Erratic Monsoons and The Natural Cycle

Millipede on one of the clumps

Before leaving for Honey Valley last weekend – I had noticed a bunch of eggs laid by the Minervarya sahyadris in a roadside pool outside my house. Although a frog that is listed as endangered – probably due to it’s less extensive range – it is among the most common species in Manipal, especially in moist laterite grasslands (and is quite common wherever it is found, actually).

The rain showers are back with force today, but there was a week-long lull in the rains up until yesterday and enough sunshine to dry out a lot of temporary and shallow water bodies.

When I returned home last night after dinner, I was sitting outside when I noticed a scorpion skittering out to the road and I decided to follow it with my camera. It crossed the spot where the eggs were present till last week, but the puddle was nowhere to be seen!

Millipede on one of the clumps
Millipede on one of the clumps

Upon closer inspection, I noticed an aggregation of Helminthomorph millipedes around a gooey mass. I took a photo and zoomed in – only to find that the mass was actually a clump of Minervarya tadpoles and the millipedes seemed to be trying to feed on them! Not wanting to deprive the millipedes of their meal (do they even feed on tadpoles? I know most feed on decomposing organic matter and some feed on small snails, insects and centipedes – hence I am guessing they might take up tadpoles too!), I didn’t know what to do – so I picked up the clump the millipedes weren’t harassing on to a leaf and dropped them off to the nearest puddle where Minervaryas were actively calling from.

 An adult Minervarya male calling from the puddle where I eventually left some of the tadpoles.
An adult Minervarya male calling from the puddle where I eventually left some of the tadpoles.

In nature (and in life), it is amazing how these moments – often tragic and painful – take place so regularly and there is always some part of the ecosystem waiting to pounce on the chance and making the most of it.