Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dividing Hostas

Q: When's the best time to divide hostas?

A: You may start new plants by dividing clumps in early spring. Otherwise, clumps may remain undisturbed indefinitely.

The above information was obtained from The Old Farmer's Almanac

Robin McNuggets

We noticed an American Robin building her nest in early spring. She chose a bush next to our compost pile. This wasn't too bad a location, however, every time I was in the area she would get nervous, fly off the nest and carry on until I left.

We kept a close eye on the nest and one day noticed three little heads popping up looking for something to eat. The picture shows one of these little guys. Emilie was SO excited and checked in on them often.

When we checked on them the other day there was no one home;the nest was empty. They were far to young to have left on there own. Something was wrong! Sadly, we noticed pieces of these little guys scattered beneath and around the bush. Apparently something got into the nest, removed these little "robin mcnuggets" and ate them or ate parts of them and left other parts... I'm not sure what critter would have done this -any idea?!

Sunday, May 21, 2006 posting - American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I could not have said this better myself -
Thank you TWO CAN ANNE!

Lammy - RIP

On our recent trip into Boston we came across this cute little Sheila lying in the center of Kilbey Street. I'm guessing she was dropped inadvertently by a child and went unnoticed. Sadly, I must report this as a road kill statistic. It was obvious she was run over by a vehicle and was in pretty bad shape when we came upon her. There was nothing we could do, alas...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Road Kill - Averted

So we're driving to my dad's house on Sunday afternoon when we see a Painted Turtle on the edge of the road contemplating a mad dash or as close to a mad dash as a turtle can have to the other side. She was quite large as painted turtles go so I'd guess she was an old timer.

I banged a quick u-turn but got stopped finishing my turn because of a line of traffic. I thought she was a goner a she began to cross. Fortunately the traffic passed and I was able to pull along side her, stopping any other cars from squashing her, and JoAnne jumped out to grab her.

As JoAnne was just about to pick her up when I yelled out to her, "be careful she doesn't pee on you" and let me tell you had I not warned her she (JoAnne) would have gotten wet. After JoAnne thought the peeing stopped she got back in the truck and handed me the turtle and surprise she let loose (the turtle not JoAnne) another piddle, this one inside but luckily on a pile of napkin. I'm thinking this peeing thing is some sort of defensive mechanism, after all who in there right minds would continue to hold onto a peeing turtle...

We drove to a nice pond just a few miles away, one that Emilie could get out of the truck at and help me let the turtle go in. I guess she was happy as she quickly swam away. Emilie was too :-))

Boston Clock Tower

We spent this past Saturday afternoon of Memorial Day in Boston.

Here are three pictures taken of the same buildin from three different angles.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Blue Bird Oops!

We went Boston's Faneuil Hall Market on Saturday. It was a beautiful day and the city was full of people taking in the day.

We were lucky enough to find a parking space, on a side street, just a couple blocks from Faneuil Hall. On our walk we came across an unusual site - a dead bird. The bird apparently flew right into the side of the building. The building was what looked to be made of reflective glass, i.e. mirrors. I'm guessing this guy didn't know what hit him or rather what he hit. A bird dying because it flew into the side of a building probably isn't too unusual. However, what was unusual here, in my opinion, was the type of bird it was...a Bluebird!! What are the odds? A Bluebird in the city? A country bird? Perhaps that explains what happened...

Here's the unlucky fella -

Here's the building he flew into -

Click here for my previous Blue Bird post

Thursday, May 24, 2007

White Pine Aphids

Cinara strobi

I noticed this mass of tiny black bugs on one of my smaller Eastern White Pine trees. As you can see in this picture, there is a large black Carpenter Ant with them too. There are (4) of these Eastern White Pines in a row, each approximately 5' tall, and these bugs are only on one. Coincidently, they're on the one tree that doesn't appear to be doing too good. I believe that the aphids themselves are attracted to trees that are already weakened and stressed versus causing the issues. However, young trees, recently transplanted trees (which ours are) or individual branches on large trees may be killed.

I believe that these black bugs are White Pine Aphids. Aphids suck plant juices from foliage and bark of young twigs and stems. Needles will turn yellow and may curl and become deformed. Aphids also excrete large quantities of honeydew. Honeydew is simply the sap that is sucked in through the beak and only partially digested and excreted. This honeydew is sweet and sticky and often forms on the branches, foliage and twigs upon which sooty molds grow. Ants commonly feed on these sweet excretions. Certain species of ants are often seen scraping the outer bark over which aphid secretions have formed.

I have used the garden hose to spray these critters off but they don't all get removed with this method. I think I will resort to something stronger, something that will kill them so they don't return. I also plan on babying this tree in the hope of saving it and making it stronger, i.e. fertilizer, water - general TLC.

Bug Identification

What type of bug is this - Milkweed bug or Boxelder bug?

We've had these pests in our yard, on our house and everywhere else on our property. We'll find them inside and outside. Big ones and small ones. Alone and in groups (sounds like the beginning of a Dr. Seuss book). In the fall they seem to congregate in masses on the south side of the house, where it's the sunniest. Other than being a nuisance they don't appear to do any damage or cause any problems.

Around this time of the year you can find their eggs, which are red, in small clusters on the fence, posts, swing set etc and they make a crunch sound when squashed...

After substantial research (kinda) I've determined this to be a Boxelder bug. This also means that the trees I thought to be Ash are really...what?! Boxelder Acer negundo, (A-ser ne-GOON-do) of course!

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the two:

Animal Terminology

I came across some interesting information on The Old Farmer's Almanac website this morning regarding Animal Terminology and Animal Collectives

Here's a sample of Animal Terminology:

Animal: Ass
Male: Jack, jackass
Female: Jenny
Young: Foal
Collective: Pace, drove, herd

Here's a sampling of Animal Collectives:
  1. army of caterpillers, frogs
  2. bale of turtles
  3. band of gorillas
  4. bed of clams, oysters
  5. brood of jellyfishb
  6. usiness of flies
  7. cartload of monkeys

Solomon's Seal II (Polygonatum biflorum)

The Solomon Seal have begun flowering and are doing very well. You can see here that some of the buds have opened with more just waiting to burst open!

See an earlier post of mine on our Solomon Seal.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Double Daylily

2006 Orange Double Daylily

In anticipation of the 2007 spring daylily blossoms, which is right around the corner, here is a picture of a double daylily of ours from last year. I'm not too sure how common or uncommon this is but hope to see it again this year!

I'm Thirsty

Funny story! True story!

My 5 year old daughter comes up to me the other day and says -

Emilie: Dad, I have has a secret to tell you but you can't tell anyone.
Me: OK
Emilie: I opened the door to the rabbit cage...
Me: Umm, OK
Emilie: and I stuck my head inside the cage...
Me: You better not have!
Emilie: and I drank some of her water...
Me: What!
Emilie: I drank some of her water.
Me: Why?!
Emilie: Mom put a new water bottle in and I wanted to try it.
Me: What?! Why?!?!
Emilie: Its OK she (the rabbit) didn't scratch me and it tasted good.
Me: Now sporting the ole deer-in-the-head-look and at a complete loss for words.

This particular cage sits on top of two turned-over recycling bins and is at a perfect height for Emilie. She is constantly opening the cage door and patting the rabbit, talking to her, feeding her dandelions or grass or whatever she can pick from the yard. She's been told many, many times to not open the door.

I was bothered more by her sticking her head inside the cage than I was her drinking the water. The water bottle is clean (as clean can be inside a rabbit cage), as is the water. I was more concerned about Emilie getting scratched or bitten. She is a good and gentle rabbit but she is an animal just the same and you just never know.

This has been explained to Emilie, I just hope she understands and doesn't do it again. After all, it's a pain in the butt to have to keep filling up those water bottles...hehehe

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Here is a picture of a slug. I'm not sure what kind this is but they're abundant this time of the year and can be found in cool, damp places. This particular dude was found under the piece of tin Emilie and I flip when looking for snakes at grampy's house. I remember as a kid putting salt, regular table salt, on these critters are they attempted to cross the driveway - they didn't like that too much.

Slugs are best described as snails without shells. They are a type of mollusk, related to clams and oysters. Slugs are soft bodied, generally brownish or grayish, with eye stalks. They vary in size from 1/4 inch to two inches or longer. Slugs leave a silvery slime trail that they secrete as they move. This slim is also very difficult to get off your fingers and hands, if for some reason you chose to pick one up.

Slugs use file-like mouthparts to rasp and chew plant tissue. Because of their mouthparts, they create irregularly shaped holes. Feeding damage can be cosmetic; however extensive feeding can result in plant stress or even death

Here is a picture containing the anatomy of a slug:

Trapping and handpicking helps lower slug numbers. To be effective, traps must be checked and cleaned out several times a week (more when slugs are abundant). Be sure to put out enough traps to adequately protect the entire garden.

You can trap slugs by setting out several flat boards, shingles or damp newspapers. Check under these traps the next morning and kill any slugs that are hiding. You can drown slugs in soapy water, crush them, or spray them with household ammonia diluted to a 5 percent or 10 percent solution. Traps containing beer or other fermenting food are popular. Sink jars, cans, pans or similar containers into the ground so the top is level with the ground. Pour beer or a water and yeast mixture (one teaspoon of yeast to three ounces of water) or similar fermenting liquid into the container. Slugs are attracted to the odors, fall in and drown.

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley 2007

Here is a vase of freshless picked Lily of the Valley, the first of 2007.

They're sitting on the kitchen counter and boy do they smell great. Their smell is so strong that you can smell them as you walk up the basement stairs, which lead to the kitchen.

We planted them the year we moved in and they've really taken over and spread nicely.

This is a picture of our 1 pink Lily of the Valley plant. It's nestled amoungst all the others. We're hoping it too will spread to produce more pink plants. I don't know if these are rare but they sure are hard to come by.

Beyond the Sunset

Beyond The Sunset

Should you go first and I remain to walk the road alone
I'll live in memory's garden dear with happy days we've known
In spring I'll watch for roses red when fades the lilacs blue
And in early fall when brown leaves call I'll catch a glimpse of you

Should you go first and I remain to finish with the scroll
No lessening shadows shall ever creep in to make this life seem droll
We've known so much of happiness we've had our cup of joy
And memory is one gift of God that death cannot destroy

Beyond the sunset oh blissful morning when with our Savior heaven is begun
Earth's toiling ended oh glorious dawning beyond the sunset when day is done

Should you go first and I remain for battles to be fought
Each thing you've touched along the way will be a hallowed spot
I'll hear your voice I'll see your smile though blindly I may grope
The memory of your helping hand will buoy me on with hope

Should you go first and I remain one thing I'll have you do
Walk slowly down that long, long path for soon I'll follow you
I want to know each step you take that I may walk the same for someday down that lonely road you'll hear me call your name

In that fair homeland we'll know no parting beyond the sunset for evermore

Monday, May 21, 2007

'Supersonic' Tomatoes

I ran out to the local garden nursery at lunch today and pickup a 6-pack of Supersonic tomatoes. This will be our first year growing tomatoes with any purpose. We have had a few plants here and there in the past but never cared one way or another how they did. My dad is the tomato grower in the family.

The nursery had several varieties to choose from: Supersonic, BetterBoy and a couple cherry varieties.

Description: Big, red fruits with flavor, size and quality! Mid-season beauties are firm, meaty, very large and slightly oblate in shape - smooth, with excellent resistance to cracking. Especially popular in the Northeast. Vigorous vines grow best with some means of support

Days to harvest: 79 - typical mid-season tomato harvest dates (65 to 80 days)

Size: 8 to 12 oz. tomatoes

Resistants: Plants are vigorous and disease resistant, as well as fusarium and verticillium resistant.

Tomato Variety: Indeterminate

Determinate vs. Indeterminate:

  • Determinate varieties produce many short branches with flowers and fruit on the ends. They are usually early varieties and produce their harvest all at once.
  • Indeterminate varieties will continue to grow and produce flowers and fruit all season until killed by frost, and are most common in gardens. Semi-determinate plants are more compact than indeterminate, but keep producing until frost.

Tomato TIPS:

  • Don't crowd tomato plants. They get quite large, and need some good air circulation to get a bountiful crop. Crowding actually reduces the number of tomatoes that will set on.
  • Plant more than one variety. They set on at different night time temperatures, so a mix is better.
  • Plant some basil plants near tomatoes, it will improve their flavor.

Guide to Abbreviations often found on tomato tags:
A=Alternaria, F=Fusarium, N=nematodes, T=Tobacco mosaic virus,V=Verticillium, OP=Open Pollinated and AAS=All America Selection

Note - The supersonic is listed as VFN.

Understanding Fertilizer Labels

Understanding Fertilizer Labels

The numbers on any fertilizer bag refer to the percentage of primary nutrients found inside. Primary nutrients are: nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K). The first number represents the percentage of nitrogen. The second number indicates the percentage of phosphorous, and the last number, the percentage of potassium.

For example, a bag labeled as 24-5-11 (N-P-K) contains 24% nitrogen, 5% phosphorous and 11% potassium.

New Baby Bunnies

Our baby bunnies have arrived! Two of our doe's delivered a day apart last week and right on time; Salt & Peppa had 5 on Tuesday, 5/15 and Abbey had 2 on Wednesday 5/16. All seven babies are doing just fine. Since Abbey has only 2 babies to care for they're much larger compared to the other 5!

Salt & Peppa was mated to Jack and Abbey was mated to Loppy.

Salt & Peppa's is a first time mom and doing a fantastic job so far. As you can see in the first picture, she pulled out a substantial amount of her hair and made a nice nest. You can even see a couple of the babies too.

This is a picture of Abbey's next box and one of her two little monsters. Abbey is a proven breeder and experienced mom. She is also very protective and won't hesitate to bite you if she gets the chance, so we need to be careful when feeding her.

They should all have their eyes opened by this coming weekend. Shortly thereafter they'll be out of their nest boxes exploring. This is an exciting time too because we'll get to see the color and markings, which are almost always unusual and unique. Emilie can't wait, as this is when she can hold and play with them.

What is my Hardiness Zone?

Want to determine your hardiness zone? Click on the link below to be taken to the Springhill Nurseries hardinzess zone identifier. Simply enter your zipcode and BAM (a little Emeril Lagasse) your zone is displayed.

Wikipedia Hardiness Zone Definition: A hardiness zone is a geographically-defined zone in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by temperature hardiness, or ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Deck Garter Snake

Eastern Garter Snake

'Deck Garter Snake '

I recently came across this Eastern Garter snake sunning himself on the deck. It's a little unusual as the deck is approximately 4 feet high but then again these guys are pretty resourceful.

'Tough guy'

Emilie and I found this little fella under a sheet of tin in my dad's back yard. This guy had a bit of an attitude from the get go, I guess he didn't want to be disturbed. One of their defense mechanisms is to make themselves appear bigger than they actually are. As you can see in this picture he's flattening himself out and taking a defensive posture. You can't see it here but this dude was trying to get a piece of me; he was striking and trying to bite. We took the hint and let him be.


Ah, spring time...

Here is a picture of my dads wisteria just beginning to bloom. You can smell it as you're pulling into the driveway. This is the only wisteria left on the property and has to date survived, unlike the cherry tree, my dad's bow saw and loppers. Perhaps he would appreciate this plant more if he could smell just how nice it is.

The dogwood trees and azaleas are also beginning to bloom too.

Friday, May 18, 2007


I came across this word and its definition today while browsing the Internet. I found it ironic and interesting due to my recent post on the Isabella Tiger Moth.

Double-Tongued Dictionary definition of 'woolly-booger -

woolly-booger n. (also woolly-bugger) 1. (colloquial) the larval-stage insect known as the woolly worm or woolly bear; a fishing fly that resembles such an insect. 2. (in the American Southwest, slang) an extraordinary example of a thing. 3. (in Oklahoma and Louisiana, slang) provisions intended to be overlooked in legislation.

Who would have thunk?

Rose Bush Maintenance

Q: When should I trim back my rosebushes?

A: In early spring, after the last frost. If forsythias are in bloom in your area, that's a good sign that it's time to prune the roses.

The above information was obtained from The Old Farmer's Almanac

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Here is a picture I took of an eastern tent caterpillar nest, which is covered with eastern tent caterpillars. These critters have, or rather had, taken up residence in a tree in my front yard. Although pretty hardy they just don't do too well under the weight of a size 9.5 Timberland work boot...

The eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) is more a nuisance than a threat. While heavy infestations can cause serious defoliation, eastern tent caterpillars rarely kill trees except those already weakened by disease or climate and environmental stresses. These caterpillars get their name from the ugly tent-like nests that they spin in the crotches of host trees. They are native to North America east of the Rockies.

The preferred tree for these pests is the black cherry but they will also infest other cherry trees as well as fruit trees such as apple and a variety of shade trees. You can see these 'tents' littered in trees throughout the area and they're quite unsightly too.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sabrina Cats

Will the real Sabrina please stand up or purr or something?!

Sabrina 1

Sabrina 2

The above pictures are of two cats named Sabrina; Sabrina 1 is a stray that has adopted my dad. Sabrina 2 was our cat who's since passed, she just disappeared one day, never to be seen from again.

Funny how things work, Sabrina 1 showed up at my dads shortly after Crackers died. Crackers was born and raised at my folks house and was somewhere in the area 15 - 16 years old, she too just disappeard one day, never to be seen from again.

Sabrina 2 was kind of odd, never had an overly friendly personality and didn't care for too much attention. Sabrina 1 is quite the opposite. She's very friendly, likes attention and always wants to jump up and sit in your lap.

With all that said, obviously Sabrina 2 is the preferred cat.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I Wanna Feel Something

Artist/Band: Trace Adkins
Lyrics for Song: I Wanna Feel Something
Lyrics for Album: Dangerous Man

If you’re tellin me I’m not on fire
You’re just preachin to the choir
I’ve gotten dull as old barbed wire from livin
Last night I watched the evening news
It was the same ole nothin new
It should have cut me right in two
But it didn’t
I don’t know why it didn’t

But I wanna feel somethin
Somethin that’s a real somethin
That moves me, that proves to me I’m still alive
I wanna heart that beats and bleeds
A heart that’s bustin at the seams
I wanna care, I wanna cry, I wanna scream
I just wanna feel somethin

If you're tellin me that’s just how it is
I don’t buy it cause once I was kissed
By a Norwood girl with cherry lips
At Houlihan’s in Framingham when I was thirty-one
And I felt it somewhere in my soul and time stood still and I couldn’t let go
I can’t tell you cause I don’t know how I got so cold
When did I get so cold

Chorus: I just wanna feel somethin
Somethin that’s a real somethin
That moves me, that proves to me I’m still alive
Run my fingers through your fingers, across your face and through your hair
And close my eyes and breathe you in like air
I just wanna feel somethin

I hate that I’m jaded and I make you cry
But still you stick around me, only God knows why
Damn it all to hell, I’m done
Cause I don’t like what I’ve become
So come here, baby
Come here, baby

I just wanna feel somethin
Somethin that’s a real somethin
That moves me, that proves to me I’m still alive
Run my fingers through your fingers, across your face and through your hair
And close my eyes and breathe you in like air
I just wanna feel somethin Come here, baby

Sunday, May 13, 2007

"Uncle Tommy" Hosta

Here is a picture of an "Uncle Tommy" hosta of ours, which we appropriately named after JoAnne's uncle who gave them to us. As you can see something just doesn't look right with this plant, wouldn't you agree? Can you tell what it is? It's been eaten; tasted, chewed, nibbled, munched, grazed on darn it! After close examination we know what animal is responsible for this atrocity. Do you?

Here is a clue for you circled in red below. Do you know now? Think people and no peaking at the labels below, that's cheating!

Bingo, you're right, it's a deer. Darn things don't look too cute grazing in the neighbor's yard now that they've decided to dine on our plants. JoAnne sprinkled some chili powered on what remained of this guy, as well as the other hostas in the area. Hopefully this will deter the deer from eating them. The good news, the plant is doing just fine and has bounced back nicely.

The Isabella Tiger Moth

Emilie caught a Wooly Bear caterpillar about 3 or 4 weeks ago that she kept in her insect bug cage. She would hold it and talk to it all the time. Approximately 2 - 2.5 weeks ago, and much to our surprise, it spun a cocoon (pupated).

Emilie called me at work on Friday, all excited, to tell me the cocoon has hatched. It emerged as the stunning Isabella Tiger Moth, which is a member of the Arctiidae family. There are many species of this moth, ours is the one pictured below - notice the handsome finger perch too. On Saturday we let it go and even though it was confined to a small cage, it surprised us as how far it was able to fly on it's maiden flight.

SFrye732_Blog archive - December 01, 2006 Wooly Bear posting

Thursday, May 10, 2007

India Blue

Picture taken by JoAnne at our recent visit to the Franklin Park Zoo.

This pictures speaks for itself!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


"X" marks the spot.

While visiting the Franklin Park Zoo on Monday, JoAnne took this interesting picture of contrails. It's a good thing these planes didn't pass at the same time...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Comcast's Handy Work

My dad recently switched to Comcast for his home telephone, cable and Internet access services. This is convenient and helps consolidate 3 bills into 1; less mail to receive, less checks to writes, less stamps to apply etc - you get the picture.

The picture above shows Comcast's handy work - quality at it's best!! The Internet router sits on the other side of that lovely cabling job.

One other note on the technician's handy work, he was unable to get Internet connectivity after everything was in place. Can anyone guess the cause of the failed Internet access? Bueller? Bueller? Yup, you nailed it or rather the technician "nailed" it - he put a nail, or to be exact, a staple through the cable as he was securing it to the house. Naturally, this required a second technician needing to be scheduled and dispatched on another day to trouble-shoot and resolve.

This is a testament to the pride, or lack of, that some people take in their work. Oh, by the way Comcast sucks!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Sunday, May 06, 2007

George "Charlie" Washington

When Charlie was about sixty-odd years old, he was made the wealthy master of a bow saw and loppers of which, like most retired men, he was extremely fond. He went about sawing and clipping everything that came his way, especially Wisteria.

One Sunday, as he wandered about the yard amusing himself, he found a beautiful, cherry tree, of which his oldest son was most proud off. He tried the edge of his bow saw on the trunk of the tree and the loppers on the limbs and cut the sucker down.

Some time after this, his son discovered what had happened to his favorite tree. He came into the house in great anger and demanded to know who the mischievous person was who had cut the tree down. Nobody could tell him anything about it.

Just then Charlie, with his bow saw, came into the room.

"Dad,'' said his son, "do you know who has killed my beautiful cherry tree yonder in the garden? I would not have taken five guineas for it!''

This was a hard question to answer, and for a moment Charlie was staggered by it, but quickly recovering himself he cried:

"I cannot tell a lie, son, you know I cannot tell a lie! I did cut it with my bow saw and loppers.''

The anger died out of his son's face, and taking the retiree tenderly in his arms, he said:

"Dear dad, that you should not be afraid to tell the truth is more to me than a thousand trees! Yes - though they were blossomed with silver and had leaves of the purest gold!''

The above story was written by M.L. Weems and modified slightly by me.

Actually, it didn't go down quite like that. However, Charlie (my dad) did cut down a cherry tree with a bow saw and loppers today; it was dead and needed to come down. Here is a picture of his handy work -

Go Fly a Kite

Here is Emilie flying the kite that her Grandma gave her for Easter. As you can see it's a beautiful morning. She had the parking lot all to herself as this was a Thursday morning and most people were in work or in school.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Big Ben

Emilie put the last six pieces in today to complete this 1000 piece puzzle. It didn't take us too long to 'git er dun'. On to the next one...

Oddly enough the puzzle box doesn't have any details on this picture, so I can't tell you any specifics other than the disclaimer:

The HASBRO and MB names and logos and the BIG BEN names are ® & © 2003 Hasbro, Pawtucket, RI 02862. All Rights Reserved. ® denotes Reg.US Pat. & TM Office

However, the name Big Ben reminds me of the following classic movie line from the movie European Vacation (1985), "Hey look kids, Big Ben, Parliament".

Friday, May 04, 2007

Moth or Butterfly

Moth or Butterfly?

Moths and butterflies look like similar creatures, but don't let them fool you. Moths, like the luna moth, outnumber butterflies by more than 10 to one, and the two groups can really be confusing. However, you can learn a few simple tricks to help tell them apart.

The simplest way has to do with timing. Butterflies are active during the day, and most moths are active at night. Butterflies depend on sunlight to find food and seek out mates. So if you see a flying flower during daylight hours, chances are you're seeing a butterfly. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. There are a number of moths that fly during the day.

Color is the next thing to look for when distinguishing butterflies from moths. Most butterflies, but not all, have bright colors that help with the mating process and ward off predators. Brightly colored butterflies attract mates from quite a distance, and colors can be very important in butterfly courtship displays.

Though a few day-flying moths are also brightly colored, most are a dull gray, brown, white or a combination of the three. Their coloring tends to be duller because they rest on trees, the ground and on rocks during the day to avoid predators.

In general, butterflies are thinner bodied that moths—with the exception of skippers. Skippers tend to be dull in color and have large heads and robust bodies. Unlike butterflies, most moths are not strong fliers.

If you're still not sure if you're seeing a moth or butterfly, there's one distinguishing feature that never fails. Look at the antennae. Butterflies have enlarged clubs at the tips of their antennae. The clubs may be slightly curved, round or oblong.

Moths, on the other hand, have either tapered or feathered antennae, and do not have clubs on the ends. However, the hummingbird moth's antennae tend to get larger toward the tips.

When it comes to caterpillars, it's even more difficult to tell the difference between butterflies and moths, unless you are familiar with their host plants. There is one big difference, though. Butterflies form a chrysalis, and moths spin cocoons.

A chrysalis is a hard outer shell that is attached to the host plant, either upright or upside down, depending on the species. Moths have a different approach. They pupate in soft cocoons that they spin from silk.

One other difference between moths and butterflies is how they keep warm. This isn't something that is easy to see, but it is interesting. Both creatures are cold-blooded, so they need to warm their bodies on chilly days in order to be active.

During the day, butterflies find a perch and bask in the sun, often with their wings outstretched to absorb more heat. Moths have to use a different method, since they are nocturnal. They vibrate their wings rapidly for periods of time while perched. This creates friction and warms their bodies.

So the next time you see a flying flower in your yard, take a close look, especially at the antennae. You'll know how to distinguish moths from butterflies in no time!

Article written by Tom Allen, Contributing Editor for Birds & Blooms, Moth or Butterfly
The above IO Moth picture came from Burning Silo

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Hosta Time

It's the beginning of May here in New England and the plants and animals have come alive. The flowering trees and shrubs have begun to flower and the perennials are pushing their way up through the soil.

One of my favorite's plants is Hostas and they're on the way up too. Added to my excitement is seeing the hostas I transplanted in the fall poking through. I can't recall how many different varieties of hosta we have or their exact names right now but I will get back to you, as I have this written down somewhere.

Here are a few pictures of our hostas from last year. As you can see these are four different varieties:

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Lawn Mowing

Cut my lawn tonight for the first time this year - 1 down, countless more to go!

The clippings come in handy:
  1. I spread some around the strawberry plants to keep the weeds down and the mositure in.
  2. I tossed some in with the chickens; they eat some and what doesn't get eaten mixes nicely with the hay and straw and droppings for a nice compost.
  3. I fed some to the rabbits and guinea pigs.
  4. The rest went into the compost pile; future food for the plants and gardens.

Penises "arms race"...

Here is an interesting article I came across today. It would have been funny to be a fly on the wall in the room where the decision was made to study this area of biology.

JoAnne would argue that it was a man that said, "Hey, why don't we figure out why some species of birds have penises and some do not!"

Anyway, "Here's your sign"...

Duck penises show "arms race" between sexes: study