My son Benny, Jr. and I have encountered many types of wildlife while searching for irises in the wild. Some are beautiful and harmless like herons, wood ducks, pileated woodpeckers, deer, indigo buntings, and blue birds, to name a few. Others are in another category, like alligators and poisonous snakes. We both have had water moccasins strike at us and miss, but Benny, Jr. has had the closest calls.


On one occasion we were walking along the bank of a bayou looking far ahead for irises. My son was leading and stepped right over a coiled up moccasin sunning itself. He was lucky not to be bitten. Another time he was looking down at some I.fulva, and a non-poisonous rat snake struck at his face from the tree above. In our searches we have seen hundreds of alligators, once Benny, Jr. was knee deep in murky water trying to get to some I.giganticaerulea growing in a clearing when he noticed an alligator about seven feet in length floating approximately forty feet away. The alligator submerged and subsequently reappeared about twenty feet from him. There was no way for him to quickly escape the muddy bottom swamp to a safe place, and he thought the splashing might give the alligator the idea he was wounded prey. After a few minutes of staring at each other the alligator turned and swam away. When he thought the gator was a safe distance from him, he continued on to the I.giganticaerulea, which turned out to be nearly seven feet tall.

We keep a change of underwear in the truck for just such occasions.