Tag Archives: introductions

Introducing Ipomoea batatas

Sweet potato vines

Although she rarely has any involvement with actual growing facilities at the Triffid Ranch, the Czarina asked for an exception this year. While my dislike of sweet potatoes isn’t on a par with that of butternut squash or bell peppers, planting them for my own use never really came up on the radar. However, she adores them, and she regularly shares roasted sweet potatoes with our cat Leiber. Yes, the cat loves sweet potatoes, and since his consumption seems to cut down on piles of cat vomit randomly encountered in the dark, that’s a reason alone to try my hand at growing my own.

The reality is that half of the fun of experiencing a new plant is not knowing anything about its initial growth, and watching the whole process. The other half is having a growing area that was criminally underutilized. Since the big silverleaf maples came down two years ago, this space had little to no shade during the worst of the summer heat, and the usual assemblage of tomatoes, white potatoes, or other essentials burned off by mid-June. When the Czarina gave me a stored sweet potato that had started sprouting and asked if I could plant it in the space, I told her “I’ll do what I can, but I can’t make any promises.” I knew they could handle Texas heat, but could they handle our ridiculously low North Texas humidity?

As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about. The growing area had become the depository of nearly five years of kitchen compost, dead Sarracenia and Nepenthes leaves, extra potting mix from repottings, and the occasional bag of grass cuttings dumped on top to keep things moist. Five years of earthworms, ox beetle grubs, and the occasional armadillo later, and the soil in that depository had become a fluffy, rich loam, absolutely perfect for both growing and harvesting any root crops growing in it. Harvesting wasn’t a matter of digging out as it was simply brushing off dirt and hauling it in.

Sweet potato flower
But I get ahead of myself. Much like the sweet potato cousin the moonflower (Ipomoea alba), the biggest issue with sweet potatoes is getting them established. I suspect both species work in symbiosis with fungi in a commensual relationship, because the first year of trying to get either to grow is a bear, but after that first year, the seeds or tubers practically sprout the moment they touch the ground. I don’t know if I actually got any sweet potato seeds in the growing area this year, but judging by the number of stunning flowers growing under the foliage, I may luck out. Unlike other members of the genus Ipomoea, these flowers remain hidden under multiple layers of foliage, and I suspect that they fluoresce extensively under UV light, possibly encouraging night pollinators.

Sweet potato foliage

About that foliage, that’s one thing about sweet potatoes. It’s not shy about taking over the planet. By the beginning of August, mowing the lawn around the greenhouse was a proposition, as the sweet potato vines spreading outward tend to wrap around and tangle up lawn mower blades. This was about the time we discovered that sweet potato leaves made excellent additions to stir-fry or as a substitute for spinach in various recipes. At that point, the questions was whether the sweet potato would ask for UN citizenship to protect it from the Czarina’s depredations. It actually worked out well, because until Halloween weekend, it was growing new leaves faster than she could strip them out. In the meantime, the vines also offered great shelter for praying mantises and anole lizards, so building a trellis alongside the greenhouse and encouraging sweet potatoes to act as shade plants might be an option.

Sweet potato stems

Sadly, with Halloween came the threat of cold weather, and if there’s one thing that will ruin a sweet potato harvest, it’s the rot spread by dead and dying vines killed off by a good frost. This meant that they had to come out and start curing in a high-humidity area before they went bad. As mentioned before, the soil was so loose that the only hardship was finding the base of the plant. I say this after the vines had swallowed a rain gauge, two sprinkler heads, and a chiminea, but lifting up the mat of intertwined vines finally revealed the crown of the plant, and some quick grubbing around it came across the first of the tubers.

Sweet potato harvest

Having never done this before, I fully expected the usual beginner’s harvest: two or three tubers, and won’t I feel great about my accomplishments? Apparently, though, all of those composted Sarracenia leaves contributed to the tilth, because one removed tuber would reveal another. And another. And another. By the time things were finished, I managed to get nearly 15 kilos of tubers out of that tiny little space, and I still think I missed a few.

Sweet potato harvest

With the soil not consisting solely of Black Prairie clay, cleanup was remarkably easy: a quick wash with the hose, setting them in the sun to dry, and a quick inspection for damage or rot. Both the wife and the cat were even more impressed by the harvest: Leiber has never had interest in raw sweet potatoes before, but he looked half-tempted to take a chunk right then and there.

Monster sweet potato

Another thing about this adventure is the realization that what we think of as “typical” sweet potato sizes are more dictated by market pressures than by any plant-imposed maximum. The first few dug up were “typical” in size, and then this one revealed itself. I now understand the source of canned sweet potatoes, as this one was too big just to cook up and eat, so it became the core of several batches of sweet potato bread. I had no real interest, but judging by the way friends were tearing into it, it was that much more for everybody else.

Sontaran head

Finally, we got this beast, nearly the size of a soccer ball. Upon seeing pictures of this one roasting in a casserole dish, after FIVE HOURS of roasting to get it cooked all the way through, old friend Cat Sparks exclaimed “That’s not a sweet potato! That’s a Sontaran‘s head!!” I couldn’t disagee, and if I can get more spherical ones such as this, I may have a viable replacement for pumpkins for Jack O’Lanterns that can grow in our heat. But first, I’m training the next batch to climb up trellises, grow up onto the roof, and shade the garage. I have my priorities in order.

EDIT: Since people started asking about the sweet potato bread recipe, here’s the Czarina’s own recipe, in her own words:
So, I’m giving you the recipe for sweet potato bread. However, be warned. I’m renaming it ‘crack bread’. You have no idea how addictive this bread is. On one side, it is low in carbs, and does have some protein, but it’s not calorie-free.
You’ve been warned.

Sweet Potato bread-

2 cups of brown sugar
1 cup of white sugar
3 eggs
2 cups of cold mashed sweet potatoes
1 tsp of vanilla extract
2 3/4 all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 (or less) tsp of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup of chocolate chips, dark chocolate preferably.

Now this mixture will get Thick, so I’d pull out the mixer. I nearly killed my little handheld mixer.
In a bowl, combine sugar, eggs, sweet potatoes, and vanilla. mix well.
add all the spices, mix well.
combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder, and mix in gradually into your sweet potato mixture. Lastly, add chocolate chips, or if you prefer, a cup of pecans.

Bake at 350, for about 45-50 minutes, testing to see if a toothpick will pull out cleanly at the center of the bread. Time may vary on oven. One mixture equals about three smaller loaves for me.

Now don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Introducing Potentilla indica

Potentilla indica

Anybody with any passing familiarity with candy knows that the flavors commonly attributed to various fruits have no real connection to the original. Banana, watermelon, mango, pineapple…none of the confectionary analogues come close to the originals, and don’t even get me started on the horror that is “blue raspberry.” The biggest and most unfair lie of all, though, comes with the overuse of the phrase “wild strawberry.” For those whom have never had the privilege of coming across a hill full of wild strawberries and picked every last tiny morsel, the term “abomination,” when used to describe the artificially flavored nightmares blithely stealing the name, may be a bit extreme. However, it’s also accurate.

This, in a roundabout way, explains my sad and regretful relationship with a common weed rather common in North Texas suburban environments. Potentilla indica is often known as “Indian strawberry“, but it’s best called “false strawberry”. Lying, tricksy, false. In a way, P.indica taught me one of the best object lessons of my entire life.

As far as a garden and lawn weed is concerned, you could do a lot worse than P. indica. In North Texas, at least, it’s not invasive, and it’s not particularly obnoxious, either. It grows low to the ground, in both sun and shade, but doing best in places with a little bit of protection from the worst of local weather. It usually shows thanks to seeds deposited by birds, and birds absolutely adore the ripe fruits. Other than that, it doesn’t choke out more desirable garden plants. It doesn’t attract mosquitoes or armadillos. It doesn’t jam up lawn mowers or Weedeaters. It has no spines or toxic sap, and in fact the leaves are edible both raw and cooked. Compared to most of the flora generally labeled “weeds” this area, P. indica isn’t exactly the visitor who wouldn’t leave.

Potentilla indica

The problem, of course, is that its leaves and runners are very similar to those of wild strawberries, and the green and ripe fruit are also very similar, thus explaining the common name. In fact, that resemblance explains why so many beginning gardeners let it move in. For those lucky enough to have tasted real wild strawberries, it’s completely understandable. Even though the fruit doesn’t look exactly the same, there’s that hope, you know?

Potentilla indica

That’s where P. indica gets you. The fruit isn’t toxic, or even noxious. It just tastes of disappointment. It tastes of school field trips to the bank. Getting school supplies for your birthday. Spending your Christmas bonus on a CT scan to check out that “anomaly” on your lung, and not even getting a chestburster alien for your trouble. Quitting your last job because of the insufferable idiot in the next cubicle who wouldn’t quit braying every last thing that passed through his microscopic mind, and discovering that your next-door neighbor at the new job is an even bigger and more obnoxious idiot. The premiere screening of Star Trek III. Ordering the latest E.L. Doctorow and discovering that Amazon.com shipped you the latest Cory Doctorow instead. With no expectations, false strawberries aren’t absolutely horrible: they’re mostly water, with the slightest hint of wintergreen, but nothing you’d want to cultivate in huge quantities. But with the memory of wild strawberries on the tip of your tongue while popping a false strawberry in your mouth? It’s the taste of ash and despair and your prom date’s mother setting a curfew of midnight because “that’s late enough”.

Yeah, I made the mistake of letting false strawberry get established in my yard, a third of my life ago. The lesson I learned was to take advantage of current thrills, not past regrets, so I never held it against P. indica for trapping me the same way it traps birds into spreading its seeds. I will say, though, that the foliage is quite tasty, both raw and cooked, and that guarantees that it won’t be overtaking my yard again any time soon. If only scarlet trumpetvine were so easy to deal with.

Introducing Phidippus audax

It’s amazing what you find during a standard greenhouse cleaning, and it’s even more amazing who you find. In the process of moving a growing bench, I had to clear off a shelf, and found someone I haven’t seen in a while. One and all, I’d like to introduce you to M’Nuuuurc, sole remaining diplomatic liaison from Metabilis 3, and someone who definitely appreciates a greenhouse full of terrestrial arthropods needing a bit of population control.

Phiddipus audax

On a more serious basis, the jumping spider Phidippus audax, if you needed a spider in your house, is one of the best choices around. I’d never call any spider friendly, but P. audax is more likely to recognize humans as harmless to them than most others. In return, they’re completely harmless to humans, they don’t spin obtrusive webs, they actively dislike contact with human skin in any way, and they’re absolutely voracious predators. When found indoors, they’re usually feeding on such pests as silverfish and firebrats, but I’ve also seen them take down prey as large as juvenile grasshoppers. In the greenhouse, they’re always welcome, especially with dealing with insect pests, such as those aforementioned grasshoppers, that see nothing wrong with munching on pitcher plants.

Phiddipus audax
But this one? I’ve viewed a lot of jumping spiders over the years, but never have I come across one this size. In many ways, I’m very glad that these spiders only bite humans in the most desperate self-defense, and that their venom doesn’t seem to have any effect on us in any case. The moment they decide to cooperate and go after larger prey, we’re in trouble.

Phiddipus audax

Introducing Arilus cristatus

Arilus cristatus

When trying to study the natural history of North Texas, always pay attention to annual patterns to be sure, but don’t be afraid to note longer patterns. Many plants and animals here don’t obligingly make themselves visible every single year: many disappear for a year or two, and then suddenly they’re everywhere as if they’ve never left. With many others, they never left, but they suddenly become prominent for inscrutable reasons. We’re already famous for our various floods of grasshoppers and crickets, and a few are lucky enough to witness the sudden explosion of tiger beetles, mantises, or tarantulas in geographically tight areas. This year, my own personal surprise was seeing the return of the ambush bug Arilus cristatus, generally known locally as the “wheel bug”. I’ve looked high and low since coming across my first one in a tree in the summer of 2000, and haven’t seen a single one until this past week. In that week, though, I’ve encountered four of them, including this dying specimen here, and I fully expect to find even more camping out among the pineapples and Bhut Jolokia peppers in my smaller greenhouse, feeding on anything they can catch.

Looking at one from the side, it’s easy to see where the “wheel bug” name came from. In this specimen, the individual teeth in the crest are damaged in the center, but most look as if someone stuck a watch gear into its back. (Yes, I’m also glad that nobody’s calling it a “steampunk bug“. Yet.) Incidentally, for those without a Latin background, that crest is also where A. cristatus gets its species name. According to some authorities, this crest may be an identifier for birds and other predators that the wheel bug tastes as badly as it smells: in that regard, it shares with its true bug kin a very recognizable and extremely unpleasant metallic stink when disturbed.

Not that the stink is all that wheel bugs have for protection. Unlike their cousins the stink bugs, ambush bugs are all very aggressive predators (including the ones that live in symbiosis with the South African carnivorous plants Roridula spp.), so their beaks are designed to pierce flesh and carapace. If you want to know about the pain of a wheel bug bite, or the subsequent healing process, please feel free to check with someone else, because I haven’t been bitten yet nor do I plan to do so. Avoiding contact with ambush bugs is generally a good idea, whether in real life or in fiction.

Arilus cristatus

Taking a look from above, A. cristatus can fly. In fact, it’s a remarkably good flier, even if it doesn’t have particular speed or agility. Swat at one, and it’s much more likely to take off and buzz away rather than risk being damaged. Not that this happens all that often anyway: wheel bugs both have excellent camouflage when against tree bark or reflective leaves (in my recent experience, they’re particularly fond of camping out in both pineapple plants and on live oaks), and they tend to hide in plain sight and attack unwary prey. During the summer, though, they’re just as likely to track prey underneath street lights, and that’s when the big ones come out. Just last Saturday, while running late-night errands, I came very close to accidentally stepping on one that was as long as my thumb.

Arilus cristatus

Another thing to note about A. cristatus is the bend in each antenna. That isn’t damage or a deformity: the upper half can wave back and forth at the end of the lower half, like a cat toy. I don’t know if wheel bugs use these to attract prey, like the caudal lure on immature copperhead snakes, or if the waving helps as camouflage, but this might be a useful experiment.

Arilus cristatus

And with closeup photos, the wheel bug just keeps getting better. On the lower right corner, you can see the two clawed toes on each foot, obviously used for climbing and for hanging onto prey. The head is to the left, with the eye and beak being particularly noticeable. Also note the fuzziness in the photo, because that isn’t from the camera focus. While barely visible to the naked eye, wheel bugs are covered with very fine hairs, and these grow thick enough along the legs and underside of the body that it’s easy to believe that the problem lies with the camera than with the bug. Another experiment, for this evening, is to see if these hairs fluoresce under ultraviolet light, or if they actually absorb UV and make the bug blend into its surroundings even further. Lots of ideas, and nowhere near enough time, so here’s hoping that we see more of these guys over the remainder of the summer.

Introducing Sarracenia flava

The joke all throughout Texas goes “Don’t like the weather? Hang around for five minutes.” Our reality isn’t much better. While not getting the rain we were promised (as of this week, we’re now facing the driest spring registered in North Texas since 1971, and we’re heading straight toward Year Three of the worst drought seen in the state since the “drought of record” in 1952-56), Saturday was average for the area and the time of the year. Then Sunday hit, and it’s time to pull out the winter coats and gloves again. By Monday and Tuesday, we faced low temperatures below freezing, which isn’t a big deal further north, but here? I’ve lived here for two-thirds of my life, and I apparently missed our last big late freeze in 1997 by being trapped in Portland, Oregon at the time.

Anyway, the cold coming through so late in the year couldn’t have hit at a worse time. The plans to set up the new greenhouse went into standby, as the winds on Sunday were ferocious enough that attempting to install greenhouse film would have whisked me to Oz or at least to Nehwon. The citrus trees and the new blueberry, recently purchased to replace the “Pink Lemonade” blueberry bush that died during last year’s fall immolation, went under cover, as did all of the hot pepper bonsai just trimmed and wired. I couldn’t do much for the Sarracenia in their wading pools except trust in their ability to handle light frosts, but I pulled in two yellow pitchers, Sarracenia flava>, inside to protect their new blooms.

Sarracenia flava

Early spring isn’t a good time for control freak carnivorous plant enthusiasts, particularly those engrossed in Sarracenia. As mentioned elsewhere, all of the North American pitcher plants go into dormancy by mid-November, and we got enough cold, including our freak snowfall on Christmas Day, to kill off most of the autumn pitchers by mid-January. That’s not a problem, because come March, they grow more. What to do about the scraggly mess hiding the blooms, though?

Sarracenia flava

At this point, the best thing to do is cut off anything that’s gone brown and evaluate any new growth, as well as remove weeds that sprouted up at the same time. In this photo, you may note that this S. flava still has a kindasorta live trap from last year, even if the top is burned off, and two new tall pitchers starting to sprout. If you’re trimming yours back, leave anything that’s still green attached to the plant, especially this time of the year. The plant needs every last photon it can capture to get a good start on the year, so as tempting as it is to snip those half-traps, leave them on until they actually die off.

Sarracenia flava

While giving these guys their new spring tonsorials, taking the time to go through it carefully has its reward. Hidden among the wreckage wasn’t just a tiny little pitcher that emerged at about the time the plant bloomed, but a handful of violets sprouting in the sphagnum moss. The pitcher was interesting in its own right: because most of the pollinators for Sarracenia are also potential prey, most plants bloom and only start opening up traps after the blooms fade. This little pitcher, though, was probably working hard at catching mosquitoes, fungus gnats, and anything else it could snag, passing on what nitrogen it could from digestion to the main plant while the main pitchers started to emerge. It stays, but unfortunately the violets are going to go…probably into a bog garden arrangement. The flowers don’t last long, but the leaves have their own merits if they don’t burn off in the summer heat.

Sarracenia flava bloom

Speaking of blooms, the only thing more impressive than Sarracenia traps are their blooms, and this one helps explain why the common name is “yellow pitcher”. The traps tend toward chartreuse, but the blooms just blaze. In the years I’ve kept Sarracenia, I’ve noticed these blooms ranging from canary to a very light green. The scent tends to be a bit like cat spray, which can be a bit overpowering in enclosed areas, and I’ve heard of problems with cats assuming that the analogue is the real thing and attacking bog gardens for that reason. These, though, were all completely odor-free, but I’m not sure if that was because of the bloom or the insane lack of humidity in the area at the time. However, look at them under ultraviolet light, or even under a good full moon, and get a good idea of what a pollinating insect sees.

Sarracenia flava bloom

When most people see Sarracenia blooms, the understandable concern is that the plant traps bees, wasps, and other big potential pollinators. As mentioned earlier, the plant produces its first traps after the blooms open, to remove the risk of snagging a freshly pollen-covered wasp and thereby preventing its genes from passing on to new generations. The bloom is a trap all on its own, though, but not a fatal one. The bottom cap or shield seen in this photo protects the flower’s stamens from rain and wind, and the only way in is through slots in the cap. Those caps are covered by the petals, which are about as strong and stiff as cling wrap or chunks of burst balloon, so an insect seeking nectar or pollen can push the petals aside and get in under the cap. Problem is, the petals also conceal the slots once the bug is inside, so it tends to wander around for a while, getting dusted with pollen both from the stamens above it and with loose pollen within the cap. I’ve seen honeybees escape a cap that were absolutely antiqued with fresh pollen, and there’s enough in an individual cap to expedite the pollination of a whole stand of pitcher plants.

Eventually, the fun ends. When the flower finally gets pollinated, the petals drop off, other insects wipe up the excess pollen, and the seed pod in the interior swells, matures, and then dries out. By the end of summer, I gather the mature pods, stratify them in the refrigerator over the winter, and then pot them in fresh sphagnum moss in spring. And the cycle continues.

Introducing Cercis canadensis

Redbud portrait

26 years ago, I was in a rather bad place. I was stuck in a dead-end groundskeeping job at a now-long-dead Texas Instruments site, where I had the option of paying rent or buying food but not both at the same time. In an attempt to get into a better situation, I moved at the end of February 1987 to a much more amenable apartment, without considering that moving, in the short term, can cost even more than staying put. Hence, I was beyond broke, forcing myself to go to work with levels of willpower that should qualify me for a Green Lantern ring one of these days. In fact, the only thing that kept me going for the first month of spring was that the new apartment’s porch overlooked Carrollton’s Greenbelt Park, and that park was full of huge redbud trees.

Redbud branches

Although ranging through most of North America (hence the Latin name Cercis canadensis), redbuds are as much of a part of Texas as armadillos and mesquite. When I first moved here, the common advice given to new gardeners was to wait until the redbuds bloomed before planting anything freeze-sensitive, because they only exploded when we were reasonably safe from killer frosts. (That wisdom may be challenged this weekend, by the way, but seeing as how we last saw a late killer frost in 1997, we’re overdue.) For about two weeks, their blooms brighten otherwise stark woods and parks, to be replaced with pear, peach, and crabapple blooms as they sprout leaves. For the rest of the year, they’re curious ornamental trees, bearing big heart-shaped leaves and seed pods that resemble nothing so much as snow peas. They don’t get overly big, they don’t choke out other trees, they offer sporadic but reasonable shade, and they thrive on the poor soils that are practically a North Texas trademark.

Redbud blooms

Redbud blooms

Redbud blooms

Those seed pods, by the way, not only give away their heritage, as redbuds are woody members of the pea family. They also give a hint on edibility. Specifically, while the seed pods are tough and stringy, the flowers are not only edible but tasty if you like snow peas. Pluck them after they open, preferably after a rainstorm so they’ve been washed of dust (instead of washed in dust, the way this spring has been going), and eat them raw. The Czarina is particularly fond of garnishing salads with them, and as soon as she can figure out how to preserve them without their turning to mush, I expect to come home one evening and find the freezer stockpiled with fresh-frozen redbud blooms.

I’d be remiss in not mentioning that if you plan to get a redbud tree, do so NOW. Various cultivars exist, mostly ranging in bloom intensity between light pink and a deep pomegranate, and it’s impossible to tell the difference between them when they’re not blooming. Likewise, when they stop blooming, they tend to blend in with other trees, so unless your powers of botanical identification are fully operational, you’ll walk by even fully mature trees in scrub woodlands. The trick is to get them now, so that they’re fully established for next spring’s fireworks, and let them grow a bit into a decent shape.

As for bonsai possibilities, don’t ask me. Yet. One of these days, though…

Introducing Dasypus novemcinctus


We don’t get too many cloudy days in Texas compared to other places, which means that we cherish the few that we get. One of the best surprises comes when the cloud cover is particularly thick, such as it was last Friday morning, and more nocturnal denizens don’t get the memo that they need to go to bed. This means that on my morning bike ride to the Day Job, I see all sorts of interesting things. Screech owls catching one last drink from a puddle formed by lawn sprinklers. An especially fat opossum checking to see if someone left cat food out on the back porch. Raccoons caught up trees in road medians, as they realize they can’t get across the road until after rush hour traffic ends. Very occasionally, a lone coyote or grey fox sitting in the middle of a field, watching the sun come up. Very, very occasionally, we even get one of Texas’s great symbols digging in lawns and weed patches, slurping up grubs and worms in the freshly wet and cool dirt.

Upright armadillo

While the nine-banded armadillo isn’t unique to Texas, it’s lived here long enough to qualify as a native. The armadillo is currently the only member of the Edentata left in the continental United States, although it used to have quite a bit of company with anteaters, ground sloths, and glyptodonts during the last ice age. In the Anthropocene Epoch, it’s done quite well, even with the addition of cars, dogs, and fire ants.


Now, I could bring up all of the usual points shared with people who have never seen an armadillo in the wild. I could bring up that armadillos always have four pups in a litter, and those four are genetically identical. I could note that armadillos are the only mammals besides humans to carry and transmit leprosy. I could hint exactly how flexible that armor can be, especially relating the time I found one in my back yard, squeezing underneath the fence door like a cat. I might even relate how their eyesight is so poor that they’re nearly totally blind, but their hearing is so acute that if they let humans see and even get close to them, it’s because they simply don’t care. What is particularly noteworthy, though, is that they’re fast and incredibly nimble for something in a shell. Every time I encounter one, I rediscover how fast: the first time I saw one in the wild, nearly thirty years ago, I learned that their main defense is jumping as much as a meter high. I learned this as I tried to capture one and the little monster nearly knocked out my front teeth in the process. The night before I took these photos, I learned it again when I accidentally spooked one on my bicycle, and it paced my bike for a full minute before I slowed down and let it pass.

The real sign of how fast these guys can be? This one was moving so quickly while foraging that I didn’t even get the chance to adjust my camera to decent settings. At least, that’s my excuse, and I’ll blame the armadillo instead of my horrible photography skills.

As far as other notes on armadillos, most guides make noises about how they’ll curl into a ball, but they’re usually too busy running to consider doing something like that. What’s usually left out, though, is that they have an absolute addiction to beer, the cheaper the better. Hence, some longtime Texans may remember this set of ads from “the national beer of Texas”, involving a giant armadillo that ripped delivery trucks in half:

Even under the best conditions, the little American earth pigs ultimately realize that the day is getting long, and it’s time to go to bed. For armadillos, that’s usually in thick tangles, among greenbriar vines and other obstructions, and they dig tunnels just deep enough for them to hide their vulnerable parts. Just like a cat, when they’re done, as this one was, there’s only one view you get of them as they say goodbye.

Armadillo butt