Crows In, Predators Out

Country diary: carrion crows construct their high-rise abode | Birds | The  Guardian

Jambo, Mr. Nature here! And I haven’t seen any predators in our neighborhood lately. Especially hawks. Where have our hawks gone?

Well, we now have crows. Lot and lots of crows. And crows don’t like predators. Instead of just putting their names on a registry, the crows chase them out. This seems to work very well. Maybe the crows are smarter than we are.

God’s Stuff: Spring Peepers

Before I get into any low-down, dreary nooze–if I get into it at all today–here’s a sure harbinger of spring: you can hear the spring peepers.

My editor, Susan, has a patch of boggy ground next door; and when the peepers come out of hibernation to mate and lay eggs, Susan calls me on the phone so I can hear the peepers singing.

God has not troubled Himself with giving them a calendar; He has created them so that they never miss their time.

God’s stuff always works. It’s our stuff that has all the problems.

Mr. Nature: The Giant Dragonfly

Meganeura, a hawk-sized relative of modern dragonflies that lived during  the Carboniferous : r/Naturewasmetal

Jambo, Mr. Nature here–with a dragonfly that has a two-foot wingspan. Sometimes a little more.

Meganeura is prehistoric, so don’t worry about one flying into your car while you’re driving on the highway. Once upon a time, some insects grew to spectacular size (although not to the degree celebrated in assorted 1950s monster movies). Scientists think it was possible for them to grow so large because there was more oxygen in the air then than there is today. Mixing the air is God’s prerogative.

Dragonflies, totally harmless to humans, eat mosquitoes. As far as I’m concerned, we can never have too many dragonflies.

Mr. Nature: Bagworms

206 Bagworm Moth Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

The first time I found one of these on Aunt Louise’s shrubbery, no one could tell me what it was. Eventually I learned it was a bagworm in its bag–a bag made out of bits of evergreenery.

These insects are a sort of moth, except the female is wingless and lives in the bag, where she will lay several hundred eggs. The bag is a winter shelter. They’re found throughout the eastern U.S. The males fly around, but you’d never notice them.

The caterpillar starts building its bag well before winter comes. When it gets cold outside, the caterpillar attaches its bag to a matching shrub and gets busy pupating.

(Another prayer request has come in, so I’d better get busy on that!)

Were You Asking for Spiders?

Gee, who left this big clump of hair lying around outside? Maybe I’ll just pick it up and throw it away…

And it turns into 7 zillion spiders!

These daddy long-legs critters like to chill out in groups, the more, the merrier. I’ve never known them to do this in New Jersey, but it’s very popular among the daddy long-legs of Mexico. Mr. Nature says it’s a way of protecting themselves from predators. Like, you might be in the mood for three or four daddy long-legs; but a mouthful of a thousand of ’em might not be so appetizing.

Just so you know, these animals are completely harmless. Couldn’t hurt you if they wanted to.

Special Video Treat: Red Pandas

There’s butt I could kick today, nooze I might cover–but I think it better to try to relax into a sabbath day of rest (if your sabbath is Saturday, that’s fine, too).

So! Has God ever made a cuter, prettier, more smile-raising creature than the red panda? Yes, we’ve learned to call them pandas, although scientists say they’re not related to the giant panda. Scientists can make up their minds about what animals go into which families.

Odd panda fact: Most animals–think mammals, reptiles, fish–are lighter-colored, or even white, on the bottom and darker on top. with the red panic, the opposite is true. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

What Do Bees Do in the Winter?

beekeeping. bumblebee. bee. Nest has queen, drones (males), and worker bees feed hatched larva and seal cells with wax. Honey bees, honeybees colony. Beehive, beeswax, honeycomb, brood. insect

These last few days around here have been quite cold–good thing I finished my book last week.

One of the pleasures of writing outside has been watching the bees–honeybees, bumblebees, and our little native bees–working on the masses of tiny white wildflowers that sprang up around my writing chair. These last two days, though, I haven’t seen any bees. Where are they?

Well, they’re in their hive, huddling together to “form a winter cluster to keep warm,” according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica. By doing this, they can raise the temperature inside the hive to 90 or even 100 degrees. And if the temperature outside rises to 50 degrees or more, the bees will venture outside to relieve themselves. Throughout the winter, they survive by eating stored honey.

Thus God has given bees the ability to survive through the winter, even when there are no flowers for them to visit. He has provided for them as He provides for us and all the rest of His creation. The bees, by working diligently throughout the summer and the early fall, have what they need to make it through the winter.

And so I’ll see them again when the flowers come back into bloom.

A Spider Who’s Afraid of Spiders

[Editor’s Note: Only the first 17 seconds of this video pertain to this topic. I don’t vouch for any of the rest.]

I’m rather fond of those little striped jumping spiders, “zebra spiders.” They’re about a quarter of an inch long.

Watch this. Confronted by an unfamiliar object, the spider first pauses to look it over, then ventures closer, and when nothing bad happens, explores it. Note that jumping spiders see much better than other spiders. When they see you coming, they will try to hide.

And… does this spider display curiosity? I think he does; and curiosity suggests the presence of a mind. Has God the Creator endowed even this tiny spider with a mind?

Now watch what happens when the smooth pebble is replaced by a giant spider model. How fast can you say “I’m outta here!”?


Mr. Nature: Daddy Long-Legs

Jambo! Today our safari takes us to the foundation of your house, where we see spiders crawling on the walls. Almost everybody thinks they’re spiders, and knows them well as “daddy long-legs.” But they’re actually very different from spiders.

There are over 6,000 species of these critters, found all over the world. If you’ve ever turned over a rotten old board and found a thousand red daddy long-legs under it, don’t worry: these animals have no power to harm us in any way.

I find it fascinating that both the male and female daddy long-legs take care of their eggs and hatchlings.

On the whole, they’re rather nice. Be kind to them.

The World’s Biggest Frog, Ever

Pin on Prehistoric.

Jambo, Mr. Nature here! What was the world’s biggest-ever frog, and how big was it?

It’d take a big jug-o’-rum to fill this baby, Beelzebufo, a prehistoric frog from Madagascar. It was as big as a beach-ball, weighing in at ten pounds, with a body 16 inches long. It appears to be related to the South American horned frogs which occasionally turn up in pet stores–although why anyone would want one of those evil-tempered little cusses is beyond me.

Was Beelzebufo really the biggest frog ever, or are there bigger ones still waiting to be discovered?

The possibilities for a 1950s-style horror movie are intriguing.