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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Getting to Know the European polecat

These are little critters that look rather cute. The funny thing is that they are fairly well-known in the US, though not in the wild state. What we call polecats aren’t actually polecats. The European polecat (Mustela putorius) is a member of the mustelid or weasel family and it is commonly found throughout Europe and the United Kingdom. In the case of the UK, they were nearly eradicated but numbers are on the rebound. The animals are often referred to as a ‘Fitch’ there. Like other members of the mustelids, this animal is a carnivore and because it is, it can be quite helpful to man. European polecat appearance The polecats have a body that is typical of the weasel family, being long, built close to the ground and cylindrically shaped. The average length of the animal is between one and two feet and it has a tail that is a little over seven inches long, often with a dark tip. These animals normally weight about three pounds. Males are usually bigger than females, especially in weight. European polecats can have quite a few variations in color, but they are most often rich brown with lighter markings around the head and face. It is common for the fur around the eyes to be dark, giving the animal somewhat of a cute bandit-like appearance, much like raccoons. The fur is course, unlike many members of the family, such as the mink. Because of this, the animal hasn’t been extensively trapped, as Continue Reading →

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What Do Wild Coyotes Eat?

Amazing as it seems, even though we know a great deal about coyotes, there is a huge amount of misinformation floating around about them. A lot of these exaggerated ideas that people have about coyotes revolve around what they eat. Of course, a large part of this is that they belong to the canine family. Canines include the familiar domesticated dogs, as well as wolves, foxes, wild dogs and coyotes. When people think of wolves, they often think of a carnivorous predatory pack animal, killing and eating whatever they need to, in order to survive. This isn’t very far off the mark. Coyotes look a great deal like a little wolf, except that their snouts tend to be longer and more narrow, while their legs are more slender. Thus, the common conception is that coyotes eat the same things wolves eat and they hunt in the same way. Indeed, coyotes are carnivorous predators. Most of their food is prey that they’ve hunted and killed. Mostly, the prey animals that they eat are mice, voles, squirrels, lemmings, mice, rabbits, hares, birds, bird eggs, usually of ground nesting birds, reptiles and even insects. However, this is far from all they will eat. These animals have very little problem with eating carrion, including road kill and even meat that is already turning rancid and is spoiled. It has a strong enough constitution that this food doesn’t seem to bother them. They will even eat a dead porcupine and know that they need to Continue Reading →

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