Posts Tagged Wildlife

Stink Bug Haven

We hung a pine-cone wreath beside the back door (a.k.a. the only door we use), replacing a Welcome sign painted on a slate tile. Of course, the tile had long provided a sheltered spot against the house siding:

Marmorated Stink Bugs and Spiders

Marmorated Stink Bugs and Spiders

Reports from the garden suggest Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs aren’t as damaging as they once were, perhaps because something has developed a taste for them.

We hope whatever it might be eats well this year.



Paper Wasp Nest

I spotted a defunct paper wasp (or, more likely, a hornet) nest on a lawn under a tree:

Paper Wasp  Nest - side view
Paper Wasp Nest – side view

Call it basketball sized, large enough to raise plenty of wasps:

Paper Wasp Nest - end view
Paper Wasp Nest – end view

I vastly prefer encountering those critters after their season is over …


Three Dead Mice

The rodents around here have great trouble with outdoor bowls, but this trio ended in a deep six gallon bucket next to the garage workbench:

Three Dead Mice

Three Dead Mice

Even though mice don’t seem like cuddly creatures, they ended their days snuggled together; we’ll just ignore the cannibalism thing.

Heck of a way to go, even for rodents. I renewed the steel wool blocking a gap in the garage door.


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Ants in My Drawers

Our Compact Edition of the OED doesn’t get much use these days, but Mary needed a magnifier for a class on quilt judging and the OED has one that seemed just about right:

OED Magnifier Box in drawer

OED Magnifier Box in drawer

The magnifier comes in a removable box fitted neatly into the drawer, revealing a surprise underneath:

OED Magnifier drawer - plastic ant

OED Magnifier drawer – plastic ant

A detail view:

OED Magnifier drawer - plastic ant - detail

OED Magnifier drawer – plastic ant – detail

It’s a plastic ant from a bag in the Kiddie Surplus box my Shop Assistant grew up with and a pleasant reminder of long-ago days, carefully placed where only I’d ever see it.

Of course, it’s still there …


Small Stone Moving By Itself

A decorative snail emerged from within a large garden lettuce:

Snail - looking left

Snail – looking left

It seemed interested in its new surroundings:

Snail - looking right

Snail – looking right

And eventually set off on an adventure:

Snail - escaping

Snail – escaping

We returned it to the Great Outdoors, far from the garden goodies, and wished it well.

Sometimes, having eyes mounted on stalks would be advantageous, but I’m unwilling to give up opposable thumbs to get ’em.



Everybody Wants to be a Star

The Wzye Pan camera overlooking the bird feeders attracted the attention of a Downy Woodpecker:


Screenshot_20181029-112307 - Downy Woodpecker at the Pan

Screenshot_20181029-112307 – Downy Woodpecker at the Pan

The camera sits on a “guest” branch of the house network, fenced off from the rest of the devices, because Pi-Hole showed it relentlessly nattering with its Chinese servers:

Blocked Domains - Wyze iotcplatform

Blocked Domains – Wyze iotcplatform

In round numbers, the Pan camera tried to reach those (blocked) iotcplatform domains every 30 seconds around the clock, using a (permitted) lookup to check Internet connectivity. Pi-Hole supplied the latter from its cache and squelched the former, but enough is enough.

I haven’t tested for traffic to hardcoded dotted-quad IP addresses not requiring DNS lookups through the Pi-Hole. Scuttlebutt suggests the camera firmware includes binary blobs from the baseline Xaiomi/Dafang cameras, so there’s no telling what’s going on in there.

The Xiaomi-Dafang Hacks firmware doesn’t phone home to anybody, but requires router port forwarding and a compatible RTSP client on the remote end. Isolating it from the rest of the LAN must suffice until I can work out that mess; I assume the camera has already made my WiFi passwords public knowledge.

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Monthly Image: Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp Nest

The side of our house seems to attract Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasps during nesting season.

One pair of wasps built this impressive structure behind the patio door, beside the bathroom window:

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp Nest - side view

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp Nest – side view

The female wasp built six tubes over the course of an August week, carrying blobs of mud the size of her head and abdomen from sources about 30 seconds away (1 minute round trip). Each blob produces half of one serration around the tube, with a seam running down the middle, and requires 20 seconds to smooth into place. We got tired just watching her!

Each tube has many compartments, each containing a wasp larva and a paralyzed spider, with a mud cap inside the end:

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp Nest - bottom view B

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp Nest – bottom view B

We watched the wasps attack, sting, and remove spiders of a specific size from the corners of our window frames.

The young wasps in the innermost tube may not make it out alive, because they must chew through at least one outer tube before flying away:

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp Nest - bottom view A

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp Nest – bottom view A

Perhaps layering the outer tubes around a central tube makes for a more compact and durable nest, with the possible sacrifice of offspring in the center.

The new wasps will likely emerge next spring.