Suet Feeder Extension

Shortly after this season’s suet feeder deployment, the neighborhood raccoons emptied it. A few years ago, putting a 3D printed feeder at the end of a repurposed ski pole protected it for a few weeks, so I scrounged another pole from the pile, cut off the flattened top and battered tip, and put it into service:

Suet Feeder Extension - deployed
Suet Feeder Extension – deployed

The near end has a loop made from a pair of stainless steel key cables, because a single cable was just slightly too short:

Suet Feeder Extension - anchor loop
Suet Feeder Extension – anchor loop

The far end has what was once a hook, beaten straight to fit through the hole, then beaten around the curve of the pole:

Suet Feeder Extension - chain anchor
Suet Feeder Extension – chain anchor

Raccoons lacking opposable thumbs, this should suffice until the black bear(s) spotted around here take up residence in the yard.

Monthly Science: Chestnut Weevil Damage

The dried chestnuts looked undamaged in their husk, but three groups of weevil grubs surely left some damage behind:

Chestnut husk - dried
Chestnut husk – dried

Gingerly prying the seeds out revealed holes in all three:

Chestnut weevil damage - exterior
Chestnut weevil damage – exterior

The weevils converted the nut meat into what looks like solid frass:

Chestnut weevil damage - interior
Chestnut weevil damage – interior

Having eaten themselves out of house and home, they moved on to the next plane of existence.

For most of them, that would be bird food.

Chestnut Parasites

I spotted this little gadget chugging steadily across a table in the living room:

Chestnut parasite larva - detail
Chestnut parasite larva – detail

Nearby, two of its friends / siblings / clones remained near their landing craft:

Chestnut parasite larvae - overview
Chestnut parasite larvae – overview

They’re about 5 mm long and, although there are no larva-size holes visible in the chestnuts tucked inside the burr, that’s definitely where they started their journey.

A few hours later, the rest of the crew bailed out:

Chestnut parasite larvae - irruption
Chestnut parasite larvae – irruption

The exit hole must be on a nut under the curve of the husk, but they’re sufficiently squishy to wriggle their way out. The little brown dot over on the left belongs to the top larva of a pair queued in the exit corridor:

Chestnut parasite larvae - exiting husk
Chestnut parasite larvae – exiting husk

I lost count at 18. There’s surely more where they came from, so I replaced the plate with a bowl to reduce the quantum tunneling probability.

In an ideal world, they’d grow up to be chestnut weevils, but I put them out near the suet feeder and, a few hours later, my offering was accepted.

Praying Mantis: Ootheca Construction

After not seeing any Praying Mantis activity in the Butterfly Bush for a few days, I discovered our armored hunter in the nearby decorative grass:

Praying Mantis - building ootheca
Praying Mantis – building ootheca

The appendages at the tip of her abdomen were spread to the sides and her whole body moved in small circles, although I couldn’t get a good view of the proceedings. Building an ootheca apparently requires concerted effort, as she was still hard at work when dusk fell.

Funnel Web Spiders

This critter took up residence in our kitchen window:

Funnel web spider in window
Funnel web spider in window

She’s between the outer storm window and the inner sash, having secured her funnel web to both panes across the entire width of the window. We’d opened the storm window to clear an air conditioner vent and spiders know a good location when they see it.

We know she’s female, because a (smaller) male appeared and conducted negotiations for the better part of an afternoon. After she accepted his offer of a small, somewhat battered, moth, the two hooked up for the rest of the day; we feared for his life, but he hung around until the next afternoon, then departed.

She normally stays tucked inside the channel running along the edge of the window frame, with only the tips of those two front legs visible, and retreats at the slightest vibration, so we’ll leave her in peace until we must close the storm window.