Squash Frog

Mary persuaded the squash vine to run along the top of the garden fence, where it would get good sun, stay out from underfoot, and produce what we call aerosquash:

Tree frog on squash - overview
Tree frog on squash – overview

That bright green spot is a misplaced tree frog:

Tree frog on squash - detail
Tree frog on squash – detail

Well, maybe it’s the same frog we’ve seen elsewhere; it’s hard to tell with tree frogs.

Not everything green is froglike, though:

Green stink bug on squash
Green stink bug on squash

That one got dealt with … harshly.

Red Oaks Mill Eagle

We spotted a large bird on a walk to the Red Oaks Mill dam:

Red Oaks Mill Eagle - A
Red Oaks Mill Eagle – A

Despite the crappy image (Google Pixel 6a, digitally zoomed as tight as it’ll go), it’s a second-year juvenile Bald Eagle. It followed ahead of us along Rt 376, landing atop successive utility poles as we walked toward the intersection:

Red Oaks Mill Eagle - B
Red Oaks Mill Eagle – B

It sometimes perched on the (presumably) live primary wires, so a few kV of electric field doesn’t ruffle its feathers enough to worry about.

Its duties included keeping an eye on us down by the creek:

Red Oaks Mill Eagle - C
Red Oaks Mill Eagle – C

It eventually decided we needed no further supervision:

Red Oaks Mill Eagle - D
Red Oaks Mill Eagle – D

Earlier this year it swooped along our driveway and landed atop a utility pole in our yard, causing great concern among the songbirds and rodents.

Having an eagle in the neighborhood seems like a good sign …

Tree Frog Season

This year brings an abundance of tree frogs:

Tree frog - on dahlia stem
Tree frog – on dahlia stem

Despite the snappy green color, they’re Gray Treefrogs:

Tree frog - on patio step
Tree frog – on patio step

Their camouflage works better in the wild than atop a trash can lid:

Tree frog - on trash can lid
Tree frog – on trash can lid

They are much smaller than you’d expect from their voices in the night:

Tree frog - on trash can lid - thumb for scale
Tree frog – on trash can lid – thumb for scale

We think the drought brings them closer to the house in search of water, as Mary collects rainwater in the trash cans where the frogs easily walk up & down the inside surfaces.

Onion Maggot Flies vs. Sticky Traps: Round 2

Mary decided the second round of sticky traps had collected enough Onion Maggot Flies (and other detritus) to warrant replacement, so this season will have three sets of cards.

The two sides of each card after about a month in the garden:

  • VCCG Onion Card A - 2022-07-17
  • VCCG Onion Card B - 2022-07-17
  • VCCG Onion Card C - 2022-07-17
  • VCCG Onion Card D - 2022-07-17
  • VCCG Onion Card E - 2022-07-17
  • VCCG Onion Card F - 2022-07-17

There are many flies that look (to me) like Onion Maggot Flies, in contrast with the first round of cards which had far fewer flies after about six weeks in the bed.

Some could be Cabbage Maggot Flies, but my fly ID hand is weak.

One of the frames screwed to a fence post suffered a non-fatal mishap, so I made and deployed a seventh trap. We’re pretty sure the garden has enough flies to go around.

Lawn Chair Re-strapping: Countdown Hold

I planned to replace the vinyl straps on our set of (salvaged) lawn / patio chairs and made a pair of rivets for one long-missing strap:

Lawn chair strap rivets
Lawn chair strap rivets

The overall project is on indefinite hold, as a Steel-blue Cricket Hunter (*) has decided at least one of the chairs is an ideal place to start a family:

Lawn chair - wasp nest under construction
Lawn chair – wasp nest under construction

The patio under the chair is littered with blades of grass and twigs that didn’t quite fit through the 5 mm vent hole in the tube, but that long stem went in just fine:

Lawn chair - wasp nest grass stem
Lawn chair – wasp nest grass stem

We have seen the wasp airlifting crickets near the chair, so provisioning has begun. The cricket seemed not only larger than the hole, but also larger than the wasp; we assume the wasp knows what she’s doing.

The new wasp will hatch this year, pupate over the winter, then hatch and emerge next summer, but I plan to replace the straps after the construction season ends.

I have no idea how to clean out whatever’s accumulating in there …

(*) I learned them as Steel-blue Cricket Killer, but the crickets are just paralyzed, not completely dead.

Onion Maggot Flies vs. Sticky Traps: Round 1

We deployed six sticky traps in the onion patch immediately after planting in late April and replaced the cards in mid-June. The first set of cards collected a considerable number of what resemble, to my untrained eye, onion maggot flies and the onion plants remain healthy:

  • VCCG Onion Card A
  • VCCG Onion Card B
  • VCCG Onion Card C
  • VCCG Onion Card D
  • VCCG Onion Card E
  • VCCG Onion Card F

Each image shows both sides of a single card.

The cards sit a foot above the shredded leaf mulch and I managed to drop at least one of the cards while extracting it from the cage, but they all have plenty of onion maggot flies in addition to the random debris.

The cards inside their cages have not accumulated larger insects like honeybees / moths / butterflies, although the tiniest specks are definitely mini-critters along the beetle / gnat / aphid / mosquito axis.

Unlike last year, the second set of cards will remain in place until harvest to maintain continuous pressure on the fly population.

If you’re really interested, the dozen original camera images have more detail.

Paracord Hot Knife

An upcoming project calls for cutting dozens of lengths from a spool of 550 (pound tensile strength) all-nylon paracord, which means I must also heat-seal the ends. Cold-cutting paracord always produces wildly fraying ends, so I got primal on an old soldering iron tip:

Paracord cutting - flattened soldering iron tip
Paracord cutting – flattened soldering iron tip

Bashed into a flattish blade, it does a Good Enough job of hot-cutting paracord and sealing the end in one operation:

Paracord cutting - results
Paracord cutting – results

Setting the iron to 425 °C = 800 °F quickly produces reasonably clean and thoroughly sealed cut ends.

Obviously, I need more practice.

Yes, I tried laser cutting the paracord. Yes, it works great, makes a perfectly flat cut, and heat-seals both ends, but it also makes no sense whatsoever without a fixture holding a dozen or so premeasured lengths in a straight line. No, I’m not doing that.