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Archive for the 'Insects' Category

Red-winged blackbird dining out at the Spider Web Cafe

Red-winged blackbird eats bugs in web. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA.
1redwing web dave harper oakley

Insects caught in a spider web provide food for lots of other creatures besides the spider that spins the web. Like this hungry red-winged blackbird, for example. YUM! Free bugs!

All life is interconnected in one way or another. Even by bugs. Of course, next time the blackbird may eat the spider.  /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
Under: Insects, Red-winged blackbird, Spider web | No Comments »

The Aliens have landed … right outside my bathroom window!

Mantis on outside of bathroom window. Photo by Sharon Burt, Concord, CA
mantis sharon burt concord

The Aliens have landed …right outside my bathroom window!

I’ve been lucky enough to live in a neighborhood that is apparently “Happy Mantisland.” I’ve noticed them every year since we moved here 18 years ago. They are one of my favorite insects!
Sharon Burt, Concord

The praying mantis is an amazing predatory insect. It they were as big as, say, a Chihuahua, it wouldn’t be safe to go outside! /Gary

Posted on Monday, December 6th, 2010
Under: Insects, Preying mantis | No Comments »

Your backyard: Grass, trees, and beautiful moving things

cat and squirrel by John Campolo, Pleasanton, CA
cat squirr campolo

Hello Gary:
Two years ago I became permanently disabled due to Multiple Sclerosis caused fatigue. Since then I have become the home cook and I get to spend time in my backyard making friends and photographing them. Most people look at a backyard and see grass and trees, I see all the moving things in them.
John Campolo, Pleasanton

Hi John:
And such wonderful, moving things they are! Turn the page, dear readers, and enjoy a yardfull of John’s beautiful moving things … /Gary
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, December 10th, 2009
Under: Birds, Cats, hummingbirds, Insects, Robins, Squirrels | 4 Comments »

Ladybugs! Ladybugs! Fly away home! Millions of them, EVERYwhere!


Dear Gary:
I was performing my monthly volunteer work with the Mount Diablo Trail Crew yesterday when I came across a rather amazing sight. Thousands of ladybugs piled high on many plants and rocks.
The day was overcast and threatening to rain. The location was near lower Trail Through Time, south of the Rock City area.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, November 10th, 2008
Under: Insects, Ladybugs | No Comments »

Got ants in your pants? Don’t worry, you soon will!

In what sounds like a low budget horror film, voracious swarming ants that apparently arrived in Texas aboard a cargo ship are invading homes and yards across the Houston area.

The hairy, reddish-brown critters are know as “crazy raspberry ants” — crazy, because they wander erratically instead of marching in lines like normal ants, and “raspberry” after Tom Raspberry, an exterminator who fought them early on.

“They’re itty-bitty things about the size of fleas, and they’re just running everywhere,” said Patsy Morphew, who is constantly sweeping them off her patio and scooping them out of her pool by the cupful. “There’s just thousands and thousands of them.”
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 16th, 2008
Under: Fish, Insects, Invasive species, Spiders | No Comments »

SPAIN: Tough new law, restrictions for pit bulls & other “dangerous dogs”

A reader forwarded this little story from SUR, a newspaper in Southern Spain.


Law reiterates and clarifies dangerous dog restrictions
A. Nogues

“The new law also includes a long chapter devoted to the ownership of potentially dangerous dogs. In this section the Junta de Andalucia has included all the breeds listed in the national legislation (Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Rottweiler, Argentine Dogo, Fila Brasileiro, Tosa Inu and Akita Inu) and has added the Doberman.

“Furthermore the dangerous dog category can also be applied to any dog that has been trained to attack or that has been certified as potentially dangerous by a vet due to its weight, size and aggressive character.

“These animals will have to undergo a training course and must be walked on a lead of no more than one metre and wear a muzzle, says the regulation which also bans this type of dog from areas such as children’s playgrounds. More than one dog of this kind must not be walked by any one person at the same time and documents to prove the animal is correctly registered must be carried at all times.

“Owners of dogs classed as dangerous must obtain a license from their local Town Hall and register their pet on the Andalusian Animal Identification Register (RAIA) through authorized vets. The owner must be over the age of 18 and able-bodied, pass a psychological test, be free of convictions of serious offenses and take out a civil responsibility insurance policy with cover of at least 175,000 euros.” (That equals $266,017 U.S. dollars)

I did a little checking on the Internet and discovered that the dangerous dog regulations in the story above also contain some interesting laws for other types of “dangerous pets” in Southern Spain.

For example:
“Under the new system, large reptiles, poisonous insects and large primates will not be allowed in Andalucian households and people who flout the law could be hit with a fine of 115,000 euros ($174,811 U.S. dollars). People living in the region who already own such pets will be given a six-month period to take the forbidden animal to their local city hall and hand it over … “

Owners of dogs, snakes and other “interesting” pets would probably be wise not to share this little story with their local animal control department, humane society, or SPCA. You might give them some silly ideas. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, March 6th, 2008
Under: Animal Laws, Doberman, dogs, Insects, Pets, pit bull, Snakes | 12 Comments »

Frog hunting

Wednesday evening, at 9:45 p.m., it was still about 85 degrees in my backyard in Benicia. Yes, a hot day. Lois and I had just finished dinner and while I was clearing the table I spotted an unusual blob on the outside of one of the family room windows. As I was walking over for a closer look, the blob moved up the glass and gobbled an insect that had been attracted to the inside light. It was a treefrog.

Lois and I stood and watched the tiny amphibian (the size of a quarter) for a while as it wandered all around the outside of the window with its sticky feet, gobbling up leafhoppers, tiny moths, a mosquito and a small crane fly. Smart frog to take advantage of the lights to find its dinner.

I told Lois the frog was probably living in the cool depths of the star jasmine plant that covered one end of our back deck with its thick green leaves and lovely white flowers. One edge of the jasmine was about a foot away from the window and the frog. But when I thought about how hot it still was outside, I decided I’d better do something to contribute to the jasmine’s coolness. So I went outside, getting a mouth full of leafhoppers as I opened the sliding glass door, turned on the hose and gave the jasmine a good spray.

As I went back into the house, the now well-fed frog hopped back into the jasmine with a little splash.

Posted on Thursday, June 22nd, 2006
Under: Amphibians, Insects, Pacific treefrogs | No Comments »