The Daily Bug

Pumpkin Time

By: palmettobug53, 11:28 PM GMT on October 26, 2008

This is the time of year that the pumpkins, jack o'lanterns and pumpkin festivals start popping up. Aqua suggested the subject matter. I thought it over and decided to go with it.


I'm not going to type out a big old entry this time. I'm just going to put up a few links, fun facts and trivia and borrow some pictures from the folks here on WU. How lazy can you get? LOL

(BTW, if I use one of your photos and you'd rather I didn't, just drop me an email and I'll gladly remove it. No harm; no foul and no hurt feelings!)

So, here we go:


Here in SC, we actually have a town named Pumpkintown. It's in the Upstate, in Pickens County. And they do have a Pumpkin Festival in early October each year. They must not have updated their website lately, as they have info on the 2003 Festival up and nothing since. That, or I'm on the wrong site, which is possible.

Speaking of Pumpkin Festivals, here's a link that lists them all over the world:

Pumpkin Nook

The mother of all pumpkin festivals, IMHO, is the annual Punkin Chunkin near Bridgeville, Delaware. I first saw this on CBS Sunday Morning, I think, and it's a hoot! They chunk punkins with everything from homemade cannons to trebuchets.

Here's what Wiki has to say about Jack O'Lanterns

Pumpkins and More has the history of pumpkins, recipes, Halloween links, pumpkin fun and facts.

Jack O'Lanterns.net has a whole bunch of Halloween stuff.

I Celebrate Holidays claims to have everything you wanted to know about pumpkins but were afraid to ask.

Pumpkin Recipes.us is chock full of... yep, you got it: pumpkin recipes.

This should get us started off and in the mood. If you have any links to fun pumpkin and Halloween fun, facts, trivia, whathaveyou, post it in!


If you have any interest in the protection of Grand Trees, go to savetheangeloak.org and see what a developer is proposing for the small area left around the Angel Oak on John's Island. PLEASE read the information provided on the website first before signing the petition.
You can still go sign the petition. Please note that the Angel Oak itself is not being removed.

And don't forget to support the Ike Relief Fund. Visit StormJunkie's blog for up to date details on how this effort is moving forward. Spread the word! sign up for the Honor Walk on Nov. 22nd. Details at >Link

I've signed up to do the Christmas for Kids Honor Walk on Nov. 22nd. I'm hoping that I'll be able to reach my goal of $300.00, considering the shape of the economy right now.

If you live in the Charleston area, please sign up to participate. What I'd like to do, is get as many Charleston area bloggers to sign up for the walk. We could all meet down at the Battery on Nov 22nd (time to be set later, probably in the afternoon) and walk the Battery, East Bay St and Waterfront Park or wherever the mood strikes us. We could then go to one of the bistros on Meeting or East Bay and get coffee, pie, cake, etc. Parking is free along the Battery, the views are great and I think we'd have fun. I really would love to have some company!


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Updated: 1:46 AM GMT on November 14, 2008

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Bug's Bugs

By: palmettobug53, 11:41 PM GMT on October 18, 2008

bugs


It's time to put up the last installment of my "Critters" trilogy. I've covered the bird and animals. Now we come to my many friends and relations: bugs. There's no possible way I'll be able to list them all or the specific types. There are just too many. I'm sure there are plenty that I don't even see.

Frankly, I like bugs. Most of them, anyway. I'd just as soon not have the ones that bite or skitter off under the kitchen cabinets when you cut the light on but you have to take the good with the bad, I suppose. I find them fascinating and have spent many an hour lying in the grass and watching them. Even now, though the thought has crossed my mind that I risked having the neighbors call 911, thinking I'd lost consciousness for some reason. Or maybe not. I think they've pretty much decided I'm just a tad peculiar.

Where to start?

I guess, with my namesake, the palmetto bug. I hate roaches. We have the little German ones, too, though they don't give me the ooglies the way the big ones do. Luckily, we don't have many of either. I can go months on end, without seeing any in the house. Which is surprising, since there's cat food down 24/7 in the back entryway, off the kitchen. Once in a blue moon, I'll spot one of those little ones and immediately declare war. The big ones? One will pop up inside sometimes in the summer, after a lot of rain. But if you want to see me freak, those big ones will do it. Hubby couldn't believe it, when I told him what I'd chosen for my handle. I've scared the bejeebers out of him more than once, upon spotting one and letting loose a scream that would rival an air raid siren.

We get spiders inside, on occasion. Have no idea what kind they are. Just your average, run of the mill, house spiders, I guess. Hubby will spot a web in a corner and break out the broom.

Outside, I've seen plenty of little wolf spiders or jumping spiders. Tiny little things. If you get up close, they kind of remind you of old men; just with more legs and lots of eyes. Or something from Dr. Seuss, like the Lorax.

Just recently, I've spotted two outside, that I'd never seen before. And they're really cool. The first one I saw, turned out to be a Jeweled Spider or Crab Spider. And that's exactly what they look like. They have what appears to be a carapace that is shaped exactly like a blue crab shell, only it's white with black spots. The second one, I had to enlist Charles to help me identify. It turned out to be a pregnant Green Lynx Spider. Within 24 hours of ID'ing her, she lay her egg sac on a branch of my common lantana. And, boy, did she deflate! She was huge, when I first spotted her. She's still there, on guard. I've been checking daily, as I want to see the babies. From what I see online, she'll guard those, as well.

I had several big grasshoppers in my flower bed this summer. Two solid green ones and one that was green with brown sides. He was BIG! They've moved to greener pastures, I assume, as I've not seen them in several weeks.

I see the occasional cricket. Like fireflies, they seem to be scarce on the ground these days. At least, around here. From what I see online, the use of insecticides on the lawns in suburban neighborhoods has a deleterious effect on them. I've never seen a firefly here; it's only when I get out of town, in rural areas.

We've got ants in the yard. Lots and lots of ants. Red ants of some kind, though I'm pretty sure they're not fire ants. They don't build those big mounds that are typical of fire ants. They will give you a nasty bite, though. We also have quite a few of those tiny little black ants. The ones I've always been told were sugar ants. They don't seem to bite. And, again, with the cat food, I'm surprised that that's another bug I've not had problems with inside. I think some got in one time but that was years ago and I put a stop to that invasion pretty quickly.

My river birch out front harbours tiny green aphids. Which, in turn, attract lady bugs. Both the native red ladybug (Coccinellidae) and the introduced orange Asian or Japanese Lady Beetle (Harmonia asyridis). It seems that the Asian variety is crowding out the native red beetle, as they seem scarcer and scarcer each year. Both are beneficial, though. I discovered recently, that the odd looking little black bugs with the yellow or orange markings that I see crawling around are ladybug larvae and the funny looking little husks I'd find from time to time, are their pupae. I had no idea they were one and the same. We learn something new everyday, don't we? And this time, it was from a packet the little girl next door got at pre-K about ladybugs!

We see Daddy Long Legs every now and then, but it's been a while. We used to have a nandina bush under the front window and, for some reason, they seemed to like it. There'd be dozens of them in there. Hubby hated that bush and dug it up. And that was pretty much the end of our Daddy Long Legs.

Every spring, just as the weather starts warming up and I get spring planting fever, the no-see-ums arrive in droves. I'm so thankful that they don't hang around more than a month or so. What with having mosquitos all summer, having both for the entire spring/summer would be sheer torture. By the time the skeeters arrive, the no-see-ums are gone. There's not much I can do about the no-see-ums, besides using bug repellant. Or the mosquitos, either, for that matter. I do try to check the yard, after it rains, to empty out anything I can find that holds water. It's a rather futile activity, as it really doesn't seem to reduce the skeeter population any. They can breed in a thimbleful sized bit of water and it's pretty much impossible to eliminate all breeding spots.

Every fall, starting around the first part of September, I get the butterflies. Oh, I see one here and there, starting the first part of summer but it's fall when they really show up. All kinds. Swallowtails, frittilaries, and lots of little skippers. There are some solid yellow ones and solid white ones, too. I'm not really up to speed on ID'ing them. One of these days, I'll get myself one of those field guides and make more of an effort to learn about the various species I see.

We have moths, too, but I have no idea what kinds. I'll see them flitting around the streetlights and the lights in the bank parking lot on the other side of the fence at the end of the street. Too small, too far up and too dark for me to even try to ID. I've always wanted to see a Luna Moth. I have no idea if they are found in SC or not. From pictures I've seen, they are gorgeous.

One moth I have been able to ID was the Hummingbird Moth. That was last summer. I was watering my flowers when I spotted what I thought was a hummingbird. It was small and and brown and, at first glance, appeared to possibly be some type of juvenile hummingbird. But as I continued to eyeball it, I realized that it was not a bird. It took me a little bit of Googling before I was able to ID it. It's one of the few species of moth that are diurnal. (BTW, what would we do without Uncle Google?)

We do have cicadas. I can no longer hear them, which tells you how bad my hearing is (even wearing my aids), as the males can really make a racket on summer evenings. I do find their empty carapaces fairly frequently. And I dig up the larvae all the time, when planting things. I have no idea what variety they are; there are approximately 2,500 species around the world.

We have a terrible mole cricket infestation in our yard. Have you ever seen one of those things? Ewwwwwwww, they are UGLY! We have sprayed and sprayed, which is probably why we don't have regular crickets or fireflies. I hate using insecticides, too. We'll get to the point where we think we have them licked but they just keep coming back. I think we're just completely outnumbered in this battle.

Every summer, when I get my pots of tomatoes going, I get the stink bugs. I leave them alone; they leave me alone. I'm not about to touch them, either. They DO stink.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw the first June bug I've seen in years! I was sitting on the front stoop and this huge bug came flying by. It landed on the concrete. I managed to get it to crawl up on my hand for a few minutes before it flew off. It was a big one, too. They really are pretty.

I'll frequently see praying mantis in my flower bed. I find them fascinating. They are kind of weird looking; rather like an alien from some unknown planet. Two Saturdays ago, I found a baby stick mantis. I'd never seen one before. It was a light brown and would hold it's two front legs tightly together and straight out in front. It looked just like a piece of dried grass.

I have found a couple of walking sticks in the yard before. Another odd creature and it definitely fools the eye.

There are plenty of dragonflies or devil's darning needles. There has a been a big one hanging around the yard lately. It has a black body and clear wings, except for a broad black band on the wings. I've Googled around some but haven't been able to ID it.

We have dirt daubers, which I don't mind. We had some yellow jackets try to nest in my clothes line pole one time. I started pegging out my laundry, which jiggled the pole and they swarmed out. One of them popped me on the hand. I hadn't been stung in years and I'd forgotten how much it hurt. We got rid of them and fast. I couldn't have that!

Then there's the bumblebees. I like bumblebees. They seem to really like the blossoms on my Moses-in-the-Cradle, though they visit all my flowers.

Whew! I'm sure I'm leaving a lot out but I've got to stop or this entry will be humongous! LOL



Graphic courtesy of Caro!

If you have any interest in the protection of Grand Trees, go to savetheangeloak.org and see what a developer is proposing for the small area left around the Angel Oak on John's Island. PLEASE read the information provided on the website first before signing the petition.

You can still go sign the petition. Please note that the Angel Oak itself is not being removed.

And don't forget to support the Ike Relief Fund. Visit StormJunkie's blog for up to date details on how this effort is moving forward. Spread the word! sign up for the Honor Walk on Nov. 22nd. Details at >Link

I've signed up to do the Christmas for Kids Honor Walk on Nov. 22nd. I'm hoping that I'll be able to reach my goal of $300.00, considering the shape of the economy right now.

If you live in the Charleston area, please sign up to participate. What I'd like to do, is get as many Charleston area bloggers to sign up for the walk. We could all meet down at the Battery on Nov 22nd (time to be set later, probably in the afternoon) and walk the Battery, East Bay St and Waterfront Park or wherever the mood strikes us. We could then go to one of the bistros on Meeting or East Bay and get coffee, pie, cake, etc. Parking is free along the Battery, the views are great and I think we'd have fun. I really would love to have some company!


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Updated: 1:40 AM GMT on November 14, 2008

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(((Karen)))

By: palmettobug53, 12:04 PM GMT on October 12, 2008

When I was growing up on James Island, it was mostly farmland. We had quite the variety of birds and animals pop up in the yard from time to time, especially the first few years we lived there. It was a different world and I'm glad I had a chance to enjoy it, before it disappeared.

Now that we live in a typical suburban neighborhood, animal life is a bit scarcer but we still see critters in the yard. There are tracts of wooded areas not far from here and we get the occasional wild visitors. My second to the last blog was a listing of all our feathered friends. This one is focused on our four legged visitors - and a few without.

Our most common ones are, without a doubt, squirrels. Their population waxes and wanes. For the last two years, we have been up to our eyeballs in them. Daisy goes beserk when they sit on the other side of the window from her. She makes this really rapid mahmahmahmah cry (I can't hear it but I can see her mouth just a-moving) and she literally trembles from tip to tail, like she's electrified. I swear, they sit on the windowsill and taunt the poor cat, knowing she can't get to them. I really don't think she'd know what to do with one, if she caught it. Thor doesn't find them quite as attractive as Daisy does. I've seen them run right past his nose, while he was lounging around outside, without him even flicking an eye. One of them is going to do that one time too often, though, as he has been known to snag one on occasion.

They are cute. They are fun to watch. I even had one as a pet years ago, when I was a teenager. That was before the wildlife laws were enacted, making it illegal to be in possession of wild animals without a permit. I've rescued several baby squirrels, turning them over to rehabbers. I have to admit, though, that I am getting a bit fed up with them getting into our attic (which is dangerous, considering their proclivity for chewing on things such as wiring), raiding my birdfeeders and stealing my tomatoes. I've caught Hubby muttering under his breath about the BB gun and air rifle. I won't do anything harmful to them but I have started thinking about live traps and the squirrel's version of the Witness Protection Program. If for nothing else, to forestall Hubby from declaring open season.

I guess our next most frequent visitors are the occasional possum and raccoon. We make several sightings a year of one or the other. Sometimes, they hang around for a while. Others, we'll see once and that's it. Last winter, we had a huge possum set up housekeeping nearby. I'd spot him at late in the evenings or early in the mornings, before leaving for work. Haven't seen him since early spring, so I guess he's moved on. Or she, as the case may be. The other night, I spotted two glowing eyes under the birdfeeder. It was a raccoon. They're pretty frequent visitors, as well. I just make sure the garbage can and the bird feeder cans are securely shut. If they can't find a food source, they generally move on. Unfortunately, there are several restaurants and fast food joints nearby, with their accompanying dumpsters out back. Possums and 'coons love those all-you-can-eat buffets.

Several years ago, I found a good sized dead possum in the yard one morning. I left a note for hubby to call Animal Services and have them retrieve the body, as we'd had several confirmed rabies cases in the Charleston area that year. He did so and then went back outside to take another look. The body was moving. He said it looked really weird, so leaned in closer. It was babies crawling out of her pouch. Animal Services pulled up right about then. The woman examined the possum and said it looked like a dog had attacked the mum. She gathered up the babies (one was dead) and said that they knew a rehabber who would take the babies and raise them for eventual release.

We have plenty of little green anoles. I love watching them. Especially the males, during their quests to find a mate. All the posturing, head bobbing and displaying of their bright pink dewlap. Handsome fellows. We even caught a pair of them facing off on our front windowsill one afternoon, a couple of years ago. They circled around, each one trying to look tougher than the other and then, all of a sudden, they grappled! The fight didn't last but a minute before one of them broke free and zipped around the corner of the house. The victor sat there, breathing heavily for a minute before he slipped off behind the shutter. It was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen. They get inside from time to time. Most of them, I manage to either catch or shoo outside. There have been occasions, though, that I've found a mummified body under or behind furniture, while cleaning house. That's usually in late fall or early winter, as I assume they got inside, trying to find a warm spot. .

We get the occasional blue tailed skinks. There's been one, possibly two, out there this summer. They don't seem to be too numerous, though. We can go a couple of years without seeing one and then, the next summer, one will pop up.

In the last three years, I've been spotting more and more geckos. Now, they're not native to SC. They have to be either escaped pets or possibly escapees from the SuperPetz in the shopping center across the highway behind our house. I'm not sure just what kind of gecko they are. All I can say is that they're kind of beige with brown markings on them. I found a baby one in the house not too long ago and managed to capture it and get it outside, before one of the cats spotted it. And I found a baby gecko in the kitchen at work a couple of weeks ago. I was able to catch that one and get it outside before one of the girls spotted it and freaked out. They're not as blasé about lizards as I am.

If you enjoy watching lizards, try putting up a lizard feeder. All you need is a small empty can, some banana and a little water. Nail or attach the can to a fence post or something similiar. Mash the banana and water, put the mixture in the can and sit back to watch. The mixture attracts flies and the flies attract the lizards

Snakes, now, seem to be a bit scarce on the ground around here. I think we've spotted two and that was within the first 4 or 5 years that we lived here. I don't even remember now, what they were. Grass snakes, I suppose. They were small, is all I remember.

I can count on one hand, the number of toads we've seen. I'm not sure why; possibly because we don't have a water source around here to support their breeding habits. I like toads. Always have. Mr. Toad of Toad Hall always tickled me, so I guess that's why. And they eat a lot of bugs, which is good. I've never seen a tree frog here at all.

We do see glass snakes fairly frequently. Despite their common name, they're not snakes; they're a legless lizard. They can be distinguished from snakes by the fact that they have external ear holes and they have eyelids. If you look closely, you can sometimes spot small appendages near their vent, which are all that remain of their hind legs. They like to burrow in leaf mold, which we have a lot of in the neighborhood.

I have a really weird story about a glass lizard. It was the Monday after my brother died. I hadn't gone back to work yet. Hubby was outside, cutting the grass, I think. Anyway, he came in and went to the bathroom. He came flying back out, hollering for me to "Come here! Quick!". There in the tub, was the biggest glass snake I'd ever laid eyes on! It must have been almost two and a half feet long and almost as big around as my wrist! It was thrashing around in the tub, trying to get out. Hubby managed to get his hands on it and took it to the ditch behind the house and turned it loose.

What flipped me out, was trying to figure out how in the heck it got in there. There was no water on the floor, so it couldn't have come up through the toilet. Besides, with all the tile and porcelain in there, how could it get a grip to climb into the tub? I can see it getting into the house. Sorta. We did have the doors open and there is a gap under the screen door in front, though I wouldn't think it was big enough for that sized lizard to get in. I sometimes unlatch the back screen, so Daisy can let herself in and out, so the back door is a possiblity. I wouldn't have thought it could manage the three steps and the threshold to even get to either door, though. It's a total mystery to me, to tell you the truth. It did cross my mind that it was my brother, playing mind games with me from the other side. You can be the judge of that!

So, even if you don't live where you have a lot of "wildlife", you may still have quite a few visitors, if you just look for them. I'd love to hear what kinds of animals you see in your backyards.


If you have any interest in the protection of Grand Trees, go to savetheangeloak.org and see what a developer is proposing for the small area left around the Angel Oak on John's Island. PLEASE read the information provided on the website first before signing the petition.

You can still go sign the petition. Please note that the Angel Oak itself is not being removed.


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I've added below a picture of my most common critter, courtesy of hurigo. And a second one, from hurugo. And the others from various photogs here on WU. If any of you have any objections to my using your photographs, drop me a WUmail to let me know and I'll remove it. P.S. Dad isn't one of the critters, though! LOL

Updated: 11:38 PM GMT on October 18, 2008

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Angel Oak Petition

By: palmettobug53, 10:28 PM GMT on October 01, 2008

Angel Oak

If you have any interest in the protection of Grand Trees, go to savetheangeloak.org and see what a developer is proposing for the small area left around the Angel Oak on John's Island. PLEASE read the information provided on the website first before signing the petition.

You can still go sign the petition. Please note that the Angel Oak itself is not being removed.

John's Island used to be rural; a farming community. Over the last 20 years or so, most of the farms have disappeared and just about the entire island has been developed. I remember riding along with my Dad sometimes on Saturdays, to visit with his customers out there. (Dad sold tractors and farm equipment before he moved to Sumter). It was quiet and green and loaded with oak trees along the roads. The local farmers would tell Dad to come out and pick anything he wanted. Dad would always wait until after the 2nd or 3rd picking. We'd troop out there after supper during the week and glean the fields. Come home, snap, shell and put everything in the freezer.

We went out to Angel Oak quite a few times. It was on land owned by a farmer Dad knew. The tree is HUGE. I've got a couple of old black and white pictures of us out there. They aren't proposing doing anything to the Angel Oak itself but they are going to destroy the buffer zone around it, along with requesting a variance to remove some smaller grand trees. There will be increased traffic, along with all the accompanying pollution. With encroaching development, there is also increasing concern for vandalism of the tree.

The thought of them building houses and a shopping center right up to where the Angel Oak stands, breaks my heart. The tree is now owned by the City of Charleston and there is a small park there. Basically, it's just a small plot right where the tree is. I'd like to see the entire area surrounding it stay forested. Well, what little bit is left. I don't know how this is going to turn out but I suspect that the developer will get his way. I hope that the voice of the people will be heard, though.

Angel Oak, Wikipedia

AngelOakTree.Org

Photo Gallery

And while we're on the subject, you might find this link interesting: National Register of Big Trees



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Updated: 12:20 PM GMT on October 12, 2008

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About palmettobug53

WU member since Oct. 2005. I enjoy reading, crafts, crosswords, puttering in the yard, old movies and hanging out with my friends on WU.

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