Category Archives: Critters

Owl, Hawk, or Chupacabra?

So *this* happened.

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Yes, that is a pigeon’s head.

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Found it this morning. I have not yet ventured on the roof to see if the body is there.

What do you think?

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The other day we found a pigeon body (yes, just the body) on that very same corner of the roof.

We have been finding dead pigeons on our property for the past week or so.

The first time, we saw a stream of blood coming down the wall above the garage door. My husband just sprayed it off with water, without going on the roof to check.

The second time, we found just a body on that corner of the roof. It was whole. Like the head was just ripped off. And that’s it.

Then yesterday, there were 8 vultures in our backyard. They were ripping apart two dead pigeons in the yard.

Today, just a head. The body is quite possibly still on the roof.

My teens and I have been making up stories about what it could be:

1) Our long lost cat has come back and is now some feral thing living on our roof.

2) There is a serial pigeon murderer among the mass of pigeons that live on our neighbor’s roof (another story).

3) Someone is sending a message to those pigeons to not land on our house.

4) Could be an owl or a hawk.

5) It’s a chupacabra.

Oh, look. The vultures are back.

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Any theories?

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So You Want To Attract Some Ladybugs?

I discovered this by accident recently.

The perfect ladybug magnet.

aphids, brittlebush

Yes, ladybugs love aphids. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Let me tell you a quick story.

ladybug, brittlebush, flower

About a month ago, my husband released a container-full of ladybugs into our garden.

We followed the directions. Kind of.

We released them at dusk, just not over the period of a few days. So as we watched, about half of the ladybugs took flight and disappeared into the sunset.

Over the next few days, the ladybugs were fewer and fewer. My hubby was fairly annoyed, saying, “That’s the worst 9 bucks I’ve ever spent.”

I was disappointed but had previous experience gardening, and knew we’d eventually be home to some ladybugs. After all, we did have a lot of flowering plants and shrubs, and there were aphids here and there, as well as other yummies.

Fast forward a little over a month, and the other day my husband decided to trim the wild brittlebush growing in our garden. I went outside and the bush was very lopsided, and obviously not done being trimmed.

My husband told me that as soon as he started trimming, ladybugs started flying out of the bush, so he stopped.

My teen daughter and I took a closer look, and this is what we saw.

ladybug, larva, brittlebush

Ladybug larvae at different stages. All. Over. The. Bush.

ladybug, pupa, brittlebush

Ladybug pupa stages. My daughter commented this looks like a gross, mutated strawberry.

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Some ladybugs still looked long.

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Some had no spots. This one had half its shell darker than the other half.

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And of course… *queue up the Barry White*.

brittlebush flower

What has these ladybugs procreating like there’s no tomorrow?

Well, yes, the enormous food supply on this one plant. But this plant that is coated in aphids is called a Brittlebush, or Encelia farinosa.

It grows wild in the desert around us. It’s a beautiful weed really.

It attracts birds, bees, and other little critters that you want in your garden.

They normally grow like crazy once they get going, and they self-seed. I have several babies growing beneath this mama. I don’t consider it invasive, though.

I’m not sure about the ones you would find in a nursery, but the wild ones here have a taproot. I’ve tried propagating from cuttings. Failure every time.

If you want one, you have to dig it up, making sure to dig up the taproot with it.

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Ours is about 4 feet high right now, including the flowers.

So if you live in AZ, or another similar environment, give this weed a try! Let the aphids go crazy, and the ladybugs will come.

And stay.

And have lots of hot, wild lovin’.

It’s Super Easy To Catch Gophers. Yes, I’m Serious.

If you’re looking for info on how to catch and not kill gophers, I can’t help you.  Sorry.

If it makes anyone feel any better, I let all the cute, furry creatures (that love to destroy my garden and property) romp around at the back of my property and beyond.  I also don’t use poison.

It’s a quick death.

Maybe.

Anyway, since my hubby has been too busy with work and school, I’ve put myself in charge of a lot of the property upkeep.

Since I started gardening again – I just planted a crap-load of roses! – I’ve been more aware of all the critters roaming around.  I’ll be preparing a vegetable garden soon, too, so I needed to figure out how to control these critters.

So far, I’ve tried twice to catch gophers, and both times I’ve been successful.

Now I’m not claiming to be an expert.  But if I’m able to even catch one, anyone is capable.

Let’s get started!

1.  Tamp or stomp down every mound on your property, or in the area you want to focus on.

This ensures you will recognize a new mound, which is key.

I’d show you a photo of a new mound, but this gopher decided to dig out the side of a hole I had dug the previous day for a bareroot rose.

I noticed fresh dirt at the bottom of the hole, so I shoveled out the dirt and easily found the hole.

2.  The next day, check for a fresh mound.

The dirt will be looser than the surrounding dirt, and may be darker in color.

3.  Start digging.

Dig straight down into the mound, about a shovel-head length deep, like you’re digging a hole to plant something.

4.  Search for its tunnel.

gopher tunnel entrance

The entrance to its tunnel may or may not be apparent right away.

With your hands, brush around the sides of the hole you dug with gentle pressure until dirt starts falling away easily, revealing the entrance.

Be patient.  It won’t be that deep.  You’ll find it.

5.  Place your trap.

victor blackbox gopher trap

I use The BlackBox GopherTrap by Victor.

Set your trap per the product’s instructions, then shove the open end up against the tunnel entrance.

(Yes, I know the trap in the photo is not set.)

6.  Cover trap.

Bury the trap with loose soil, but make sure no sunlight will penetrate.

Do not tamp or stomp down on the soil, as that may trigger the trap or disturb the placement.

7.  Check the trap the next day.

Okay, you’re probably wondering what time of day you should be placing and checking the trap.

A lot of the info I read stated early morning and early evening as the best times for placing, then just check the next day.

That’s up to you.

With a rambunctious toddler and a new Shepherd puppy, not to mention all the other wife- and mother-ly duties I have around the house, I have to make do with whatever time I’m allowed.

Both instances I placed traps, I placed them mid-day, and I caught something both times.  The first catch I checked mid-day the next day, and the second catch I checked the next morning.

dead gopher using victor blackbox trap

Ha!  Gotcha!

Dispose of gopher, then repeat previous steps as needed.

Good Luck!