Welcome to my blog, where you'll read about my family's progress in renovating our home - a custom-built board and batten (minus the battens) house built in 1975 on a rare 5-acre conservation-type piece of property in small town Ontario, boasting spectacular views of the village from the ridge at the back of the property (which I like to call, Ridgeview). When we moved here in the summer of 2010, the house had original carpets, flooring, cabinetry, windows, and decor. All it needed was a little TLC and a creative mind to remodel it, and so we got started...

You'll find links to some helpful home improvement sites and local contractors.

I also write inspirational poetry and quotes...so you'll catch glimpses of some of my work, and find links to my favorite sites and blogs, or you can follow my Poetical Soul blog (click here or the link at the top of the page).

Hope you enjoy your visit.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

More Bugs...

We were in our local Canadian Tire last week, and I happened to walk by a display with books.  These books were about Ontario wildlife, birds, and bugs.  The one called Bugs of Ontario immediately caught my attention, since we've seen a lot of bugs here at Ridgeview-Glen (certainly more than I've seen in my whole life living on a farm!).  And it is Spring, so more bugs come out of the woodwork (so to speak).

fishing spider similar to
one we had in the house
I've already talked about box elder bugs and ladybugs, but there are so many other bugs that I've seen in the less than 2 years that we took over that I've lost count on the different kinds (not counting spiders, for which we've had at least 8 different kinds IN the house - that's a whole other topic altogether! And quite frankly, they make my stomach turn, especially ginormous fishing spiders carrying baby sacks that decide to take up residence upstairs...blahhh!  Good thing it came out of the woodwork before we actually moved in, while I was painting the kids' room, and my husband got rid of it!  With it's brown striped hairy legs and baby sack that it was carrying, he could barely cover it with one of those large red drinking cups...I've been very wary of spiders ever since.). 

Dog Day Cicada on our patio chair

I must say, we've had some pretty interesting bugs.  I think the most interesting bug I've seen so far is a Dog Day Cicada (pronounced "sick-AY-duh", "SICK-ah-DAHH" or "sih-KAH-duh").  This bug appeared on a patio chair on the deck last summer.  At first I thought it was a fly, but it was way too big (about 2 inches long), with its large bug-eyes and green/black body and beautiful transparent wings.  I tried taking several pictures, and managed a couple of good ones.  I had never seen one of these bugs before, and apparently they're pretty elusive (according to the Bugs of Ontario book), but have heard them for many years, always wondering what made that sound.  These bugs can be heard in the summer making incredibly loud buzzing sounds.  To me, the sound always seemed to come from the hydro wires, but apparently it's the male singing on a tree about 3 or 4 meters above ground.  It'll stop singing or fly away if you scare it.  Now I know it's the Dog Day Cicada, and I'll listen a bit more attentively this summer. 

Red Flat Bark Beetle
No such photo ops with one of the more recent sightings in our home - of a Red Flat Bark Beetle.  I saw this bright red bug that was about an inch long crawling up our bricked fireplace a couple of months ago.  It must have come in with the fire wood, since these creatures live under the bark of trees (they don't like to burrow into wood too much since they don't like to work hard to get around).  Because the Red Flat Bark Beetle bug live just below the bark, they make for easy pickings by woodpeckers who can hear them scratching below the bark.  These bugs aren't very common, but are a pretty good bug to have around - they eat other tunnelling forest pest bugs such as the larvae of various long-horned beetles and jewel beetles that damage trees.   

red dragonfly like the ones we had last summer
 My favorite bug sighting was of a red dragonfly last summer.  It landed right beside my foot - close enough to admire its beautiful red body and shimmery wings.  These are actually called meadowhawks.  They're smaller than the blue/green dragonflies (called darners), but are certainly no less beautiful.  Dragonflies lay their eggs near or on water.  They spend most of their lives as larvae (up to 6 years) and only a couple of months as an actual dragonfly.  While some types of dragonflies stay near water, meadowhawks can travel a great distance from their breeding pond.  Dragonflies are my favorite bug to see and watch.  They're not only beautiful, but they eat mosquitoes, of which there is certainly no shortage around here.  They also eat other soft-bodied flying insects including flies, small moths, mayflies, and flying ants.

image of Leaf-footed Bug
One of the not-so-nice looking bugs that I've seen quite often in our house is the Leaf-footed Bug (or coniferous seed bug), referring to the flat, leaf-like expansions of the hind legs.  They feed on plants, mostly seeds, and although can be pests on coniferous trees, they're not too destructive to otherwise healthy trees. The adults can wander into houses in the fall (as they have done at our house), crawling into wall voids and attics through cracks and gaps in the siding, foundation and eaves, or around windows after sunset. They cannot reproduce in the house, and like box elder bugs, they are completely harmless to people, pets or house and household contents, but they can be a huge annoyance. And you don't really want to squish them - they stink!  Although interesting looking, I think of them as ugly, slow, not-so-smart bugs - they're easy to catch and get rid of. 

Other interesting bug sightings include a Green Lacewing (good garden bug - like ladybugs, they eat aphids; unfortunately, I only saw a dead one in the house), Praying Mantis (also a good predator bug, feeding on other bugs; lots of these around - one even landed on my son's shoulder in the house during our first summer, and I had a one of them "watching" me one evening in the garage last summer as I stained our front door), and a Walking Stick (which we found sitting outside on the living room window frame, before the windows were replaced - it really did look like a stick, and moved very slowly).

But I think what's more interesting than seeing these bugs is that I actually don't mind sharing my space with some of these bugs, as long as they're harmless (at least to us and our house) and stay off in the corner somewhere out of my way where I can admire them from a distance.  I've certainly come a long way in bug tolerance from when I was a kid, growing up on the farm - I would freak at the site of any bug.