Ticks Do Not Jump

ticks

Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not jump. Only a few are found on maintained lawns. Instead, they tend to prefer shady areas where they wait for a host. Doug Tallamy of Bringing Nature Home says this:

Ticks do not run after us when we go into our yards. They climb up on vegetation and ‘quest.’ That is, they wait for us to walk by and then grab on when we do. So, one easy solution is to reduce your lawn to wide mowed paths, and then stay on those paths during periods of high tick infectivity (May and June in Southeast PA.) For me, staying out of the woods is not an option I choose to follow, so I remain vigilant. I (with a little help from my wife) check myself after I’ve been playing outside. Deer ticks like bare patches of skin near waste and sock bands or tight undies and with close inspection they can be easy to find. They also like to get between my toes. Fortunately, they avoid our hairy heads. When I find an embedded tick, I pull it off (sometimes I need tweezers for those tiny nymphs) and put Neosporin on the bite site. A Lyme researcher told me years ago that the Neosporin kills the Borrelia spirochete before it gets into the blood stream. I don’t know if that is true but I do know that I have never gotten Lyme disease when I follow this routine.

Doug Tallamy, 2020,

Deer or Blacklegged Ticks

The blacklegged (deer) tick is a notorious biting arachnid named for its dark legs. Blacklegged ticks are sometimes called deer ticks because their preferred adult host is the white-tailed deer. In the Midwest, blacklegged ticks are called the bear ticks. Deer ticks are found primarily in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, southeastern, and northcentral United States but extend into Mexico. This tick is of medical importance because of its ability to transmit Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, human babesiosis, Powassan encephalitis, and more.

pestworld

ticks

How to Make Your Yard Tick Resistant

There are several things you can do to deter ticks in your yards:

  • use natural plantings to encourage tick-eating creatures in your yard. These tick predators include frogs, spiders, birds etc.
  • ticks do not like dry, sunny gardens, so plan accordingly
  • ticks do like woodpiles, brush or leaf piles, and stone walls
  • choose deer-resistant plantings as deer are primary tick carriers. Other options include deer fences and repellents
  • Japanese Barberry has a higher incidence of ticks
  • discourage raccoons, skunks, and opossums (all tick carriers) with tight-fitting garbage can lids
  • keep your lawns cut low especially around features difficult to cut around. These include around trees, fence lines, play structures, sheds, shrubs, etc.

Personal Tick Protection

To decrease your risk of tick infection, you can try the following preventative methods:

  • spray clothing with DEET repellent
  • tuck pants into socks or boots in wooded areas
  • wear light coloured clothing to spot them easier
  • inspect children, pets, and yourself upon returning from wooded areas
  • remove any ticks with tweezers

photo credit

Cardinals: Attract Them to Your Yard

cardinals

Did you know that cardinals are predominantly monogamous? They mate for life until one is left alone upon the demise of the other. Only then do they seek another partner, typically in the non-breeding season. Sources say their typically tight bonds can be a bit looser in the winter months though.

What do They Eat?

As omnivores, cardinals may eat both plants and animals, including insects, seeds (sunflower and safflower are favourites) nuts, grains, fruit, and flower buds on plants and trees. Their strong beaks even permit them to enjoy shelled peanuts and corn.

When insects are scarce in the winter months, they supplement their protein with suet in feeders. You will often see them foraging for meals on the ground and the feeders they do frequent must have sturdy perches or trays so they can eat while facing forward.

Apparently, it is the carotenoids in their food that give cardinals their beautiful, characteristic red colouring. These carotenoids are sourced from bacteria, plants and fungi that cardinals consume. While the males are almost all red, including their beaks, females have orange beaks with light brown feathers, and can vary in the extent of the red patches on their chests.

These gorgeous red birds get their name from the fact that their feathers are similar in colour to the robes worn by Roman Catholic high officials…Cardinals.

Cardinals Stay Put in Winter

Considered non-migratory, cardinals stay put in winter, typically living their whole life within one mile of where they were born. They hang out in dense evergreen shrubs and tangled vines.

Help them out by leaving your garden cleanup to spring so they have twigs, leaves and such to forage for and hide in all year round.

Timid yet Territorial

Another fact is that cardinals are much more timid, shy and less aggressive than many other birds. Sudden movements will startle them. The yards and feeders they do grace with their beauty offer nearby protection and privacy in the form of evergreen shrubs, vines or trees. That way they can scope out the food sources and retreat quickly to protective coverage as needed.

Usually non-aggressive, they can be very aggressive when defending their territory. This is especially common during mating season when hormones are raging. Fights with intruders in their territory can last for days. They become so aggressive in fact that they often attack their own reflections seen in anything shiny such as mirrors and windows, even gazing balls.

Attract Them to Your Yard

To attract them to your yard, and ensure they stick around:

  • keep your feeders and water baths clean and full. Use mild dish soap or a 1:9 solution of bleach and hot water to clean both often. Dry the feeder well before filling.
  • keep their food and water feeders away from your outdoor pets and spots they may ambush the birds from
  • provide a water supply and don’t let it freeze in winter. Depending on where you live, this may simply be achieved by refreshing still water to avoid freezing. In my area however, it means using a heated birdbath or a submersible water heater to prevent freezing.
  • provide nesting shelves for them to cozy up in. Cardinals have several sets of offspring per year but don’t usually reuse any nests. This means they need lots of nesting material. Consider supplying them with lightweight materials like string or yarn, hair, dog fur, or unscented dryer lint to line the nests within the shrubs and vines they choose to build in.
  • provide a safe haven with lots of greenery in the form of ground cover, perennial flowers, small and large shrubs and trees.

My Experience with Cardinals

My husband and I love to watch the birds that visit our backyard. It would definitely be considered a safe haven for cardinals for the reasons above, especially the abundance of greenery within my gardens.

We have been speculating whether it is the same couple that has been visiting us for years. In researching information for this post, I think they are the same male and female pairing. They certainly repeat the same habits, moving from feeders to our trees, vines, shrubs, and ground cover throughout the day.

We have even witnessed a “fight” between two males that chased each other back and forth across the expanse of our yard numerous times.

Today I watched the male protectively watching the female at a feeder, then feed himself while she watched from nearby. Then in a blur (too fast for my cell phone camera) he flew away and she followed:

Pandemic Adventures at Mud Lake

pandemic takeaway, mud lake

A few months into the pandemic, when I was searching for outdoor activities to share with my grandchildren, a friend told me about Mud Lake. My (now) four-and-a-half-year-old grandson and I have since become regular visitors to this nature lover’s paradise in the middle of Ottawa. With so much to do and see there, our pandemic adventures never disappoint.

pandemic adventures

We are both nature lovers, preferring to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors on “adventures” as he calls them. The picture of the geese approaching us like a parade was taken on our very first visit to Mud Lake. It felt much like a welcoming committee!

The next visit we discovered the Ottawa river side.

On the stinking hot days we spent our time on the shady river side. It was absolutely beautiful there with a cool breeze off the Ottawa river. On the cooler days we would wander the trails that circle around Mud Lake. This is a bit of a misnomer, a swampy, more of a large pond than a lake. We found lots of critters of all kinds.

My grandson categorizes the sides by what we saw where. The crayfish were in the pools of water (much like tide pools) created by low water levels. These were a result of the extreme drought we had been experiencing. The baby milk snake was discovered on that side too. We spotted an Eastern screech owl in a tree along the road dividing the river side from the pond side. We just happened to park in front of his roost one day. The family of wild turkeys followed us around the trails at Mud Lake a few times.

More recently we have received lots of rain. The water levels are much higher now and the water much faster. Grandma has to continually warn him not to get too close to the water’s edge. The rocks he loved to hop on and examine (flip over) are totally submerged now. You can identify these pics by the changing colour in the leaves on the trees.

These pictures are just a few of my favourites from our pandemic adventures. Rrom both sides:

Now that junior kindergarten is this grandson’s top priority, our visits are limited to after school hours before the sun goes down. The weather is changing too but there is still lots to see around Mud Lake in the fall and winter.

Bees Can Sting Repeatedly!

I experienced the weirdest thing today, at least to me. Gardening in my own backyard, (for a change) I felt a sting on my left ankle. I yelled (it hurt!) and shooed away a fat bumblebee as I don’t like to harm bees. It rewarded me by coming back and stinging me again. In the same ankle! I was unaware the bees can sting repeatedly.

I retreated out of my backyard thinking I had disturbed a nest or something, but the darn bugger follwed me, stinging me again even though I was now 50 feet away. Once again I yelled “ouch” (don’t believe that) and ran up the slight incline to my front yard with the bee in pursuit. It was quicker than I and stung me a fourth time!

I now have two stings on each ankle! The small red spot at the bottom is a recovering bug bite I got at the cottage. My poor ankles are taking a beating…

bees can sting repeatedly
bee stings

I bet I will someday think this was funny; if I had a video of the episode I’m sure I looked and sounded very funny. Lucky for me that I am not allergic to bee stings.

That was enough gardening for today.

Instead, I came into the house and visited Mr Google looking for information on why bees might attack or at least sting repeatedly. I have been stung repeatedly before, (lucky me!) so am aware it is possible, I just want to know why me? After all, I’m the one that wears the Save the Bees t-shirt and purchased bumblebee necklaces for my granddaughters.

Back to the research…

I came across this article that says that bees recognize human faces! If that’s the case, I might be doomed…my backyard is not that big!

And another article that says angry bees produce higher quality venom that may help in the treatment and study of osteoarthritis and Parkinson’s disease. Maybe I should go donate blood as this guy (I am assuming it was the same one stinging me repeatedly) was obviously angry.

Interesting stuff.

Well, the swelling and the pain has subsided. When hubby arrived home from work I sent him out to the backyard to check for nests in the lawn or garden. He found nothing.

Photo credit: Pexels Free Photos

Patience is a Virtue

patience is a virtue

Patience is a virtue they say, unfortunately one that I (sometimes) have a limited and selective supply of.

Thankfully with my grandchildren I seem to have an unlimited abundance of patience, perhaps because I now realize, thanks to the wisdom acquired over my years, that it’s the little things that matter in life.

And time, I have much more time to spend on the small things, including the special small people in my life.

Patience is a virtue
frog hunting takes lots of patience!

I also lead a much less stressful life than I did when my three sons were young. Back then I had two full time jobs, one outside the home and one within. It has been proven that patience is inversely related to stress. Who hasn’t noticed that when they are stressed, the smallest of annoyances makes them impatient and when you become impatient, you feel agitated and stressed?

Of course there are still many things that test the level of my patience. Things like:

  • long lineups, anywhere
  • bad drivers
  • unnecessary traffic lights
  • commercials/advertisements when watching or reading shows/stories etc
  • people that consider themselves “experts” on social media that offer bad advice and inaccurate/wrong information

Thankfully, the things that make me impatient are not encountered as frequent these days.

What level is your patience at? Do/did you find it better or worse during Covid restrictions? What do you do to relieve the stress that impatience brings on or the impatience that stress brings on?

Pinecone Craftiness

What child doesn’t love collecting pinecone after pinecone? My grandchildren are no exception. They all love to collect them. The problem becomes what to do with the pinecones once they arrive at my home.

Pinecones and Summer Flowers

I got this idea somewhere, but cannot remember where. The last batch of pinecones my three-year-old granddaughter collected has become a summer flower arrangement, thanks to some spray paint in pretty colours and a plastic bowl.

The first step was to protect my garage floor. We painted the pinecones in the garage as it was raining out the day we decided to tackle this craft.

An old plastic-coated table cloth did the trick. I have several of these around, they come in handy in my gardening business to protect the floors of my van when transporting plants, soil and mulch.

Next, I protected my granddaughter’s clothing and hands as the spray paint I have on hand is not exactly kid-proof or easily removed from clothes or skin.

Although I have several aprons, including a few child-sized ones, they would not cover her arms or legs. So I used one of my favourite long-sleeved shirts designated as gardening wear; it fit her like a dress.

She also wore her garden gloves that stay at my place for our garden adventures/chores…

Pinecone craftiness
Protective gear

I had spray paint in green, purple, orange and two shades of pink, a nice assortment of summery colours. We saturated the pinecones with colour, then let them dry in the heat before arranging them in a plastic bowl…

Fall or Winter Pinecone Decorations

In fall or winter, pinecones can be painted white or silver or even left in their natural colour and used in Christmas or winter decorations.

Pinecones collected on our walks are usually small, perfect for holiday centrepieces and more craftiness.

Craft and even grocery stores carry larger ones in fall and winter. These jumbo pinecones look great in outdoor winter arrangements, some even have sticks attached to them for easy insertion into your decor.

Use your imagination to inspire your own pinecone craftiness!

Bill C269: Clean up our Waterways

Bill C269: Clean up our Waterways

The practice of dumping raw sewage into waterways is archaic and should not be acceptable in civilized countries, including Canada. Why do we continue to allow this? Learn about bill C269 and how it should help clean up the problem.

What is Bill C269?

Bill C269 was created to amend the Fisheries Act to prohibit dumping raw sewage into waterways that fish live in. That includes just about every waterway in Canada. This should be a “no brainer” in government proceedings.

Reviewed in February of this year, bill C269 was introduced by the conservative government to amend the current Fisheries Act due to the current and increasingly popular practice of dumping raw sewage into our waterways. Word of mouth is that the current Liberal government plans to vote the amendment down. Why? Most likely because it was introduced by the Conservatives.

Changes to the Fisheries Act

2019:

Bill C269: Clean up our Waterways
Bill C269: Clean up our Waterways

2021 Proposal for Bill C269

Current Wording:

deleterious substance means

  • (a) any substance that, if added to any water, would degrade or alter or form part of a process of degradation or alteration of the quality of that water so that it is rendered or is likely to be rendered deleterious to fish or fish habitat or to the use by man of fish that frequent that water, or
  • (b) any water that contains a substance in such quantity or concentration, or that has been so treated, processed or changed, by heat or other means, from a natural state that it would, if added to any other water, degrade or alter or form part of a process of degradation or alteration of the quality of that water so that it is rendered or is likely to be rendered deleterious to fish or fish habitat or to the use by man of fish that frequent that water,

and without limiting the generality of the foregoing includes

  • (c) any substance or class of substances prescribed pursuant to paragraph (2)(a),
  • (d) any water that contains any substance or class of substances in a quantity or concentration that is equal to or in excess of a quantity or concentration prescribed in respect of that substance or class of substances pursuant to paragraph (2)(b), and
  • (e) any water that has been subjected to a treatment, process or change prescribed pursuant to paragraph (2)(c); (substance nocive)

Proposed Wording: within the definition deleterious substance after paragraph (b) and before paragraph (c) should be replaced with the the following:

“and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, does not include raw sewage, but includes”

and the definition of raw sewage as follows:

raw sewage means sewage that has not yet been processed or treated to separate and remove contaminants, and includes:

(a) used water from sanitary appliances that contains human fecal matter or human urine,

(b) used water, other than the type of water described in paragraph (a), from sanitary appliances or from other appliances in a kitchen or laundry,

and (c) surface runoff and stormwater that is mixed with the type of water described in (a)

What You Can Do:

Contact your Liberal MP to tell them to vote YES on bill C269 to amend the Fisheries Act. Don’t let this critical detail slip through the bureaucratic cracks. Fix the obvious; the act should have been amended years ago to define and prohibit the dumping of raw sewage into our waterways!

photo credit

Mud Lake: a Nature Lover’s Paradise

Recently I took my four year old grandson to Mud Lake, tucked in between the water filtration plant and Britannia beach in Ottawa. More of a (man made) wetland than a lake, Mud Lake is sure to delight nature lovers of any age. Also called the Britannia Conservation area, Mud Lake is maintained by the National Capital Commission (NCC)

Creatures in Their Natural Habitat

On our 3.5 km trek around the lake, we saw numerous friendly adult and baby ducks and geese, turtles, tiny frogs and tadpoles, huge bullfrogs, beaver dams (but no beavers) rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, chickadees and herons.

My grandson wanted to catch them all, but I convinced him to leave them there with their mommies and daddies.

Directions to Mud Lake

You can get there off Poulin, then Howe Street or by following Britannia Road to Cassels Street, next to the Britannia Yacht club. There are a few designated parking spots, but parking on either Howe Street on the south side or Cassels Road on the north side is easier and permitted. There are entrances to the trails around the perimeter of the lake from both sides.

NCC Rules

There are no dogs allowed and no bikes on the trails. These rules make sense as the area is supposed to be about conservation, namely the health and happiness of the wildlife that considers this area their home.

Although you are not supposed to feed the animals, the geese and ducks in particular were quite friendly, approaching us looking for food.

This aggressiveness is one reason you are not supposed to feed them. Creating dependence on humans for food is another reason to avoid feeding them our food. Ideally, they should be able to forage for any food they need to survive.

Respecting the natural beauty is an essential rule. No littering is obvious. Trails are well maintained and should be adhered to for protection of the fragile eco system.

When to Visit Mud Lake

Open year round, Mud Lake offers beauty, peacefulness and nature at its best throughout each season. Birds are predominant in the winter months, but the trails themselves are especially beautiful when snow covered.

Between Mud Lake and the yacht club, the elevated trails can be icy in the winter and spring though, so explore these carefully.

In the spring, migratory birds are abundant, in fact the area is know to bird watchers and photographers. The latest report shows 269 bird species!

In the summer months the wetlands come to life, full of all sorts of creatures. The trails are wide and easily manageable, even for seniors or baby strollers.

Favourite Moment

After our hike around the lake, we were enjoying a snack when a snake-like formation of geese approached. Mom was in the lead with at least 18 babies following along. They waddled ashore right beside us, climbed the small embankment and disappeared across the road…

Buzzpatch, Who and What They are

BUZZPATCH

Buzzpatch attracted my attention recently as a company that produces non-toxic, fun stickers that repel insects, namely mosquitoes. As a grandmother of five, these stickers appeal to me for use in my gardens as well as at our family cottage.

Who is Buzzpatch?

The company was established by parents for parents concerned about their children and grandchildren and the overabundance of mosquitoes any time we step out the door. Some (I have a few like this) kids are downright afraid of bugs, others don’t seem to notice them biting, but scratch the bites or worse, develop an allergic reaction to the bites.

What is Buzzpatch?

As the name depicts, buzzpatch are cute sticker-like patches that you attach to childrens’ (or adults’) clothing to keep the bugs at a distance. The bugs might hover around, but do not land when they smell the product.

Created from all natural essential oils (predominantly citronella AKA lemon) and no toxic DEET, these patches are safe for everyone. Stick them on your kids’ hats, shirts, pants etc. If worried about toddlers peeling them off, stick them on their bottoms or the tops of their hats.

My Experience with Essential Oils as Bug Repellents

I have been a proponent of essential oils for ages now and actually created my own bug repellent using geranium and lemon oils, both of which bugs hate. It smells wonderful and works, although I do reapply after several hours outdoors, especially if working up a sweat in my gardens.

Absolutely non-toxic, I spray it all over my clothing and even in my hair and on the bare skin of my neck, hands, legs, etc. My skin is very sensitive to everything else (including those other bug sprays and sunscreens) but not to this natural remedy.

How do Essential Oils Repel Mosquitoes?

When we as humans breathe, we release CO2 which mosquitoes are attracted to when we exhale. The scent in certain essential oils (like the citronella in Buzzpatch stickers) confuses the mosquitoes, creating an invisible shield around your kids from mosquitoes. That’s the theory, I am anxious to try out the stickers.

How do You Order BUZZPATCH?

Perhaps you have seen the same advertisement I did on Facebook. I was intrigued with the advertisement due to my experience with homemade bug repellent, so clicked on the ad and ordered.

I now have a referral code, please use it if you plan to order! If I love the buzzpatch product, I will create my own advertisement on this blog and share the news.

buzzpatch

I received my order of Buzz Patch stickers this week. They came in convenient, resealable (to keep the scent in) pouches, in sheets of six stickers, ten sheets per pouch. I ordered several pouches to keep a stash at our cottage, home and even in my van for pond adventures with my grandson.

I will keep you posted as to their effectiveness!

Save the Bees with the Bee Protectors

If you are into all things nature, you have heard that bees are endangered around the world. So endangered in fact that it is said the last bee will be extinct by 2035. That’s not far off! Whether this is due to climate change, the extensive use of pesticides, or any other possible reasons, that fact remains. Learn how you can help save the bees.

As usual, to save the bees education is key to changing our habits and preserving their habitats.

The Bee Protectors project has been in the works for a while, and it has been finally brought to fruition solely off the funding of our owners.

The Bee Protectors project is run by a small, passionate, group of individuals who have a goal of helping the world to be a better place through spreading the message of the importance of bees on our environment.

Bee (pun intended) the change and check out this website for unique bee-related clothing and even jewelry. Shipping is free for orders over $45.

My friends, family, and garden clients will be seeing me supporting the bees in this sweatshirt soon! I first have to decide on the yellow or green sweatshirt, maybe one of each…

save the bees