We've been waiting impatiently for a chance to begin working on a new garden along the southeast property line of our property. Since we don't use herbicides for such work, we have to separate the grass and soil mechanically. This can be a daunting, even impossible task if the ground is saturated, as it usually is this late in the winter. However, the dry and unseasonably warm weather we've experienced the last couple days has led to almost perfect conditions for the task.
You never know what to expect the first time you dig into a new yard, but so far we've been delighted by what we haven't found - namely old roots, huge rocks, metal or glass scraps, etc. We have, however, encountered a large number of these critters.
I don't have a positive ID yet, but my best guess is they are the larval stage of crane flies. The infestation is pretty extensive, at least in the area where we've been digging. On average we've been running into one every 2 square feet. I doubt the distribution is uniform throughout the entirety of grassy areas in our yard, but just for the sake of discussion I'll assume it is. That would mean there are approximately 8,000 of these plump little bundles of protein nestled snuggly among the grass roots. What a feast for anything that might be able to eat them.
I've never intentionally eaten an insect, although I once accidentally took a swig from a Coke can that was serving as a sugar pantry for a yellow jacket. However, for a couple minutes I seriously considered taking a bite out of this one, just to say I had. I asked my wife, Kitty, what she thought we should do with them. Her reply was almost immediate. "Put one in a pillory box," she said, "and put him out there on one of those dirt mounds, so's it can serve as an example for the rest of them.
On a side note, while we were diggingI noticed this fungus growing on some old stumpage in my neighbor's yard. According to my favorite mycologist and chicken herder, this is Auricula mesentrica, AKA tripe fungus. Apparently, and much like the crane fly larvae, it is not poisonous; but it still isn't edible for a variety of other reasons. Guess I'll have to give up dreams of getting rich by farming insect larvae and weird fungi.