Posts Tagged Wildlife

Monthly Science: Praying Mantis Ootheca

We extracted the Praying Mantis oothecae while clearcutting the decorative grasses bracketing the front door. As far as I can tell, they’re still charged up and ready for use.

The masses resemble rigid foam wrapped around grass stems:

Praying Mantis ootheca - stem side
Praying Mantis ootheca – stem side

It’s a mechanical joint, not an adhesive bond, and the dried stems slide freely through the openings:

Praying Mantis ootheca - bottom
Praying Mantis ootheca – bottom

From one side:

Praying Mantis ootheca - right
Praying Mantis ootheca – right

And the other:

Praying Mantis ootheca - left
Praying Mantis ootheca – left

They’re now tied to stems of the bushes along the front of the house, which (I hope) will resemble what the little ones expect to find when they emerge, whenever they do.

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Monthly Image: Albino Squirrel

We’re riding home with groceries when a small white shape scampered across a yard and jumped onto a stump:

Albino Squirrel 2020-03-03 - 680 crop
Albino Squirrel 2020-03-03 – 680 crop

If you’ve ever seen a gray squirrel, you’ll recognize the shape, even in this gritty enlargement:

Albino Squirrel 2020-03-03 - 680 - detail crop
Albino Squirrel 2020-03-03 – 680 – detail crop

Wikipedia says this one is likely a leucistic white squirrel, rather than a true albino squirrel. There is, of course, a website. tracking “white squirrel” sightings.

The relevant coordinates, for science:

41°41'39.9"N 73°52'56.6"W
41.694410, -73.882374

Can’t say if this one had black or pink eyes, but it was pure white!

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Garden Mole: End of Life

One of the moles aerating the ground around here ran out of steam beside the garden:

Mole - dorsal
Mole – dorsal

It has wonderfully soft velvety fur!

Flipping it over:

Mole - ventral
Mole – ventral

A closeup of its digging paws and gnawing teeth:

Mole - ventral paws - teeth
Mole – ventral paws – teeth

Those choppers seem overqualified for a diet of earthworms, but I suppose they know what they’re doing.

We left it in as-found condition, ready for recycling …

[Update: The consensus seems to be it’s a vole or shrew, not a mole. It’d be the biggest vole I’ve ever seen and “large shrew” seems oxymoronic, but the teeth are diagnostic. ]

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Craftsman Hedge Trimmer: Laying on of Hands Repair

It being the season for hacking down decorative grasses, our ancient Craftsman Hedge Trimmer woke up dead, a decade after I fixed its switch and predicted it’d be good for another decade.

After verifying the failure isn’t in the wall outlet or the extension cord, haul it to the Basement Laboratory Repair Wing, clamp the blade in the bench vise, remove a myriad screws, and pop the top:

Craftsman Hedge Trimmer - innards exposed
Craftsman Hedge Trimmer – innards exposed

I should have removed the screw in the extreme lower right corner and loosened the similar screw at the rear of the bottom plate; they’re two of the three machine screws engaging nuts embedded in the shell. Everything is greasy enough to let the nuts slide right out of the plastic and no harm was done, but that need not be so.

After poking around a bit and finding nothing obvious, I checked the resistance across the plug: open-circuit with the switch OFF and nearly shorted with the switch ON.

Huh.

Put the case back together with just enough screws to prevent heartache & confusion, unclamp the blade, plug into the bench outlet, discover it works fine again, reinstall the rest of the screws, and continue the mission:

Decorative grass bunches - early spring clearcut
Decorative grass bunches – early spring clearcut

We moved the Praying Mantis oothecae to nearby bushes for science!

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Dutchess Rail Trail: Beaver Lodge & Dam

A beaver family built their lodge next to the Dutchess Rail Trail:

Beaver Lodge - DCRT N of Golds Gym - 2020-02-23
Beaver Lodge – DCRT N of Golds Gym – 2020-02-23

It’s just to the right of the fence post, on the far side of the pond.

Dutchess County’s aerial survey in 2016 showed a dry-ish area west of the rail trail, with a culvert to the north:

Beaver Lodge - DCRT N of Golds Gym - 2016 CIR image
Beaver Lodge – DCRT N of Golds Gym – 2016 CIR image

We went back the next day and stopped at the culvert. Their dam spans the entire near side of the pond, upstream of the ditch (just above my hand) leading to the culvert:

Beaver Lodge and Dam - DCRT N of Golds Gym - 2020-02-25
Beaver Lodge and Dam – DCRT N of Golds Gym – 2020-02-25

The helmet camera pictures look west from the rail trail, with the lodge in the northernmost open area. The wide-angle camera lens exaggerates the distance, but the lodge is only about 35 feet from the fence.

A stand of birch trees near the lodge now looks like a combination buffet and construction yard. When beavers discover ferrocement, their structures will become much more obvious.

Go, beavers, go!

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Praying Mantis Ootheca

Several of this year’s praying mantises set up shop in the decorative grasses bracketing the front door:

Praying Mantis - brown wing covers - in grass
Praying Mantis – brown wing covers – in grass

We found their egg masses, formally called ootheca, attached to the stems in mid-October:

Praying Mantis egg mass A
Praying Mantis egg mass A

They feel like rigid urethane foam and seem eminently protective:

Praying Mantis egg mass B
Praying Mantis egg mass B

We’ll cut around the masses when it’s time to clear out the dead grass next spring. I was tempted to bring one inside, but dealing with a gazillion tiny mantises in a few months would be daunting.

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Monthly Image: Spider vs. Marmorated Stink Bug

Fortunately, Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs haven’t been as catastrophic as predicted when they arrived a few years ago, perhaps because native critters have learned to deal with them:

Spider vs. Marmorated Stink Bug
Spider vs. Marmorated Stink Bug

Looks like a week’s worth of spider chow!

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