Interesting and Simple Way to Catch Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers are a bane for home gardeners in most locations and they are worse in some areas than they are in others. There are many species, but the problem is that they eat vegetation, such as that found in the garden and flowerbeds. They have a voracious appetite, too. The tiny grasshoppers that hatch out from the eggs that are laid in the fall just under the surface of the soil tend to grow rapidly and in species that have wings, the grasshoppers can descend on a garden in the hundreds, literally eating the plants to the ground. When they reach this stage, when they can become migratory and move on after decimating a crop, they are commonly referred to as locusts. Technically, these aren’t locusts, they are grasshoppers, but it makes little difference. They can cause a huge amount of damage in a short amount of time. The news isn’t entirely bleak. Many kinds of spiders eat the small grasshoppers, more of the little ones are preyed upon by predatory wasps and there are other beneficial insects that will eat baby grasshoppers. Frogs and toads, lizards and snakes also take a fair share of the hoppers. However, one of the biggest predators for grasshoppers is birds. The feathered friends can become fat and healthy on a diet of grasshoppers. This includes domesticated chickens and ducks.  For this reason, many people would prefer catching the grasshoppers and feeding them to their poultry, rather than using poisons to kill the insects, Continue Reading →

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The Sweat Bee is a Powerful Pollinator

A very large number of people know that there is a difference between bees and wasps. It is safe to say that most people probably know that honey comes from bees and not wasps. People also tend to know that bees are very important pollinators in the wild, gardens, orchards and commercial farms. However, when people think of bees, they normally only think of honey bees. This is very far from the only bee species and the sweat bee is a great example. Actually, there is a large number of species of sweat bees. These insects belong to the family called Halictidae and though there can be a lot of variation between species, they share the trait that they are strongly attracted to the various salts in human sweat, hence the common name. Like other bees, though, they will usually sting if they are angry or threatened. Still, the sting of sweat bees is usually much less painful than the sting of honey bees. While honey bees form large colonies or ‘hives’, sweat bees are much more varied. Some sweat bees do form colonies. Others are solitary, usually burrowing into the dirt. The farther north the sweat bee species is, the more likely it is to be solitary.  Some produce honey, although usually not nearly in the amounts that honey bees produce, while others don’t produce honey. They can also differ a lot in appearance. Some species of sweat bees have a metallic sheen and can look more green and Continue Reading →

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Benefits of Wasps in and around Gardens

  Many people have rather painful memories of wasps. They can bite from the front end and repeatedly sting from the other, since most don’t lose the stinger when they use it. People acquainted with yellow-jackets have probably been subjected to the reminder that wasps are often best left alone. For the home gardener, though, wasps can be a great insect to have around the garden. Bees and wasps Though bees and wasps are similar, they aren’t the same creature. The coloring can be much alike, but they are still not the same. Most species of each do tend to have hives of one sort or another. The number of individuals in the hives of either can be large. Some wasps and bees are solitary and don’t produce large hives or colonies. Still, the point is that wasps aren’t the same as bees. They are different insects. Pollination When people think of flower or plant pollination, they often think of bees. Indeed, bees are important pollinators, spreading pollen particles from one flower to another. What some gardeners might find interesting is that wasps often also pollinate flowers. They may not be as proficient at producing honey, however pollen and nectar are rich energy sources and many species of wasps take advantage of it. In areas where there aren’t many bees, wasps may even do the majority of the needed pollination. Predatory habits A great number of wasp species are predatory, particularly on invertebrates like insects and spiders. They tend to be Continue Reading →

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How to Tame a Wild Bobcat

Everywhere I’ve lived, there have been bobcats living near home. They are common, though not seen all that often. I’ve also written about them before. Bobcats are totally gorgeous felines. Their fur is usually tawny to grayish in color, with spots or elongated markings, and in the wild, this cat often grows double the size of a very large house cat. It should never be forgotten that they are wild animals. However, there are ways to tame bobcats. Bobcat age One of the top considerations is how old the bobcat is. Even young ones that are only a month and a half old are likely to scratch and hiss at first and their claws and teeth are quite sharp. The older they become, the harder it becomes to tame them. Even older animals can be tamed, though, with enough patience. Bobcats require the same basic things that any feline would need. Physically, those needs are something to eat and drink, and shelter. It goes well beyond that, naturally. Like most other kittens, as they grow, they need attention and love. There are many people who believe that love is a human emotion and that we are simply imagining its importance for animals. They obviously haven’t observed cats very closely if they believe this. Mother cats, bobcats included, lavish attention on the young. The attention and love is almost constant as long as the kitten is growing up. Love and attention is a key for taming bobcats of any age. The Continue Reading →

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About the Northern Pike Fish

One of the most sought after game fish, because of its ferocity and flavor, is the pike. It is also known as a northern pike, jackfish or northern. This is a highly predatory fresh water fish that can get quite large. It lives in the north, so many people may not know much about this game fish. Pike (Esox lucius) are found in the northern United States, Canada, the UK, northern Europe, Russia and Asia. It inhabits rivers and lakes. Pike size This fish grows large. The average length is just a little less than four feet and it can grow as long as five feet long. The world record pike caught by tackle came out of a lake in Germany in 1986, weighing 55 pounds, though there are records of a pike caught in Ireland that weighed 93 pounds. The fish that was caught in Ireland was caught in nets, rather than on fishing tackle. The state record for pike caught in Montana is almost four feet long and 40 pounds. Pike appearance The pike looks similar to a muskellunge or musky, which is a related fish. They have a long, powerful body, with the dorsal fin locate far back near the caudal fin. The head is long and tapered, with the bottom jaw being longer than the top. The powerful mouth is equipped with multiple rows of sharp teeth, rather like some sharks. The color is usually dark green, with spots. Pike behavior A pike is both a very Continue Reading →

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The Differences Between Garter Snakes and Water Snakes

  In the United States, and the rest of America, garter snakes and water snakes may be easily confused with each other. Both snakes are common, nonvenomous, growing up to between two and five-feet when they become mature. Each is found throughout a wide range in the United States, Canada and Mexico and they often occupy similar areas. In some species, their coloring and markings may even appear quite similar. However, there are several differences between them. The garter snakes belong to the genus Thamnophis. There are almost 30 species of garter snakes. The water snakes are in the genus Nerodia, and include about 10 known species. Both garter snakes and water snakes include many subspecies. Species and subspecies are sometimes categorized differently by different organizations. It should be noted that while anacondas and some kinds of boas and pythons often live in and around water, none are water snakes or garter snakes. Garter snakes have markings that resemble a garter belt, hence the name. They usually have one or three stripes running along the length of their body with checkered markings between the stripes. Garter snakes are usually more slender for their length than are water snakes. Water snakes are often brown or dark green in color, with markings of black, brown, or yellow. They have thicker, heavier bodies for their length than do garter snakes. With both water snakes and garter snakes, though, markings may be faded and blurred, making it more difficult to tell the difference between Continue Reading →

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Non-poisonous Flea Killer for Cats and Dogs

  One problem that most dog and cat owners usually have to deal with sooner or later is fleas. A lot of money is spent every year on flea collars, dips, sprays and shampoos. There are a few problems with these. First, they are expensive. Flea collars often cost $10-15 each, for example. Second, they aren’t very effective. If there is an infestation, collars don’t work well and shampoos need to be used every three days, since it only takes that long for flea eggs to hatch. Third, most of these contain pyrethrin, which are poisonous to the pets. Pyrethrin is a natural substance that comes from a particular kind of chrysanthemum and though it will kill fleas, it is harmful to cats and dogs, particularly cats. Unfortunately, fleas are also harmful to the pets, too. In fact, one kind of worms that cats often have comes from eating cat fleas that carry the worms. This isn’t the only problem, of course. There are diseases the fleas can carry, including bubonic plague, and in a particularly bad infestation, the fleas can actually drink so much of the pet’s blood that the animal can become anemic. This is particularly bad for kittens, which don’t have a lot of blood to begin with. Pyrethrin is definite a bad thing to use on kittens, too, as it could kill them. Thankfully, there is a flea killer that isn’t poisonous. It works well, it is just as natural and organic as pyrethrin without the hazards Continue Reading →

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Getting to Know the Pine Martin

Have you ever seen a pine marten? Pine martens are nifty little critters. They are closely related to weasels, minks, badgers and ferrets, they are fun to watch and martens are not especially afraid of people, though they are secretive and are not often seen. They have been hunted and trapped for their fur, however, and in some places, they still are. Marten diet Like other members of the weasel family, pine martens are carnivores. Their main food is virtually any small rodent they can catch. As it happens, they are very talented at catching their prey, too. Still, they will also take insects, lizards, snakes, an occasional amphibian and they will even eat grains and fruits on occasion. This creature is built long and close to the ground. Because of this, they can easily navigate the burrow of a ground squirrel or similar prey. The tail isn’t as long as the body, and isn’t greatly bushy. The body is amazingly supple and flexible, though. Marten appearance The coloration of a pine marten varies from a warm, rich brown with some yellow to grayish, and this partly depends on the season and the area they are living in. Pine martens have a white belly. The fur is quite dense, especially in winter. Color variations often occur between summer and winter. This is protective coloration and also helps the animals elude detection by their prey, as a brown pelt blends in with the forest background in the summer and a grayish Continue Reading →

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