Vultures & Maggots,
nature's very efficient maintenance crew.
Yesterday I made 4
trips to Home Depot to pick up concrete pavers for the entrance to my
front door. I had to make several trips because I no longer have a truck
and didn't want to destroy my car with the excessive weight. On the
first trip I spotted a large vulture on the side of the street picking
at the remains of some unrecognizable furry road kill. On the
second trip there were 3 vultures and on the third trip there were about
10 of them. The interesting thing was only one of the giant birds was
picking at the carcass while the others sat patiently waiting their
turn. I never realized vultures were so polite. On the fourth trip several of the vultures were sitting
on a nearby fence using their waiting time to cool themselves with their
wings spread open. It was one of those moments I wished I had a camera
with me because it was a sight you don't see every day.
usually associate vultures with Florida but we do have plenty of them
here. The ones I've seen aren't the ugly long crooked neck type we see
in movies and cartoons. Our vultures are much more refined looking, but
they are very large.
the vultures as I passed them several times got me to thinking about how
efficient nature is. I think most of us view vultures in a very negative
way, with a disdain much like that reserved for the untouchables in
India who were born into a life of taking care of the dead and other
jobs that most of us would never want to do. Somehow those jobs must be
done, so nature has provided a very efficient system of dealing with
dead animal carcasses and other unwanted natural substances. Vultures
eat what they can get to, leaving the rest for the next crew.
As far as
I know, not all areas have vultures, but most do have flies. Flies produce larvae, known as maggots, in the rotting flesh of dead animals. The maggots very
efficiently eat the remains down to the bone. Just think about what it
would be like without these incredible creatures to clean up the messes
no one else wants to even think about, let alone touch. I'm sure we
would be smelling death around us much more than we do now. With all the
wildlife around, especially here in Florida, we know that these critters
eventually must die, but we rarely see any sign of it. Occasionally
we'll smell something outside that is obviously rotting flesh. It's a
smell that is unforgettable. Incredibly, that awful smell is what
attracts the flies. It sounds the alert that there is work to be done
nearby. The flies zoom into action and take care of the job immediately.
I have a
very interesting plant in my garden that works in much the same way.
This incredible plant puts out a new bloom every couple years. The
incredible part is that the flower looks very similar to raw red meat
and it smells just like rotting flesh. This way it attracts the flies it
needs to pollinate it so there will be seeds for the next season. It's
not a pleasant flower for us to smell but then it wasn't designed for
our nostrils. Its common name is voodoo lily, but there are many
varieties of voodoo lily. This particular one is Amorphophallus
paeoniifolius. I keep it for the shear wow factor. Nature is so amazing,
don't you think?
paeoniifolius "Voodoo Lily"