Q: We began getting all these little tunnel holes in my mother’s flower mattress (no flowers planted but, simply weeded and able to go). They’re little tunnels, most likely not more than a 1/2 to 1 inch within the floor. Once I was mowing tonight I ended to have a look at them and observed one among them had one thing like spitting a small quantity of filth up out of the outlet. Any thought what these are from? They’re alongside the cement basis within the entrance of our home.
— Denise C.
A: You could have heard of “doodlebugs,” and if that’s the case, these are the creatures which have made the funnel-shaped cones in your yard. They’re made by the larvae of an insect higher going by the title antlion. They’re thought of beneficial for feeding on ants and different bugs. Down south they’re much more beneficial for feeding on hearth ants.
I first met them in a sandy plot beneath a rock construction at Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield. In my later teen years, I typically joined S. Waldo Bailey, botanical warden at Bartholomew’s Cobble from 1946 to 1963, and these little sandy treats, when first launched intrigued, then and even right now and I’d attempt to encourage a larva to poke up from beneath the sand to catch an insect. Only some occasions by way of the years was I profitable and so quick was the doodlebug that it could acknowledge the subterfuge that inside an instantaneous it could retreat. My bate was a skinny grass blade and I way back discovered to creep up making as little vibration as potential. And greater than doubtless, many of those as much as 2 inches in diameter and the identical depth might be discovered inside a couple of inches every. Typically, they’re present in sandy soil, the place beneath a single larva will anticipate an inspecting prey to fall in or slip down and be grabbed by its jaws.
The antlion itself is the larvae and is a predator, whereas adults feed on pollen and nectar.
In time, these larvae pupate into dragonfly-like creatures that normally take it simple till later within the night.
Antlion larvae are really essentially the most mesmerizing of insect predators. Particularly in case you encounter one capturing an insect you toss into its funnel-like construction and it captures your deal with with its sizeable pair of jaws. Like a spider, it’ll paralyze its potential meal by injecting poison. It then sucks out the nutritious juices and tosses away the empty carcass.
Antlion larvae are really some of the fascinating insect predators!
Invoice A. wrote: “A raccoon obtained into three of our birdhouses. Tore the highest of 1 and managed to get his paw within the others and pull out all of the nesting materials and no matter eggs or child birds the place in there.”
NatureWatch’s remark about this carnivore: It’s like black bears in feeding, in that they seem to decide on lots of the identical meals. Bears, too, are recognized to interrupt into birdhouses to collect eggs and hatchlings. Raccoons inhabit not solely woodlands, wetlands, and agricultural fields, but in addition parks, neighborhoods, and different locations I can consider. Whereas they’re primarily nocturnal, they may also be seen throughout daylight. They’re opportunists, consuming each animal and plant meals (typically within the season, grains, mast, and fruits.) They don’t cross up backyard crops like berries, grapes, tomatoes, apples, pears, corn, and grasses, and for the animal matter, they relish frogs, crayfish, turtles, fish, snakes, earthworms, and as Invoice A. discovered, birds and their eggs. Raccoons additionally feed on crickets and grasshoppers, honeybees and different bugs, shrews, mice, squirrels, and likewise carrion and rubbish!
Thankfully, they’ve predators that (normally) preserve them in examine, together with man and canines, great-horned owls, coyotes, bobcats, probably fishers, coyotes, and particularly, vehicles.
Nancy P., from Stockbridge, wrote: “Perhaps 4 years in the past I believe it was your column that talked about planting milkweed seeds within the fall and once more within the spring after letting the seeds stored in a chilly shed for the winter — we stored the within the storage. We will need to have planted possibly 25 seeds and some did sprout. Now, like your remark, they’ve turn into a weed. Thankfully they’re in a patch of their very own. Most are budding and might be attracting pollinators. Final yr, as I recall, there was a monarch caterpillar and possibly most likely made it to turn into a butterfly.”
WATER CHESTNUTS IN CHESHIRE RESERVOIR
Liseann Karandisecky writes: “I’m the present prudential chairman of the Hoosac Lake Recreation/Preservation District “HLD”. Right here on “Cheshire Lake” in Cheshire. I simply learn your 2021 article within the Berkshire Eagle about water chestnuts and needed to succeed in out to you. I stay on the north basin [of Cheshire Reservoir] and a part of the rationale I turned concerned with the prudential committee was due to the water chestnuts. I observed them three years in the past within the cove throughout the road from us.
On the time, I used to be not on the prudential committee however requested if I may do a trip together with SOLitude [Lake Management], I needed to level these out to them as I had by no means seen them earlier than.
I’ve been fishing/swimming on this lake on and off for the previous 55 years and this plant was new to me. Dominic from SOLitude knew what it was earlier than I even confirmed him. He had pointed these out beforehand to the prudential committee and warned them about these invasive vegetation.
This began my journey of researching them and making an attempt to manage them right here on our lake.
Final yr, I used to be voted onto this committee and the very first thing I did was apply for permits to drag these. I organized a number of group pulls and was telling anybody who would hear concerning the water chestnuts. I used to be shocked at what number of vegetation we had final yr versus 2020. We pulled some severe numbers out final summer time, and this yr it made a distinction however we nonetheless have extra work to do. As you recognize, the seedbed isn’t any joke.
We at the moment are working with Pond and Lake Connection out of Connecticut for our weed remedies. We additionally employed a advisor to do some in-depth plant research for us.
We’re on the point of do extra group pulls, final summer time it was restricted to volunteers from the HLD. I do know it is getting late to drag now, so I’m hoping to get a bigger group of volunteers and maintain 1-2 large days of pulling as an alternative of some individuals pulling as soon as per week for June, July, and August.
I additionally simply obtained appointed to the Council of Getting older right here in Cheshire they usually have requested me to put in writing an article on water chestnuts for the “Cheshire Chatter,” the council’s bi-monthly publication.”