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April 24, 2024 77 mins

You can be a citizen scientist in your own backyard! Broods! Birds! And mushroom butts! I'm joined by podcaster and voice actress Janet Varney.

Guest: Janet Varney 

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Speaker 1 (00:06):
Welcome to Creature Future production of iHeartRadio. I'm your host
of Many Parasites, Katie Golden. I studied psychology and evolutionary biology,
and today on the show you Yes, you can be
a citizen scientist this spring and summer. There are things
to look out for in your own backyards. I am
talking about special events that are current, that are happening

now or in a few weeks, that you can keep
alert to in your backyard. Well, if you live in
North America, in certain locations, but in general, you can
be a citizen scientist. That means observing animals and then
making reports to various research institutions, to things like eye naturalists,

and this actually really helps researchers. So we are gonna
be talking about new birds. We're gonna be talking about
incredible broods. We're going to talk about something that was
discovered by citizen scientists that sounds like it came out
of the horror game Slash TV show The Last of

Us Discover This and more as we answer the age
old question when is it a good time for your
butt to be a fun guy? Joining me today is
voice actress, host of the JV Club and a ton
of other podcasts. Janet Varney welcome.

Speaker 2 (01:28):
Thank you so much. I wasn't sure if I was
allowed to laugh when you said can you be a
fun guy and win? And so last that giggle.

Speaker 1 (01:36):
Laughter is not allowed, not permitted.

Speaker 2 (01:38):
This is a very serious.

Speaker 1 (01:41):
Very serious.

Speaker 2 (01:41):
I'm reaching our contract.

Speaker 1 (01:43):
Yeah, it's a very serious science show. No laughter, no fun,
everything's really dry. I'm so excited to have you suggested.
I really liked your topic suggestion, which is talking about
like the kinds of animals that you can find sort
of in your own city, in your own backyard. And

I really love this concept, and I love the way
in which that people like you and me can engage
in science. Because I am a science communicator. I'm not
a scientist. I don't do research, but do I take
photos of animals and then send them to a naturalist
or to researchers who I know are looking for these photos.

I don't send them randomly to people who don't know
what's going on, but yes I do. And it's really fun,
it's really exciting. Like once I snapped a photo of
alligator lizards mating, so I sent it to Greg Pauley.
He's a herpetologist at the the LA Natural History Museum,

and you know, it's it's amazing. It's it's so cool
to be able to interact with scientists and with science
and research this way and it's actually really helpful.

Speaker 2 (02:58):
Yeah, that's totally awesome. We have in our I live
right near Griffith Park in Los Angeles, and there's like
a ton of, you know, kind of public facing stuff
that you can do to get involved in. One of
the things that we do, not just in Griffith Park
but in my own neighborhood is Raptor Watch, is you know,
keeping your eyes on searchin raptors' nests and reporting back.

I'm gone a lot, so I haven't been able to
sign up because the last thing I want to do
is like not show up for something that wonderful and
important raptor d I don't want to fail rapt duty.
But but you're right, the feeling of knowing that, like
you're engaging with your environment and you're even helping us
better understand our environment and respect it and all that
kind of stuff is like the coolest.

Speaker 1 (03:42):
Well, so I have exciting news for you because this
is something that is actually in your neck of the woods.
This is a a new bird just dropped in southern California.

Speaker 2 (03:54):
They dropped a new bird.

Speaker 1 (03:55):
They they released a new bird. Kind of literally, I'll
ex plane. So there is a small bird called swin
Hoe's White Eye. It is a little little guy. It's
like smaller than a playing card. It's got this cute
little tan belly, this chartreuse head, wings and butt, and
then this beautiful, vague, glamorous white eyeliner. So it does

it is. These are cute little guys and they are
killing it with that eyeliner.

Speaker 2 (04:27):
They really are. This is this is a this is
a hot look. I love it. These I did not really,
you know, from just thinking about scale, from looking at
the photo initially, I did not realize they were that tiny?
Are they? They look sort of goldfinchy, but not is there? Yeah?
Is that that? Maybe that's what I because we have
with tons of goldfinches, so hopefully I won't mistake, uh,

this little guy for a goldfinch and then not not
appreciate how special it is.

Speaker 1 (04:52):
I mean it's that I think that greeny tinge and
that white around the eye is yea yeah, yeah, I've
tried before using white eyeliner. I did it, did not
work for me.

Speaker 2 (05:04):
Oh me, neither.

Speaker 1 (05:06):
I think it's like, I mean, you know, I think
both of our complexions are you know, easily washed out
by say like hey, it's like I'm already very pale.
If I add white eye learner to it, it doesn't work.
But if our skin was shartruths like this, yeah, I
think it would work.

Speaker 2 (05:25):
I've never wanted your true skin more or at all,
now I do, so.

Speaker 1 (05:31):

Speaker 2 (05:31):
I love this little critter.

Speaker 1 (05:32):
They're very, very pretty, and if you are a bird
watcher or backyard birder, or just general bird appreciator in
southern California, you may spot them, especially in a tree
that has flowers or berries. They often like to sip
nectar or eat berries. Even like hunting bird feeders, if

you have them, you might catch one of them.

Speaker 2 (05:55):
Sort of, that was my next question.

Speaker 1 (05:57):
Okay, And they don't have that really long beak that
the hummingbird has, so they can't get quite as deep,
but they still do have a bit of a beak,
and it's a little curb so they can get in
there a little bit. You can kind of It's interesting
because you can see these nectivorous birds like this one
that sip nectar, and you can see the beak it's

like kind of long, a little bit pointy, but many
stages away from the hummingbird. But you can see that
like maybe evolutionary path of this bird could have been
maybe similar to a hummingbird's ancestor, with a shorter beak
but still zipping nectar.

Speaker 2 (06:34):
Sure, and just because I don't want anyone to worry
that you have an expert by any means in any
way on the show, I'm happy to represent the most
rudimentary of enthusiasts. But so a bird like this, like
with a hummingbird, they don't don't they have like a
little tongue that was also involved in the beak. But

this with this little character, is he or she uh
sip with like is a tongue in play or is
it mostly beak action?

Speaker 1 (07:03):
Okay, yes, yes, that tongue is going to help them sip.
It's not not quite as long in fancy as the hummingbird,
but that narrow beak a little bit curved and then
a little bit of tongue action is going to help
them draw up nectar into their beak. Cool and so,
but they're unlike hummingbirds, they can also they can diversify,
so they can eat berries, which you know, can open

and close their mouth pretty easily and snap up a berry.
And so yeah, if you have like a lot of
like flowering lush plants in your area, you may spot
one of these. But here's the catch. They are not
really supposed to be in southern California. They are from
East and Southeast Asia, completely across the world. So, Janet,

I want you to guess how they might have gotten
to southern California.

Speaker 2 (07:55):
Well, I'm gonna say, not, Migraine, I'm gonna say brought
over to ce commercially, perhaps like seeing that there was
some incentive there. It's harder for me to imagine somehow
these ending up on like a cargo ship just randomly

and like building a nest and hanging out there. So
I guess that's my That will be my guess. That
is absolutely correct, all right.

Speaker 1 (08:24):
These little guys. The thought it's not exactly known, but
the leading theory is that they escaped from the pet
trade in Orange County, California. And so we actually have
another bird, the Chevron parakeep, that also escaped the pet trade,
and you can see it all over southern California, but

this one is much more recent, So this came around
two thousand and six, and they've been in southern California
since and six. But recently they're population seems to have
a big boom. There's been many more reported sightings. It
seems like they are finding their niche and reproducing quite

a bit. So there's always like, so they are an
invasive species, but invasive species can range in terms of
how bad they are right in terms of like how
much they impact local flora fauna, how they impact the plants,
how they impact other birds, other animals, because like they

can either directly, you know, safe overfeed on berries or
overfeed on plants and then cause damage to native plants,
or they can outcompete native birds, other or insects or something.
So there are a lot of factors in terms of
how they could have an effect, but so far we
don't actually know if they are having a negative effect

on the local native plants and animals.

Speaker 2 (10:01):
So they are like a kind of the opposite end
of the known spectrum at this time than say the
feral cat in Australia, which I was just reading about
and feeling very bad for the Bilby's.

Speaker 1 (10:13):
Yeah, the Bilby's.

Speaker 2 (10:15):
So cute in the side, But boy, oh boy, are
they cute.

Speaker 1 (10:20):
I judge an animal in terms of their cuteness mostly
by the nose. The snoop is a very important factor
in the cuteness.

Speaker 2 (10:28):
I would say, ears and snoop, and this one has
both very adorable ears, very adorable snoop.

Speaker 1 (10:33):
They did you see the whole thing of like they
do the Bilby, the Easter Bilby instead of the Easter
bunny because no, yeah, so rabbits are also invasive, also
bad for Bilby's and other animals, not because of predation,
but because they are competing with them, right and so,
and they're bad for the local vegetation and so there

they are, just as they're at war with feral cats
there at war or with feral rabbits, and so sort
of as a branding thing of like, hey, we don't
actually want rabbits here, they did the whole like Easter Bilby, get.

Speaker 2 (11:09):
A chant bil so doing that here.

Speaker 1 (11:11):
I'm a love that you can get a chocolate Easter Bilby.
I don't know how expensive the shipping would be from Australia,
but you know, probably a lot worth it. But yeah,
so so so far, these little little white eyed birds. Uh,
it is unknown what impact they have and in fact

it's unknown how big their population is. There's been more
reports of sightings. It seems like their population is on
the rise, but researchers need more data. So that is
something that people can do from their backyards right or
on your walk or whatever. If you see one of
these birds and you can look up pictures of the

swin Hoe white eye bird, and if you see one
of these you can snap a photo or make a
report of where you see it. You can go through
like a naturalist is the main one. And so yeah,
I mean there's an article called on the Brink of
Explosion identifying the source and potential spread of introduced Zosterops

white eyes in North America. Also an article in The
LAist by Jacob Margolis that has more information. But yeah, generally,
just if you're if you're a bird enthusiast and you
see one of these guys and you take a photo
or observed just like where it is where you saw it,

you can you can actually add a data point to
the research that is going on about the spread of
these little guys.

Speaker 2 (12:46):
There it is, I'm looking at it right now. Okay,
So zaster Ops that's that's it sounds like a disease spelling.
I know. It's actually his name.

Speaker 1 (12:56):
Is the full scientific name is Zosterops simplex, which which
make it makes it sound like a.

Speaker 2 (13:01):
Mouth sounds like easily. Yeah it really does. Yeah, it
really does. Zoster Ops white eyes. I have a really
bad cases astro ops white eyes.

Speaker 1 (13:08):
No. I know, it's like, oh, I don't want to
be around you. I don't want to catch your z
aster op white eyes.

Speaker 2 (13:13):
It's interesting too, because when you talk about, yeah, when
you were talking about the population boom, but also that
it if that's relative to getting more engagement from the public.
You know, my first thought was like, gosh, how do
you I guess you can look at overall the kind
of data that you're getting in from the public to
see if there's an increase in general and not just

about these birds in particular, because that seems like such
a challenge to go yeah, or people just seeing the
more for like, what are all the reasons that people
are a seeing the more and b reporting the more
and is it truly a population boomers or something else
going on that we have to isolate and identify.

Speaker 1 (13:46):
You are thinking exactly like a biologist, like a scientist,
because that is that is one of the issues with
things like this, because if you get a like if
you encourage more observations, you're gonna get more observations, and
then that might make it look like there's a big
population boom, like people are more aware of it, so

they're making observations. But there are ways to like kind
of overcome that, right because you maybe you start the
clock at the point at which it's like, well, we
made had this awareness at this point, so then we
look at the growth from that point onwards. You can
also do things like, okay, we made this made you know,
all of sort of California or something south southern California

reads this newspaper or whatever and has this this thing
and then so they're all making these observations and then
seeing if you see like a change right like in
the observations, like maybe they start more in southern California.
Do they move you know, to the north, do they
move to the east? You know? So it's you're absolutely right,

it's really important to separate out like, oh, we just
have a bunch of new observations. Well is that because
people are noticing it more sort of like how you know,
we may suddenly get a bunch of diagnoses for, say,
like a disease that we've now become more aware of,
and it's like, oh, everyone has this now. It's like, well,
because now we're aware of it. Same thing with this bird.

I'm so mean to this bird. I keep like comparing
it to a disease.

Speaker 2 (15:19):
I mean, that's just what's going to happen if you're
an invasive species. It's not these guys fault. But I
will say side note. When I tucked this into Duc
dug O and I looked up Zostrops white I you
know how it gives you like a suggestion of what
you might be looking for. It was very eager to
fill in for me. Zostrops white eyes for sale.

Speaker 1 (15:40):
Oh wow, really.

Speaker 2 (15:41):
Seems telling, right, I mean, it thinks that that must
be what I came onto a search engine for. Yeah,
so I find that very interesting.

Speaker 1 (15:49):
This is one of the problems with the exotic pet trade.
I am you know, I am a big fan of
people keeping pets, and I understand that a lot of
pets that we can keep are not going to be
native to the region. In which we live, and that's
often not a problem, but it can often be a problem,
especially for a pet that can easily escape, right, Like

there are types of like snakes, birds, you know, rodents
like these are pets that can fairly easily escape, and
especially animals that have a high fecundity can reproduce fairly quickly.
You know, that can be a big problem. So yeah,
I mean, right now, it doesn't seem like maybe they're
a problem, but it's also we don't there just hasn't

been a lot of research, so there could be problems
that this adorable little bird causes. I mean, it's not
so c it's so cute. It's not its fault, right,
Like they are adorable. They did they didn't choose to
be sold in the pet trade, and you know they're
just trying to make it work. But yeah, when we
I mean, I think it's funny because like when we
think of invasive species, we think of something menacing and

you know, like the pythons in Florida, But really it's
it can be an adorable little bunny rabbit in Australia
or an adorable bird. But yeah, so far we don't know,
because like I think the chevron parakeets are relatively benign
in southern California. Yeah, so hopefully this bird will be

benign and it'll just be another cute little bird to see.
But for instance, in Hawaii, a similar species, a bird
not exactly this one, but a similar species, has reaped
tavoc there because it out competes from the native birds,
and you know, it can cause these these native birds

to become endangered, and it's you know, can be really bad.

Speaker 2 (17:43):
Well, the smaller the ecosystem and the more like you know,
island bound or whatever, I'm sure the higher the chances
are that something kind of severe could happen. I mean,
it's interesting. I'm like wondering if these guys build their nests,
you know, in the same kind of safe areas that
like a goldfinch would, because you also wonder, like could

a predatory species adapt to I mean, listen, I'm not
excited about you know, aphex predators eating these little birds
eggs or eating these little birds. But I also wonder,
because there are so many predators in southern California, if
you know, there could be some sort of like accidental
population control that happens just as those predatory species adapt

to having the availability of these little qts that I
don't want anyone to eat, but you know, got to
keep the system going.

Speaker 1 (18:36):
I mean, you could say, uh, the general rule is
that the more similar the species behavior is to the
other native species, then yeah, the predators are just gonna
be like another thing on the menu. Great if it
has special adaptations, which I don't. I don't know of
any special adaptations that this bird has that would be
particularly effective against snakes and other predators in southern California,

So I think I think it will just be on
the menu with the other birds, but maybe not. You know.
It's another thing is that it is in an environment
that is very different from its original home in East
and Southeast Asia, where it's very very lush. This sort
of kind of semi tropical area California, Southern California is

a desert. But the reason it's able to thrive here
is because human beings don't necessarily want to live without
flowers and cool plants, and so we plant things that
are not native that have lush flowering fruits and or
lush flowers and fruits and berries, and so then these

birds will join us in the suburbs and urban areas
and basically exploit the setup that we have created, this
like fake lushness in what is a desert.

Speaker 3 (19:56):
Yeah, well, I feel like we've I mean, I'm I
feel good yet nervous about these these little Zostrup simplexes.

Speaker 2 (20:07):
I'm gonna keep my eyes peeled. I got to tell you,
I'm looking at the picture right underneath, very different kind
of a look from this other winged creature I'm trying
to have. I mean, it's beautiful and a little unsetting,
little creepy. We well, maybe a little creepy.

Speaker 1 (20:27):
We're going to take a quick break and then we
are going to talk about this mystery winged creature that
has Janet unsure how to feel.

Speaker 2 (20:38):

Speaker 1 (20:39):
All right, so we are back and Janet, you have
spotted our next little member of the mystery crew of
creatures that people should keep an eye out for. And
what are you looking at here? How would you describe
this interesting little guy?

Speaker 2 (20:55):
Okay, where do I start? First of all, I don't know,
I mean, again, a biologists, not a zoologist, not a
I mean, I just so I'm really trying to get
creative here. I'm gonna say the first thing that catches
your eye. About this, aside from this creature's eyes, which
I'll talk about in just a second, is this really

beautiful wing that is mostly transparent, but it has it's
almost like I mean, it's almost like a piece like
the top part of you know, if you look, I
think about the a quarter of a butterfly wing. If
you're sort of thinking about looking straight on at a butterfly,
you imagine the upper left or the upper right piece
of that. Imagine that that has more transparency like you

would maybe imagine from a fly's wing or something. But
it's very but it is very pretty. So there's some
white and kind of I mean, is there some kind
of gold or yellow coloration, looks like there's a little
orange in there, lots of black, kind of like a
black lining that creates these little segments of the uh,
the wing. And then I want what I want you
to do is then I want you to imagine that

it's on a tiny catfish. Because it's a body, I
can't see most of its body. I feel like I'm
only looking at its sort of head and right past
its head, but there's something sort of fish like about it.
And then I want you to go ahead and just
stick to bright large red orbs on for eyes, and
then just throw on some little crab claws for uh,

not claws, but the but the legs, crab legs, not
their claws, but some little crab legs for it's it's uh,
it's so so that it can land, get around and
scuttle around on stuff. That's my that's my best attempt
to describe this.

Speaker 1 (22:41):
How did I do you have painted a beautiful brain picture?

Speaker 2 (22:45):

Speaker 1 (22:45):
This is the way I would describe it is like
if you took a giant fly and mashed it together
with like a grasshopper, and then made it look surprised
at all.

Speaker 2 (23:00):
Yeah, definitely grasshop er. I guess I could have gone
that route. I decided to go with a more shocking fish.

Speaker 1 (23:05):
Well, it's it is. It is chunky though, it's shiny
and chunky, so it does have I can totally see
sort of that crustaceany look to it, which is yeah,
keep that in mind for later. Stick a little pin
on that. So this is a cicada.

Speaker 2 (23:23):
A oh, it's just as after all that it's a cicada.

Speaker 1 (23:26):
It is a cicada. It's you probably heard it, but
have you like seen one up close like this.

Speaker 2 (23:32):
I mean I thought I had. I mean, I feel
like I've seen cicadas, but I guess I haven't seen
or do they all have like bright red bead eyes.

Speaker 1 (23:40):
There are different species, but I.

Speaker 2 (23:43):
Think the ones in Okay. I mean, I've had one
land on me, much to my chagrin, in Arizona, and
for sure in Arizona. You know, the thing you're going
to see more than the cicadas is the little crispy
shells that they leave when they shed their skin, which
are very fun too petchy off of of yeah, to
kind of crunch into a dust after you pick them

up off of off of a nice piece of bark.
But I did not. I mean, I guess if you
made me guess, I should have come to Cicada, especially
when you gave me the grasshopper hint.

Speaker 1 (24:15):
Well, I think, out of context, it's surprising to see cicadas.
I always like, I hear their sound and I'm like,
I don't know, I'm thinking of some kind of like
grasshopper like thing or something, and.

Speaker 2 (24:27):
They have a just an evil tiny robot. Yeah, a
little old tiny robots a metallic sound.

Speaker 1 (24:33):
It does make a very metallic sound shocking. But the
reason I bring up cicadas is that if you live
in North America, in the Midwest and southeast United States,
you are in for a treat that rivals the total
eclipse that just happened, because there is going to be

a double brewed emergence this spring, so it is gonna
be a very special event. So cicadas do emerge every year,
right like we have this yearly emergence of cicadas. Their

life cycle is essentially, the females will lay eggs into trees.
They cut a little slice into the tree, lay their
eggs there. The eggs hatch into nymphs, little tiny babies.
They drop down to the ground, burrow under the ground.
They can go as far as around two feet under
the ground. And then they stay there for at least
a year, and then all at once they all come out.

The males make this incredibly loud buzzing sound to attract
the females. There's a mad dash to get the mating done,
to lay the eggs, and then they all die in
a few weeks. So they but this is the thing
is life, I know, amazing, right Like, So you spend
most of your time as a juvenile, just hanging out underground,

sipping on the sap from tree roots. Uh, and then
you have like three to six weeks of total madness
of just trying to mate as fast as you can,
and then you drop dead. Wow.

Speaker 2 (26:12):
Yeah, I mean listen, you get you get to some underground,
you get some above ground by being in the trees,
and you get to drive people crazy with how incredibly
loud you are. I mean, this is uh, this is
an insect that was linked as a possible cause of
I hate to use the term Vana syndrome because I
think that I know that that's like very hurtful to

the Cuban people who are like, please don't put the
name of our city into this thing that you think
is like a sonic weapon. But you know, it's when
I've listened to a great podcast about it, actually, which
I wish I could remember the name of. It's really
good about the that phenomena, and when they first played

like that, you know, the whole sort of like misunderstanding
which was kind of debunked as like no, no, no,
this isn't actually what this was, and it's not even
what the people who had this thought it was. It's
just sort of an Uh, it's just an unfortunate like,
it's just an unfortunate situation where there happened to be
a bunch of really loud cicadas. Yeah that they were like,

could this have anything to do with why we're having
these symptoms? And it was like, no, it doesn't, and
the symptoms still happened. But but the first time I
heard I was like, well that's cicadas. Yeah, like that
sound that you know, feels like and it's it's an
assault to your ears, cicada.

Speaker 1 (27:33):
It's a complete sensory experience.

Speaker 2 (27:37):
Bless them.

Speaker 1 (27:38):
Well, how do we know that the cicadas aren't in
league with the Cuban government to undermine I have nothing?

Speaker 2 (27:47):
So a double brood? So double brood? How did that happen?
How was there a double set coming?

Speaker 1 (27:53):
So this is really this is very interesting. So there
are some species that they go through a yearly life cycle.
There are others and those are called annual cicadia, sick
annual cicadas. There are other cicadas who are periodical cicadas,
and they have a life cycle that can range from
two years to seventeen years. And so that means that

when the nymphs pop out of the trees burrow underground.
They can spend up to seventeen years of their life
just waiting underground, sipping on tree root juices, and then
at the seventeen year mark, all of them all at
once emerge and do the crazy mating just orgy fest

for a few weeks. And the double brood is because
there is a brood, a thirteen year cyclical sorry, a
thirteen year periodical cicada brood, and a seventeen year periodical
cicada brood that have a lined so they are emerging
at the same time. And this is something that hasn't

happened for two hundred years. So yeah, because it think
the just the synchronicity of it, the last time this
happened was two hundred years ago. The next time this happened,
it's gonna be another like two hundred years, is gonna
be in like twenty twenty forty five, so it is.

It is really incredible. And so there are going to
be anywhere from like billions to potentially like a trillion
cicadas just like which seems made up? That does that
seems like too many that are going to emerge. And
so if you are near the cicada geddon, which is

happening in you know, the nor in the Midwest and
southeast United States, you will start to notice holes popping
out of the ground. And then you're gonna notice just
a deafening cock cacophony of cicadas making an incredible sound.
It is not the end times, uh, you are not.

You're not about to be raptured. These are cicadas and
they will made over the course of a few weeks.
Then they'll die. And yeah, you're gonna find all those
like crunchy little shells everywhere. It's uh, they look intimidating
sometimes because they're they're pretty big. They're you know, like
bigger than my thumb a little bit. But they are

totally harmless. They don't want to they don't want to
mess with you. They don't want to bite you. They're
not like venomous.

Speaker 2 (30:36):
They don't want to have sex with you. Again, they
do not want to have sex with you.

Speaker 1 (30:42):
Not with you, with uh, with anything vaguely cicada shaped yet.

Speaker 2 (30:49):

Speaker 1 (30:51):
So you can celebrate cicada get in by just observing
all the cicadas, by enjoying the train quality of like
a billion cicadas all screaming.

Speaker 2 (31:04):
I wonder if there's going to be more ear plug
purchases than in past years. Really in those areas.

Speaker 1 (31:11):
I'd be interesting to track. My husband is an economist.
I'm going to suggest that to him as a research topic.
Like ear plugs and cicadas, is there a connection?

Speaker 2 (31:20):
It just doesn't seem possible, Like, and it's the same
with crickets. I guess, you know, you just sort of
we all take for grant. I mean I think I
did as a kid. I feel like I was a
fairly curious kid. But you also when you're younger, there
are some things that you just kind of take it
face value. And I guess I just I hadn't. I
didn't spend as much time as maybe I should have

thinking about the immense noise that comes from this tiny thing.

Speaker 1 (31:45):
Well it's so interesting because well, crickets are you know,
they can project for sure, but cicadas are particularly loud.
Cicadas are a little bit different, uh from stridulators like crickets,
So they do produce sound mechanically, not through like a voice,

but they actually have these Instead of just rubbing one
body part against another, they have these what are called timbles.
They are these like structures, these kind of membraneous structures,
you know, like like what's it.

Speaker 2 (32:25):
Called like symbol like symbols, Like symbols rhymes with timbles.

Speaker 1 (32:28):
It does rhyme with timbles. But you know, like the
monkey that slaps the symbols together. These are timbles. So
they are connected to muscles. They vibrate them really rapidly. Vibration, yeah,
vibration that is very very rapid. And they also have
sort of a resonance chamber. Uh and so like basically

you know how like you can like wiggle a metal
sheet and make a thunder sound. It's like that, but
we have a bunch of these little membranes. H if
you actually like, if you like like this. This is
what's interesting about cicadas is they kind of have this
like mechanical look. If you sort of look at this
timble structure, it looks sort of like a bunch of
layers of metal together. But these are actually just like

these sort of thin membranes. They vibrate and then their
bodies are designed as a resonance chamber. And it's just
it's such a rapid force that they can actually produce
from this this thing that's relatively small, they can produce
a sound that's nearly as loud as like a chainsaw.

Speaker 2 (33:29):
I mean that is nuts and so okay. So the
little critters that are coming out of the ground that
they're male and female, that both in the broods that
are coming out, and the females you are, they're just
going somewhere too, I mean, are they just kind of
like in the trees also they are, and they're just
sort of like, yeah, they're looking whoever's yeah, depends on

the species.

Speaker 1 (33:51):
Some of them like they're both mobile and they're looking
for each other, and the males making this sound and
the female's going for it. But in so species, it's
like the males stay put and then the females have
to come to them because the males are lazy, and
you know, it's like, well, you have to come over here.

Speaker 2 (34:09):
They're like, baby, I'm exhausted, I'm a listen, I'm in
a band. If you want to hang out with me,
you got to come to my band's shows. I'm too busy.
I'm either rehearsing my band, or I'm performing with my band,
or I'm traveling with my band. Baby, you want to
be with me, come to where the band is. You
know what I'm talking about.

Speaker 1 (34:24):
Girl, exactly. We've all been through this. We've all had
a cicada in our life. But one interesting thing about
these is that you would think you'd wonder, like, well,
why why do they need seventeen or thirteen years underground?
That seems excessive, Like they don't need a lot of
time to develop.

Speaker 2 (34:43):
A lot of about being a brooding teenager. You never
come out of your room. You're two, You dug yourself
two feet underground.

Speaker 1 (34:51):
Yeah, come on, they are a whold They are a
whole teenager by the time they emerge. Yeah, and so
no wonders.

Speaker 2 (34:58):
They're so horny.

Speaker 1 (35:01):
Oh man, I just it's so good. They don't have internet,
these cicadas, I know, can you imagine.

Speaker 2 (35:08):
Well, some trees talk to trees, tree roots talk to
each other. I don't know they can kind they could
they could be Yeah, a little internet there.

Speaker 1 (35:16):
But yeah, no, I mean the reason for the law,
I mean, it's still not exactly known why they do this,
but one the leading theory is that it is a
way to kind of like create an unpredictability about like
when they emerged. The reason that they all emerge at
once is fairly straightforward safety in numbers. If you are

part of a huge brood, then it is just statistically
less likely you get eaten, even though a lot of
you are going to get eaten. But to emerge at
such a like weird like periodical thing of like every
thirteen years, every seventeen years. There are other broods that
do it at different intervals. That is potentially to make

difficult for predators, parasites and other and like pathogens the
three piece from adapting to you essentially like if they
adapt to your life cycle, like you emerge every year,
maybe a pathogen or a predator or a parasite will
learn like, hey, they come out every year, and so
I adapt in order to exploit this yearly emergence. But

if you're only coming out every thirteen years or seventeen years,
this is an irregularity and it's a long period of time.
So you may be going beyond the life cycle of
a lot of predators, of a lot of things that
would exploit you, and so it is harder for them
to specifically adapt strategies against you to either exploit you

as a parasite or as a predator. That doesn't mean
that predators don't eat these. They do. They eat them
a lot of them. But the point is like having
like a special adaptation that makes you just a master
at a cicada munch or cicada parasitizing, or even like
a virus or a pathogen that could adapt to it,

like with this like weird interval, like it actually makes
them kind of a hard target to adapt to, except
for when they're underground, and there are actually things like
fungal infections and nematods and things underground that can parasitize
them while they are in that period, which is really interesting.

Speaker 2 (37:26):
But you know, is that is that kind of the
only thing that can happen to you when you're down there,
or can like some sort of burrowing critter find you,
just stumble across you and go, hey, I'm a off hand.
I can't think of a single one hole. I don't
think they.

Speaker 1 (37:43):
Oh absolutely yeah no, if they're they can be definitely
preyed upon underground by burrowing animals. It's just that it
is not as exploited a region as say the surface, right,
Like burrowing animals they have to put in work to
do their tunnels and so you know the excavation, uh
is you can only excavate so much of the ground,

and so yeah, they will still be preyed upon, they
will still have issues underground, but it is safer than
the surface. And is speaking of eating these guys, uh,
they are edible for people. We can eat them and
if you I mean, I have never had a cicada,
but I have heard that they actually taste fairly good,

similar to like say seafood, kind of like the kind
of look like crustaceane.

Speaker 2 (38:33):

Speaker 1 (38:34):
I don't know if that's true, but because I have
never tried it. But if you live in one of
these areas where there's going to be this mass emergence,
check out like your local rest if you're if you're adventurous,
if this sounds interesting to you, Sometimes like local restaurants
will start offering cickeda meals, so like essentially collect they

collect the cicadas, they prepare them, cook them, and you
can eat them.

Speaker 2 (38:59):
Good source of protein like a cricket, like yeah, absolute
protein powder and stuff.

Speaker 1 (39:03):
Yeah. Yeah, their meat, they're bug meat.

Speaker 2 (39:06):
I think you'd have to char that baby pretty black
for me to I need to get like what I
taste is the taste of of just like burnt wood
needs to be sure, I need a grasshopper.

Speaker 1 (39:18):
But Billy, what'd you think? You know what?

Speaker 2 (39:22):
I'm sure? I think it was like a chocolate cover grasshopper.
So it was one of those things where you're like, oh,
you've done everything you can to disguise and and and
sort of you know, nullify whatever bug eating experience you're
supposed to have, Like I definitely haven't had, like, hey,
here's a you know, yeah, here's a baked here's a
baked grasshopper.

Speaker 1 (39:40):
Nothing a grasshopper, here's a here's a a tart with
grasshoppers all lined up like pecans.

Speaker 2 (39:49):
Yeah, I exactly.

Speaker 1 (39:51):
I I'm not much of an insectivore myself. I want
to be, like, I think it would be cool, and
I wish I did not have the sort of uh
like revulsion towards eating insects that I have, like because
it's just like, well, now there's this whole cuisine that
I can't have because I have this cultural notion that bugs.

Bugs is gross. I'm not supposed to eat them. I've
eaten ants the same, and I think I had a
cricket once. But yeah, uh, it's just it's hard for
me to get past that, and I wish I could,
because hey, you know what, like food's food, and I
don't want to be yeah, I don't want to be
so picky, but yeah, let me.

Speaker 2 (40:32):
Ask you this cool question, and please tell me if
we're getting off topic, because you know, I could tasks
six hours about almost any subject. But so with something
like that, how much of that revulsion. You don't have
to know the answer to this, but I'm interested if
you have any speculation on it. How much of something
like that is, like, because you know, for example, when
you when you find that you're afraid of a certain

type of creature, and and you know, we you can
have a conversation about that. Most people sort of understand like, well,
you know, to have a sort of genetic predisposition towards
fearing spiders, or towards fearing rats, or towards fearing snakes.
Like there's reasons for those predispositions to exist, and some
of them may be happening at the genetic level, like
at the cellular level. I wonder I'm wondering with you know,

the sort of revulsion around insects, like had you and
I been raised in a similar environment except for our parents,
or our small community or our city or our state
or whatever embraced eating insects more. Do you think that,
you know, we would just completely be fine with it.
Do you think that there would be like some level

of a version that we couldn't put our finger on? Like,
what are your thoughts on that?

Speaker 1 (41:38):
I've actually thought about this a lot? This is a
great question, Okay. I mean there are absolutely certain versions
we have that may be innate in terms of like
like things that are like spider shaped, snake shaped. We
have sort of this like innate kind of like the reflex,
which can be overridden by say learning about them or
culturally overridden people because I mean people keep snakes as pets,

people keep tarantulas as pets. These kinds of fears can
be overwritten by new information eating insects. It's hard to
say whether we have an innate revulsion to insects in
terms of a food source. My suspicion is that maybe
for some insects we might things that are pests, right that, like,

are things that we may see as like unsanitary or
pests like parasites. Yeah, perhaps there is grubs exactly exactly
and so we we do have an evolutionary history of
being insectivorous. And you know, even even with parasites, right,

like you pick mites and ticks and stuff and fleas
off of your friend and you eat it. And so
in terms of what we do know is there are
a lot of human cultures that exist today where insect
eating is not taboo, it is not considered gross, and
people enjoy eating insects, and so it is clearly something

that answer to your question of like, if we had
been raised different would we find would we find insects
gross to eat?

Speaker 3 (43:19):

Speaker 1 (43:19):
I don't think so. I think if we had been
raised that we eat cicadas, you know, every year in
a big cicada eating festival, I think we would not
find that gross.

Speaker 2 (43:28):
Just I agree with you. It's kind of a bummer
if you look a bumer opportunity exactly.

Speaker 1 (43:32):
This is how I feel. It's like I want to
if I have children, I want to figure out a
way to not make them feel grossed out by the
concept of eating bugs, you know, just in case, like
you know, the meat industry collapses in the future, and
you know what, like give them more options. But no,
but I mean it's also like bugs are kind of pretty,

and some of them sort of look like candy. I
don't know, Like, if I look at a bug, I'm like,
that might be kind of fun to eat, But then
when I think about eating it with all the little
legs and the segments that, I'm like, no, that seems bad.
I don't want to do that. But then part of
me is like, ah, but I'm curious. Yeah, it's hard
to override the the revulsion, but I want to. But yeah,

I think so there's two options. I think one is
that we could have an innate aversion to it, but
one that is overridden by culture, or we do not
have an innate aversion to it. And so depending on
your culture, you're even you're either taught in aversion to
insects or you are not taught it, And I suspect
it's the latter. I don't think we're born with an

aversion to eating insects, unless maybe there's a very specific
kind of like maybe we're we have an aversion to spiders.
That would make sense, Yeah, but eating any insect I
don't know, because like something like what is really the
difference between say, like a shrimp and a cricket in
terms of like their looks, you know, when I was

This is a fun story, but like when I was
a and I think I've told it on the show
probably like a million times, so sorry for repeating myself.
But when I was a toddler, I would eat snails
like a baby, like baby toddler, like crawling around kind
of in the yard. I would pick up snails and
eat them. And somehow I as an adult, like I
am grossed out by snails. But then there's a lot

of like right now I'm living in Northern Italy, like
escargoes on the menu all the time, and a lot
of people like it, and it's like I can't eat
it now because I'm grossed out. But when I was
a baby, I would eat raw snails out of the garden.
So yeah, so I feel like I really do think
the the general aversion to all insects, I don't think

that that's innate. I think we learned that maybe there's
specific insects that may be, you know, like spiders that
we have.

Speaker 2 (45:59):
So it just and I know you need to move on,
but just to put a button on this and to
bring it back around to to like your own backyard
like one's own backyard. One of the things that's been
kind of running in the background has we've been talking
about this for me is like, when I think about
the insects I see in my own yard, if I
had to eat one of them, I'm going to take
snails off the menu, because I feel like I do

have tons of snails and I'm gonna take I'm gonna
take like grasshoppers, snails, and crickets off the menu because
I feel like I've already been given permission to eat those, right.
I have an idea. I know what I categorically would
one hundred percent avoid, and I include spiders and I
and I am afraid of spiders, but I've really come
a long way. I feel much more friendly with them now. Now.

When I am gardening and I pull up a rock
and there's a giant wolf spider that, you know, hunkers
and sort of proud, just trying not to be seen,
I'm like, hey, buddy, I'm not gonna hurt you. Like
that's okay, I'm sorry, I interrupted. Whereas like when I
was younger, I would have squealed and run away and
not been in the garden. And when I say younger,
I mean like twenty I mean like twenty five. I
don't mean like I've gotten much better about that. I've

gotten much better about ore weavers. Now I can stand
right next to them as they're building a web and
look at how crazy and scary they look, and really say, wow,
you're working so hard on that. And the chances are
fair that this is gonna get broken before you're even done,
because someone's gonna walk into it or bird's gonna fly. So,
but I definitely don't want to eat them. I do
not want to eat spiders. I've decided that I would

like some roly pulleys. They can go ahead and roll
up into a perfect circle, perfect sphere will fry them
up and then they'll just be like these nice little
crunchy bits. Yeah, and that feels that feels doable to me.
Like that feels even more doable to me in some
cases than like, you know, even just thinking about like
crickets or snails, like somehow just because it becomes an
like a shape instead of a creature. Yes, if you

want to roll yourself up, we could turn them into dippin' dots, like,
there are options. We have a cereal we have options
for those tiny little roly pulleys, which are also very cute,
and I don't mind crawling on me. So I feel
kind of guilty saying that. But I'm and what I
know I won't Another thing I know I won't eat
is I forget what their actual name. They're like Latin
name or their scientific name is, but what we call
mustache bugs. I don't need to eat a bug that

it has all of those legs, like you were saying,
I mean, those are like it's like eating a little brush.
It's like eating I mean, I guess. But when I
when I was growing up, I thought of a millipede
and a centipede as being these sort.

Speaker 1 (48:20):
Of how centipede is how I know them.

Speaker 2 (48:24):
Okay, So I mean those things they are like. I mean,
mustache bug makes a lot of sense because they have
this bushy look, like a walking mustache. And the idea
of having to get those little hairy legs down is
just on a puke.

Speaker 1 (48:38):
The mouthfeel on. That can't be good. The interesting thing
about the roly pully is those are terrestrial isopods. They
are actually, that's right.

Speaker 2 (48:47):
They are related to the like fossils.

Speaker 1 (48:50):
Yes, they are related to marine isopods. So they are
kind of like surf and turf. I guess, all in one,
all in one.

Speaker 2 (48:57):
Yeah, I feel guilty. I'm sorry, Little roly Poly. Sorry.

Speaker 1 (49:00):
Potato bugs are always fine, It's fine. The great thing
about the pill bugs is you can just take them
with a glass of water. If you don't like the
mouthfeel of the crunching, you know, that's me. I mean,
I feel like ants is kind of cheating. I've eaten ants.
It's they just taste like eating a little graine of pepper.

Speaker 2 (49:20):
Yeah, they're very spicy.

Speaker 1 (49:21):
They're very spicy. But yeah, I don't like grubs. Grubs
isn't something I want to eat. That's the scene in
the Lion King has always grossed me out. My gosh,
you know it's hard, Like, man, I don't like anything
that has like a pop to it, like a like

a gusher sort of thing. So spiders. Spider's definitely not
I don't you know, like anything where you bite down
on it and there's like a pop and like a no,
I don't want.

Speaker 2 (49:55):
To you got me? Yeah, No, you're so right.

Speaker 1 (49:58):
Yes, that's not a situation I want. So it's like, oh, yeah,
so what what isn't like that. I don't know. I'm
trying to think, oh man, because I was gonna say butterfly,
but I feel like their bodies. No, that wouldn't be good.
That would not be good. No, I mean I honestly, like, what.

Speaker 2 (50:18):
About like a little beetle, Oh, poor beetle.

Speaker 1 (50:20):
Little beetle, like if it's really small though, Yeah, I
feel like crunchy bugs are better than squishy Yeah, but
bugs that pop in your mouth, like that's not like
I'm even dressed out like I used to have. I
don't like killing spiders once in a while. It's like
a kind of a necessity situation, especially like if it's

a venomous species. It's like I'm sorry, you know, I
gotta I.

Speaker 2 (50:46):
Know, I'm not. I'm okay killing and I feel I
feel bad about.

Speaker 1 (50:50):
It, like I don't want to, but I will do it.
And then but the popping sound that they make, like
when I hate it, I feel it's like I feel
guilty and it's disgusting.

Speaker 2 (51:00):
Put in your cicada at earplugs.

Speaker 1 (51:03):
Just like please scream in my ears.

Speaker 2 (51:04):
And wear a boot with a big, like a really
chunky feel, so that you not your foot is experiencing.

Speaker 1 (51:11):
No, I hate it. It's like it's like popping, is
is it? But it's it's but it's a spider. It's
so right. No, it's so with any spider that I
do not have to like that is not venomous, I
like leave alone, or like like transfer outside or something.
Jumping spiders are adorable and I love them, and they
can stay in the house because they are really cute.

Speaker 2 (51:33):
I've never I don't know what jumping spider you're talking about,
but unfortunately, the only most recent jumping spider I had
discussed with anyone is like the Huntsman spider in Australia,
which sounds like the stuff of nightmares. Oh no, so
so jumping really big, Yeah, but you're talking about small.

Speaker 1 (51:48):
This is yeah, this is a These are it's not
just these are not just spiders that jump. There's a
whole range of species of these, these spiders called jumping spiders,
and they're tiny and they're cute. And I'm going to
find a picture for you actually, because this is very important.

Speaker 2 (52:02):
I mean, does it look like just so your average
little house spider that's kind of just really small and
doing it doing its own thing.

Speaker 1 (52:09):
Really like they are. They're like to me, they are
actively cute. Let me see if I can find like
a good representation of why I find them cute.

Speaker 2 (52:21):
I mean, they are not a good sign that you're
having to come through multiple photos.

Speaker 1 (52:27):
I'm just saying, put one of your best eight feet forward.
It's uh, here we go. This one's this is a
good one because he's waving.

Speaker 2 (52:38):
Oh yeah, give me a wave. I'll take the wave.

Speaker 1 (52:40):
Here we go.

Speaker 2 (52:41):
You know, I'm sorry, the scope of my whole day
feels like it changed.

Speaker 1 (52:45):
But think about that pop it's a terrible thing.

Speaker 2 (52:48):
Oh yeah, yeah, well that looks like a tarantula kind
of kind But they're teen, But those are I don't
know if I've seen. I mean, I guess if I
haven't seen, I'm gonna have to look. I mean, I show.

Speaker 1 (53:00):
You just a photo of what it looks like on
something like so you can see, yeah, what it looks
like without the close because this is like close up photography.
And then this is just what it looks like on
someone's hand.

Speaker 2 (53:13):
All right, let's have a look at.

Speaker 1 (53:14):
This or fingers.

Speaker 2 (53:15):
Oh yeah, I mean I'm sure I've seen those little guys. Yeah,
those little guys. Yeah, I don't have a problem with
those at all. Well, I see those one except yeah,
for sure. I mean, can they also like dangle down
on via a web or do they just jump? Like
do they do you see them floating kind of like
on your range top. I'll look and be like, what
are you doing?

Speaker 1 (53:35):
Most of you doing this aren't really so much gonna
do that, Like most of them just kind of walk around.
They do produce webs to some extent. Some of them
are a little bigger. I actually still find the bigger
ones cute, like.

Speaker 2 (53:48):
Are they eating gnats and stuff?

Speaker 1 (53:50):

Speaker 2 (53:50):
Are they eating?

Speaker 1 (53:51):
Like, yeah, they kind of like cut down there.

Speaker 2 (53:55):
Quite large. You look like a little fairy kind of
you look like a hairy Harry fairy fairy.

Speaker 1 (54:03):
But he's got like a little mustache, which is actually
just it's petipalps, the little things on its face.

Speaker 2 (54:09):
Extremely cute. Yeah, I mean again, you're kind of getting
into like something that yeah, sort of cartoonish looking exactly.
I like tarantula's and wolf spiders because I like their
little their fur, because fur it feels less threatening to
me than the hard what's that called precipice, crep escape?
What is it?

Speaker 1 (54:28):
I look carapace is I think carapace.

Speaker 2 (54:32):
But I love I don't need to say a hard yeah,
I love that.

Speaker 1 (54:37):
Those are great words. Even if I can just.

Speaker 2 (54:39):
Get some of the syllables or any of the letters.
They don't even have to be an order. Yeah, I
don't need that shiny. I mean, boy, if ever there
was a that a creature that looked venomous, it's a
black widow. I mean, all power to them again, I
will kill them. But it's very impressive. How macabre and

bo do they?

Speaker 1 (55:00):
They're very much they they they as as the kids say,
they read the assignment, they read the assignment. But the
funny thing about the funny thing now I'm doing the tangent.
But the funny thing about the hairs. Like liking the
fuzzy spiders, which I agree with, I think they're cute.
A lot of these fuzzy spiders have what are called

irridicating hairs. They are actually irritating hairs that are meant
to like kind of come out like a lot of tarantulas,
Like if you pet them, you can actually kind of
get a rash. Because they are meant to be protective parents.
It's like yeah, where it's like, don't pet me. Like,
but some of them you can actually pet because they're
not they're not gonna hurt you. But a lot of
tarantulas you pet them and then their hairs like kind

of come off, and then now you've got a rash
on your whoops.

Speaker 2 (55:44):
But thank you. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (55:45):
Before before we take a break and move on to
the next section, UH, if you want to join sort
of these cicada tracker community, you can go to cicadasafari
dot org uh and kind of submit the photos or
observations you make for cicada Gadden twenty twenty four. I

don't know if they're calling it cicada gaeddin. I'm trying
to make that happen. I think they even have like
an iPhone app. So yeah, cicadasafari dot org and you
can you too, can join in on the cicada adventure.
So we are going to take a quick break and

when we come back, we're gonna have one more short
story about citizen sciences discovering something really weird. All right, right,
so we are back. Citizen science does not just occur
in the US. It is an international phenomenon. And so

in UH, in India, in the Western Ghats, there was
a group of herpetology frog enthusiasts just kind of going
around making observations, taking photos, and they found a frog
with a mushroom growing out of it's But.

Speaker 2 (57:11):
Wow, I've I don't know what I would have needed
to do to get ready for this. I know I
didn't do it, and I'm not ready for it. And
I'm looking at a picture and I think I know
which thing was a reference to the last of us.

Speaker 1 (57:24):
It's this. It's definitely this. Yeah, So, to be a
little more honest, it's coming out of its rear flank.
I don't know if you can call out it's but
I'm gonna I'm gonna say it. But and it's like
a literal tiny I'm not talking about a fungal infection
like oh, you know athletes. But it's a literal mushroom,

little mushroom like a little a white stem and a
white little cap. It's a tiny mushroom growing out of
this poor, cute, little innocent frog.

Speaker 2 (57:56):

Speaker 1 (57:57):
Yeah, so, uh, this frog is a h it is
called I forgot its name. I wrote it down. The
frog is a rouse golden black rows golden backed frog.
Actually the full name is like rouse intermediate golden backed frog,
which is a mouthful I'm just gonna call it a

little cutie. Uh. So it's it is alive, and so
it's not like a situation where it's dead and then
the mushroom's growing out of its dead body. That wouldn't
be as interesting. No, it's alive and it has this tiny,
perfect little mushroom growing out of its rump. These hobbyists,

these these herpetology hobbyists like snapped a picture. They didn't
capture the frog because they were being respectful. They didn't
want to like, you know, mess with the environment at all.
They but they they took a couple of pictures and
they published their picture in the Journal of Reptiles and
Amphibians and then frog that picture. Even more nature enthusiasts,

like my cologists and like mushroom hobbyists like looked at
this mushroom like trying to identify will what is the mushroom?
You know, what the frog is? What's the mushroom? The
most likely candidate that they came up with is the
bonnet mushroom, which is a Mycena fungus that typically lives
on rotting wood and not It is not known to

like be a parasite of frogs. So this is really interesting.

Speaker 2 (59:30):
Wow, so what do we what do we do with this?

Speaker 1 (59:34):
Right? Like, is this like the start of sort of
a last of Us frog apocalypse? I mean probably not right,
Like it could just be a fluke somehow. There's this
thing where sometimes a it's actually in I don't know
if you'd call it my isis when it comes to fungus,
But when it comes to say, like like larvae that

accidentally become parasites, it's called my assis where it's like,
say you get like a fly larvae in your in
your gut, and it's like living there. It's not an
obligate parasite. It doesn't need to be a parasite. But
then it has found its way inside a yeah, and
it's making the best out of a bad situation. That
is what I would guess is going on with this

this mushroom, like a spore somehow got under this frog's
skin or inside of this frog. Yeah, and then it
managed to sprout its way out of the frog. But yeah,
it's still it's like extreme. Like. The other option could
be that there is a type of fungal infection. There's
that fungus it is actually the fungus that the Last

of Us game and TV show is based on. It's
called ophio cordyceps and that does actually yeah, that does
actually infect insects like ants, grasshopper, spiders and then grows
out of like it kills them, but then it like
grows sprouts out of their body.

Speaker 2 (01:00:59):
One of the all time great reality based yes, like
versions of Armageddon.

Speaker 1 (01:01:06):
Yeah, no, I I I appre I very much appreciate
the the sort of I mean so I did a
whole You can probably look back in the show's history.
We did an episode on the Last of Us like
mostly I really love it. There was one like one
line where it was like they in the show saying like, oh,
there's no treatment for fungus, Like we've got antibiotics, but

we don't have anything.

Speaker 2 (01:01:28):
Wait what that's not true. It's not true at all.
We have anti fungals in any way. Have you heard
of athletes heard, Yes, we have. Have you heard of yea?

Speaker 1 (01:01:37):
And even for like brain like fungus, like there are
there are fungi you know that can infect the brain.
We have treatments for that too, and it's very books.
Well yeah, but you know you have to have some
kind of dramatic thing going on, I guess. Anyways, so
this poor frog, it's got a little mushroom growing on us.

But actually we don't know.

Speaker 2 (01:02:00):
Cute frog, it's a cute mushroom. They're both cute.

Speaker 1 (01:02:03):
Maybe they're working together. We don't know. If this frog
is upset with this mushroom. Maybe it doesn't even notice it.
Maybe they're friends. Who knows. Because, like, frogs can be
infected with fungus, but again, similar to athlete's foot, it's
not like a whole mushroom, like a whole ass mushroom
growing out of the ass of the frog. That's not

like generally how fungal infections work in frogs. It's like
a fungal infection and a human, you know, you might
see like a film or something on their skin, but
it's not going to be like, hey, I'm a mushroom.
I'm growing out of this frog. So if you find
if you live in Indian and you live in the

western guts, and you find a frog with a mushroom
growing out of its butt, do take a photo. I mean,
if you live anywhere and you find a mushroom growing.

Speaker 2 (01:02:54):
Out of a yeah, frog, fair, fair enough.

Speaker 1 (01:02:56):
Or anywhere out of the frog take a photo, you know,
because that might be interesting. Uh, who knows. Maybe this
is a one time deal. Maybe it's a new trend,
maybe it's a new sort of frog fashion. We'll only
know if we all join together to try to find
more mushroom frogs.

Speaker 2 (01:03:17):
I mean, it's very interesting. It's interesting in the sense that,
of course, like I mean, you were of course you're
talking about the idea of you know, something being more
incidentally parasitic than being you know, intentionally. So but when
I see something like this, like what does jump into
my mind is the sort of more I mean, I
guess it's everything that's that spreads seeds through. But like

thinking about you know, my dog picking up you know,
briers or picking up you know, little thistles and stuff
like that, it is intentionally going into his hair so
that it can spread to a location that it couldn't
get to otherwise. So yeah, it's funny because like obviously
this isn't necessarily that, but it does feel like you could,
in that way imagine somehow the mushroom.

Speaker 1 (01:03:59):
Is like I'd like to try, you know what I mean,
I just think, yeah, dispersal is very important for a
lot of sort of immobile organisms, and so in a way,
like it's that's what Opeo Cordyceps is doing with the insects.
So one could imagine that this could adapt in order
to use the frogs and in a lot of cases

like an adaptation maybe sort of, you know, it is
like a random thing that can happen, either a random
mutation or something that happens, right like maybe originally with
the opiod Cordyceps, like a curious ant eats it, you know,
they eat these spores and then this starts to happen,
and then the the fungus adapts more and more in

order to exploit this situation. So you know, like even
if this is an accident, right, it could the course
of evolution could make it less and less of an accident.
Where this special is like, actually, I've got a pretty
sweet deal here growing out of this frog. I got
I got free transportation.

Speaker 2 (01:05:00):
Yeah, are you kidding me? Absolutely? And as far as
that poor little aunt, listen, we like curiosity. Don't feel
like you can't be curious, but maybe just don't eat
something in the wild. You can be curious and learn
you don't have to learn by eating a fungus you're
not sure about spores.

Speaker 1 (01:05:18):
And you just say no. The their program for ants
did not work. H Nancy reag Ant was not to
not to write on this issue. So wo before we go,
we do got to play a little game. It is
called the guess who squawk and Mystery animal sound game.

Every week I play a mystery animal sound and you
the listener, and you the guests, try to guess who
is making that sound. The hint last week was this,
this bearded fellow is the bell of the ball.

Speaker 2 (01:06:03):

Speaker 1 (01:06:06):
All right? So Janet, whoa?

Speaker 2 (01:06:09):
What happened at the end?

Speaker 1 (01:06:10):
It's an same animal, new sound, same animal.

Speaker 2 (01:06:15):
That was It dropped a sick beat at the end. Yeah, okay,
this bearded beauty is the bearded beauty.

Speaker 1 (01:06:24):
This bearded beard fellow is the bearded fellow. Who's to
say he's not beautiful? Though?

Speaker 2 (01:06:29):
Okay, so it's so bearded. The thing that is confusing
for me is like I'm realizing that I don't know
if we use the word beard across like a bunch
of difference fauna, or if it because I feel like
when I think of beard, I feel like, Okay, well
I know that the people talk about bearded lizards. I

know people will talk about, like, you know, bearded primates,
people talk about, you know, bearded dogs. Have I heard
a beard describe? Like, who's is there a bird out
there that's being described as being bearded? I don't know so,
but probably, I mean, I guess probably, But beard is

funny to imagine with something with a beak, so I guess.
So the problem was is that my first inclination when
I heard that sound was to go monkey, because I
because I heard bearded And immediately it was like, oh, okay, well,
you know that's a chitterer chirp that could maybe be
a bird and maybe be a monkey. Again as a
total a person who has no idea about anything. Um,

then you hit me with the sounds at the end,
and now I feel even more confused. That feels like
again I could not know less about animals. The something
about the rhythmic nature of that almost felt more like well,
it felt like it was coming from the chest or
throat somehow, more like the sort of pulse of like right,
like it's this kind of explanation of sound more than

like up in the front of the mouth or the beak,
and I don't know if that again, I'm basically this
is not absolutely nothing, but that kind of freaked me
out because it was so consistent for so long that
felt like maybe more of a bird sound. So I
guess what I'm trying to say is I'm completely and
totally stumped. And it may be none of the things
I've mentioned and be a totally different creature, and I
have no idea.

Speaker 1 (01:08:17):
You for someone who keeps saying like, oh, I don't
know anything about animals, you your ability to zero in
on the right questions is very impressive because you.

Speaker 2 (01:08:26):
Are right, this is a bird, okay.

Speaker 1 (01:08:29):
And it is coming from the throat, and you're right
that this is a bearded bird. This is the bearded
bell bird, so a bell of the ball.

Speaker 2 (01:08:39):
There was even more information packed into that clue than
I realized.

Speaker 1 (01:08:42):
Yes, the clues, it's all, mister policeman. I've left all
the clues. I don't remember them. But yeah, this is
a bird found in South America. It is found in Venezuela, Trinidad,
Tobago and northern Brazil. It lives in humid forests. They
are forgiven there.

Speaker 2 (01:09:03):
You are. Oh my goodness, you really have a beard.

Speaker 1 (01:09:05):
They really have a beard.

Speaker 2 (01:09:07):
You look like you hung it or you hung it
around your neck.

Speaker 1 (01:09:10):
It is these are it kind of looks like feathers,
but these are not feathers. These are actually wattles. So
these are fleshy projections. Wow, coming off of their chin.
They are Otherwise you know, they're they're nice looking. They
have sort of like a brown head, a white body,
and black wings. But it's that beard that is so

unique about them.

Speaker 2 (01:09:33):
I have to say, it's clearly wattles. I mean, to me,
it doesn't look like feathers. You really can see that.
It has the consistency of like almost like rubber. Like yes,
if you're tapped against them, they would be like, yeah
they Why did they need that for?

Speaker 1 (01:09:47):
That is to track the ladies to be as sexy
as possible. They're not. You don't find that, you don't
find that handsome.

Speaker 2 (01:09:57):
I love it. I'm just so amazed because it's just
one of those times where you know, look, I know
we're not supposed to anthropomorphize, and I know that you know,
we can't relate everything to humanity, but that being said,
it's just so funny that you know, that's a real
aesthetic choice, like like like a strap and dude with

like a big, great lumberjack beard, you know. I mean
that's a look, and that's a look that you know,
some people call like the Portland, Oregon look. You know,
also like being bald and having a big beard. Like
I have several friends who sort of are rocking that
look and they wear it well, and I like them
better with beards. I like my friends who have those beards.
I like them better with them. And so it's amazing

to me. Again, no shade to this bird unless it
wants it, which it does because it's a venezuela so
it's a lot of green, So some shade as a gift.
It's just very funny that it's like, oh, I get it. Yeah,
facial hair looks. Yeah, it's a good look for some people.

Speaker 1 (01:10:56):
You mentioned that it's like not good to anthropomorphize, but
I would say it's okay some situations, especially when it
comes to birds aesthetic choice, because a lot of these
choices are complete, they seem to be pretty subjective and
with no real like practical purpose, right like does this
model actually do anything? Well, not necessarily. It could just

be that the females are like that looks good. I
like that as is the call. The call is to
attract the females over and it's very very loud. It's
one of the loudest bird calls. Uh. And that is
in order to get females to come over from great distances.
And then once they get there, he will show off
his amazing bird, his amazing beard, his plumage and hope

that she is impressed. H And so yeah, I mean
it kind of like to kind of like people.

Speaker 2 (01:11:49):
And I have to say too, I mean, as part
of that, like you hear that. And I was thinking
about that in terms of some of the little froggies
in Hawaii, for example, like part of being living inside
kind of a jungle environment, it seems like everybody's trying
to be louder than everybody else. So it must make
everyone so loud because there are so many sounds and
calls happening in a really lush landscape like that that

no wonder everybody has to play their music a little
bit louder than everybody else, you know. Also, yes, exactly
this led me to it also offered me up. There's
lots of wonderful pictures of the bearded bell bird, but
it also offered me up the three the three wattled
bell birds. I don't know if you've seen this. I
mean that is an amazing, like sort of Fu Manchu mustache. Yes,
and it is very special. Indeed, so I have two

new favorite birds there.

Speaker 1 (01:12:35):
Yeah, the bill birds are quite ostentatious. I highly encourage
you to explore them all. But yeah, their their facial
business is incredible and in diverse and yeah, absolutely they
are competing for yes.

Speaker 2 (01:12:51):
No, this maating moment of what she's sitting nearby going yes, yes,
more please seek me.

Speaker 1 (01:13:00):
Uh. Yeah, it's it's amazing. Uh. It is very cute
and kind of pathetic the way males to suit a
lens to you across the females. No kidding, so sorry,
So onto the next mister annimal sound the hint is this, Well,
I've already given you a hint this episode, so no

more hints. All right, you got any guesses?

Speaker 2 (01:13:34):
I mean, based on the hint about the hint, I
guess I would say it sounds like it could be.
And God, that's an irritating sense between that and the
sound of drones in the park when you're just like
wanting to have a nice walk you don't want to
hear and the sound of a mosquito in your ear.
I mean those are there's metallic, Yeah, those metallic, multi

level metallic person distant buzzes. Unfortunately to me, if you
wanted to make a horror movie about people going crazy,
not unlike you know, the sort of like great, you know,
great and good rabid zombie, you know, sort of like
oh this is like Raby's it makes it wants to
spread by blah blah blah. If there's some incentive to

having a sound that makes people want to hurt each other.
I mean, I just feel like my temper is so
much shortened by being in that noise for a length
of time.

Speaker 1 (01:14:28):
I wish you had written bird box because I think
you could have made it. There you go, Yeah, you
are absolutely correct, so which means I'm going to bleep
out just your correct answer so other people can guess.
But the people do know, they will know that you
are correct, and so you can you have won the prize,

which is a thumbs up.

Speaker 2 (01:14:56):
I'm a painful pleaser. Just give me that. Just give
me that.

Speaker 1 (01:14:59):
A A plus with a little thunderful. Well it's scratch
and sifts you know like a little Oh, you can
better bundle of grapes or an orange or something. Man,
I love it.

Speaker 2 (01:15:09):

Speaker 1 (01:15:10):
Well, Janet, thank you so much for joining me today.

Speaker 2 (01:15:12):
We're Katie. They can find me, I guess mostly on Instagram.
I'm decent on Instagram. Blow please don't DM me. Find
me at my website Janetvarney dot com. I never check
my dms, but on Instagram, at the JV Club, and
you can listen to my podcast on Maximum fund the
JV Club. You can also listen to my podcast about

Avatar the Last Airbender and the Legend of Cora that
I do for Nickelodeon Paramount, which is called Braving the Elements.
And if for some reason you're a true crime buff
in addition to being a fan of all things natural
and wonderful, you can also find me on Truth and Justice,
which is a wrongful convictions podcast.

Speaker 1 (01:15:51):

Speaker 2 (01:15:53):
Yeah, thanks for having me. This was I would do
this every day. This is so fun. I love your podcast.

Speaker 1 (01:15:58):
If Janet's voice sounds familiar and you're an Avatar the
Last Airbender fan, she is the voice of Cora, and
I'm you've done other voices as well. It's I have
this thing that happens when, like, you know, I watched
a lot of cartoons because I refuse to grow up.

And if I hear a voice actor or actress and
I'm like, how do I know you? Like, where do
I know you from?

Speaker 3 (01:16:28):

Speaker 1 (01:16:28):
Because your voice is I do the same, yeah, where
it's like your voice is a little different from the
character your voice because you're you're an actress, you do
an actual character. Then it's like, man, where do I
know you from?

Speaker 2 (01:16:41):
Yeah? That's well. I always like to say Korra is
just kind of stays at a more consistent, less cartoonish level,
which is sort of ironic that like the cartoon I'm
best known for is just the most kind of cool
version of my voice, and then I'm more of a
cartoon than she is. So that's kind of how that
panned out.

Speaker 1 (01:16:59):
But it's like it's but yeah, the NPR voice, But
that's right fantasy, Yes, that's right. Well, thank you so
much for joining me today. And if you are enjoying
the podcast and you leave a review. I read all
of them, every single one. I print them out and
I just kind of stack them up and then you know,
I you know, like in the movies, where they put

a bunch of money and then roll around on it.
For some reason, I do that with reviews. Podcast reviews
wonderful and thank you so much for the space cssics
for their super awesome song XO. Lumina Creature features a
production of iHeartRadio. For more podcasts like the one you
just heard, visit the iHeart Radio app Apple Podcasts, or Hey,
guess what where have you listened to your favorite shows?

I don't I don't judge it. I'm not your mother.
I can't tell you what to do. You got to
make these decisions for yourself. Fly, baby birds, you fly
on your own. Now it's time. See you next Wednesday.

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