#NatureWritingChallenge - A memorable insect encounter on public lands

A memorable insect encounter on public lands.

Join us on Twitter with the hashtag #NatureWritingChallenge to discuss and share the topic Thursday at 8:30 CST. This post was created in one hour specifically for this challenge.

I was searching for a place to hike that wasn’t one of the tired, old regular places in the DFW metro area. I decided that the trip four hours north and east to the Ouachita National Forest would be a good choice for that day of September. There was a scenic byway and plenty of trails so I figured I’d get an early start and and hike as the sun rose over through hills. I was aware the hike could encounter snakes, spiders, and other insects but what I’d find was pleasantly surprising.

The day was starting off right with plenty of sun and a nice breeze. I started off on the trail, dodging the usual spider webs as the first person out, and it just did not end. The spider webs were THICK - both in web intricacy and quantity. My memory of this hike was one of annoyance; how dare those spiders try and stop me from those gorgeous hilly trails?

I’m not sure my pictures from the day do the size of the spiders and their webs any justice, but here they are:

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Spiders were commonplace for hikes around Texas and the surrounding states but seeing a real live walking stick was a treat. I was paying close attention to the branches at the point of discovery because I didn’t want to disrupt a spider or get one on my body. I looked over against the yellowing leaves and saw the stick move and the move some more and then it finally clicked - it was a bug! The walking stick was a pleasant surprise encounter and one I did not fear. The creature didn’t really move that much, beyond the little bit to cause notice, so I snapped a few pictures and went on my way pretty excited to see something new.

Since then I’ve had many encounters with various spiders, scorpions, and other bugs but nothing nearly as unique and interesting as the walking stick from Oklahoma.