with an idea for a carnival theme.

Meanwhile I started compiling a dry and uninteresting list of links.  Just in case that was the only option I had left.

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The next Circus of the Spineless will be presented by Michael at Arthropoda.  Please contact him with your submissions no later than April 30, 2010.  He’s hosting the mid-century edition of this invertebrate celebration, so I bet he already has a good theme lined up.  Darn it!

18 thoughts on “Circus of the Spineless #49 – The Uncarnival Edition”

  1. Very nice,

    But as someone who studies landsnails on Pacific Islands I can’t look at your wolf snail without out some (totally unreasonable) revulsion welling up inside me 😉

  2. Thank you all for your kind and generous remarks! Out of five possible themes, the one that tickled me most was no theme at all.

    And David: I think your reaction to the wolf snail is not at all unreasonable. When I investigated this species last year for an invasive species article, I was shocked and dismayed by the damage they’ve done around the globe. And they’re in the top 100 invasive species list! But thankfully they’re native here, so I get to appreciate them without feeling like a schmuck.

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