Posts Tagged Wildlife

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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Chipmunk Fatality

This chipmunk didn’t die in bed, either:

Chipmunk - tail segment - side
Chipmunk – tail segment – side

Similar to the previous example, one of the hawks surely dismantled the tail to get at the good parts, although we haven’t seen any gibbage.

Looking into the end, you can see where the next segment would attach:

Chipmunk - tail segment - end
Chipmunk – tail segment – end

Somewhere nearby, there’s a recently vacated nest with a pantry full of carefully chosen seeds and nuts, just waiting for another critter to move in …

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Vole Fatality

Voles apparently live only a few months, so this one may have run out of gas while crossing the driveway:

Vole - dead on driveway
Vole – dead on driveway

Or it just caught a heart attack?

It definitely wasn’t playing possum; nobody can lie still with ants up their nose.

It had vanished when we returned from our afternoon ride, so somebody further up the food chain also noticed it. As my buddy dBm puts it, “In Nature, nothing goes to waste.”

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Praying Mantis vs. Bumblebee

The Butterfly Bush outside the living room continues to attract flying insects, but, with the arrival of this year’s bumper crop of Praying Mantises, it has become something of a killing field.

If I hadn’t seen this, I wouldn’t have believed it:

Mantis vs Bumblebee - grapple
Mantis vs Bumblebee – grapple

Perhaps grabbing the bumblebee at the tip of the abdomen neutralizes the sting, but I only saw the flash of motion, not the actual capture.

The mantis changed her (?) grip several times while removing various accessories:

Mantis vs Bumblebee - disassembly
Mantis vs Bumblebee – disassembly

Although a bee’s leg may not seem edible, she chewed through them like Pocky.

Minus most of the bits and pieces, serious eating commenced:

Mantis vs Bumblebee - lunch
Mantis vs Bumblebee – lunch

Having watched several insects go through this process, the mantis proceeds from the head downward, eventually squeezing the abdomen like a tube of toothpaste.

A mantis can eat a bumblebee in about twenty minutes, from capture to discarding the empty husk. After a few minutes of body maintenance, ranging from leg cleaning to eye scraping, she begins waiting for the next meal to arrive …

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Suet Feeder Bracket Painting

The 4 inch column on the rear patio holds a bracket, probably intended for a welcoming sign or some such, which keeps the suet feeder mostly out of reach. It desperately wanted a coat of black paint to match the railing, so I stripped the old paint and applied Evapo-Rust:

Suet Feeder Bracket Hardware - Evapo-Rust bath
Suet Feeder Bracket Hardware – Evapo-Rust bath

The dark areas are iron oxide being converted to loose iron sulfide, which is what Evapo-Rust does for a living.

One could, of course, simply buy new eye screws & nuts, but we’re deep into historical preservation around here.

An hour of soaking and a few minutes of wire-wheeling got everything down to bare metal, ready for some rattle-can primer and black paint action:

Suet Feeder Bracket Hardware - installed
Suet Feeder Bracket Hardware – installed

It’s a version of what Eks calls a “used car finish”: high shine over deep pits.

Discussion of why one should not paint threaded parts will be unavailing; in this case, paint serves as permanent threadlock. I re-spritzed the eyescrews & nuts after getting everything aligned, so as to produce a lovely two-coat over-all finish.

The birds won’t care one way or the other and, as long as the paint lasts, neither will we.

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Funnel Weaver Spider Season

Two Funnel Weaver spiders spun their webs across diagonal corners of the garden tool rack and appear to be peacefully sharing the bounty attracted by nearby lights.

The one on the left vanishes instantly into its funnel, deep inside the corner post, nearly every time we step onto the patio:

Funnel Weaver spider - tool rack left
Funnel Weaver spider – tool rack left

The other spider worked around a stick emerging from its refuge:

Funnel Weaver spider - tool rack right
Funnel Weaver spider – tool rack right

But it’s doing all right:

Funnel Weaver spider - tool rack right - detail
Funnel Weaver spider – tool rack right – detail

Their less adventurous compadres build webs on the plaintains festooning what might be called our lawn, making me feel awful while mowing in these months. I hope the mower’s vibrations drive them deep into the grass before it roars overhead, but I’ll never know.

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Hawk vs. Praying Mantis

A young Coopers Hawk swooped across the yard, landed on a branch, and proceeded to dismantle something yummy, scattering little bits on the driveway below. One piece fluttered down like a feather, but, after the hawk flew off, we found this:

Praying Mantis - wing
Praying Mantis – wing

It wasn’t a feather, it was an entire wing!

A few feet away, we found another:

Praying Mantis - wing parts
Praying Mantis – wing parts

Not that there was any doubt, but these parts clinched the identification:

Praying Mantis - foreleg and wing parts
Praying Mantis – foreleg and wing parts

Some days earlier, we admired eight Praying Mantises on the decorative grasses and bushes out front. Perhaps it was this one:

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

Or this one, a few feet away:

Praying Mantis - brown wing covers - on bush
Praying Mantis – brown wing covers – on bush

We don’t know what, if any, the difference between brown and green wing covers might indicate. Age? Gender? Attitude? Skill level?

It’s a food chain out there!

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