Friday, March 12, 2010

canopy survey?

These were blasted off our eves when they pressure washed the house yesterday--prep for painting...


"Paper Wasps

Paper wasps such as Polistes fuscatus aurifer, P. apachus, and P. dominulus are large (1-inch long), slender wasps with long legs and a distinct, slender waist. Background colors vary, but most western species tend to be golden brown, or darker, with large patches of yellow or red... they hang their paper nests in protected areas, such as under eaves, in attics, or under tree branches or vines. Each nest hangs like an open umbrella from a pedicel (stalk) and has open cells that can be seen from beneath the nest... Paper wasp nests rarely exceed the size of an outstretched hand and populations vary between 15 to 200 individuals. Most species are relatively unaggressive, but they can be a problem when they nest over doorways or in other areas of human activity, such as fruit trees."

I remember trying to figure out what some of the wasps I saw last summer were, and the long, dangling legs were a key marker, and I think they were the paper wasps.

If you click on the above you can see the texture. You can just imagine these creatures chewing pulp and building the cells.

More from UC Davis on the next type of nest we found:
"Mud daubers are black and yellow, thread-waisted, solitary wasps that build a hard mud nest, usually on ceilings and walls, attended by a single female wasp. ... They do not defend their nests and rarely sting. During winter, you can safely remove the nests without spraying."

We're lucky the species we have here are not aggressive. I've caught them a bunch of times in the house with the old glass-and-post-card trick to transport them back outside, with no problem.

So, while the painters were here scraping, I figured now would be a good time to clean out the gutters (since they have to paint them). So, up I climbed and this is what I saw:

Who knew this cute little canopy of life forms was up here the whole time? (easier to see if you click on the above) Really sweet mosses and lichen. Tomorrow I'll try and take pictures of some species more closely so maybe I can identify some of them.

Switching gears--the three amigos (hens) were out in the garden much of the day, so by the time it was getting cloudy, the two white chickens were hanging out near and in the nest box, which I'd relocated to the garden for them. Upon returning them to their coop (to which they practically jogged, no raisin lure required) I then returned the nest box, squeezing it between the back wall and Moby, who was already perched there, ready to get in and lay.

A few minutes later I returned to find this.

Where there's a will, there's a way.

So, next time you're feeling a little cramped at the office, or at home, remember Edie and Moby resting amicably in the same 1 cubic foot of space. Maybe you'll feel a little better.


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Cool people write inside rectangles....