Phascination – Mantis Pods/Yes or No?

A recent winter walk revealed several mantis pods (ootheca) in Tall Pines State Preserve. I’ve never seen a pod as secure as this one atop a tall meadow tree. I don’t think a mouse, squirrel or bird would be able to hold on long enough to ravage the pod for food.

In past years, winter would find me actively searching out mantis pods to place in my garden as free insect control. I’ve stopped the hunt after reading several articles about praying mantids capturing small birds. Now an inner dilemma will arise when I spy a mantis in my gardens. Do I leave the predator or carry it off into the woods and away from the hummingbird/butterfly plants I grow in my garden? I know the choice I will make now and in the future…I will carry them away. The hummingbirds and butterflies will have my protection. It’s funny how your perspective changes when you find out more facts than you wanted to know.

Mantis pods also fall victim to predatory creatures. This pod was probably eaten by a hungry mouse or bird.

Today’s post is part of Jo’s Monday Walk.

Perspective, Pheathers and Phascination – Hello Friends!

Today I conceded that WordPress Blogs are the most user-friendly, and paid the fee for my blog’s overabundant media library. This will give me another year blogging at WordPress. I suppose I should say…I’m back.

I’m sharing the Cornell Lab Bird Cams as a start-up post. I’ve been especially intrigued with the Hawk, Fruit Feeders, and Savannah Osprey Cams. I’ve included them in my post. The bird cams are one of my favorite places to visit online. Enjoy!

Phascination & Peculiarities – Supermoon


img_3982Over the past few days, I’ve been watching the moon’s position in the sky through late daylight and early evening hours. I’ve enjoyed the nightly broadening of the moon’s surface into a brilliant Supermoon. The trees in my backyard often obscure my early evening view of the moon, so I begin scanning the sky as soon as the sun begins to wane. The photo of the moon was taken Sunday evening, November 13th, near 7:00 Eastern Standard Time.

This is the closest Full Moon since 1948. There won’t be another one this close, or closer, until 2034.

Phascination – Ladybugs

Never hurt a ladybug
We need them in the garden
Ladybugs help flowers grow
So we must give them pardon!
~Author Unknown


I love ladybugs. I’ve loved bugs, and been fascinated by them, since I was a baby—this is according to my mother. How could anyone not love a tiny ladybug? On top of being one of the most attractive and whimsical beetles in all the insect world, they are amazing garden predators. I photographed the ladybugs in the collage during a very warm, Autumn afternoon.

The spotted red ‘ladybug’ we all know so well (more correctly called the ‘lady beetle’ or ‘ladybird beetle’, as these insects are true beetles and not bugs) does dine on the occasional aphid and other soft-bodied pest, but like many insects, it doesn’t really eat all that much in its adult form. It’s the ladybug’s larvae that are voracious predators of soft-bodied problem insects, especially aphids. Gardeners plagued by those sap-sucking perfidious pests (i.e. rose growers) should become acquainted with the appearance of this beneficial ladybug baby; otherwise, they might try to kill the spiny, scary-looking, alligator/dragon-like things!


I came upon a bit of garden chaos last week; swarms of ladybugs flying around one corner of my house. Aha! A wintry mystery solved. Every year we have a few ladybugs take up residence inside our house. These rooms get the most afternoon sunshine and the outer walls of the house become toasty. I realize now the ladybugs I find inside are only a few stragglers from the multitude using our outer siding for their winter hibernation. The downspout is their road to a refuge from the cold.

Will I plug up the crack/hole in the siding where they enter? Not right now. I like to think of a swarm of ladybugs re-emerging in the Spring ready to lay the eggs of their voracious larva.

I’ve already found a couple of stragglers in the house.


Does this upset me?


No indeed! I am happy to see them. I give them a ride on the edge of a piece of paper and place them on a hospitable houseplant.


Take a look at this great article about indoor ladybugs:

Phascination & Painting – Praying Mantis Pods


My husband and I spent the good part of an hour this past winter in search of a praying mantis pod. Praying Mantis are a terrific predatory bug for keeping garden pests in check. Unfortunately, they cannot discriminate between a bad bug/good bug, and will eat caterpillars, butterflies and ladybugs too. There have even been instances, captured on video, of praying mantis devouring toads, frogs, small snakes, juvenile rodents and other small creatures.

We never found a pod this year, and I thought…’Well, maybe it is meant to be…the butterflies will be safer this year.’ Imagine my surprise to find a pod, as in the past, quite close, hidden in my holly bush.


I have mixed feelings about the praying mantis. I want a mantis in my vegetable garden to keep cabbage moths and other destructive bugs at bay, but I don’t want to lose any beneficial or beautiful creatures to their powerful forelegs and mandibles. Praying mantis in the garden are definitely a mixed blessing.

This month’s Floral Plant Parade Challenge at WetCanvas is a combination work of art with the subject matter of any flower with a butterfly included. Plant Parade Challenge – May 2015

Welcome to the Plant Parade for May, 2015, or a ‘Symphony of Colors’!!

With Spring showing off the different flowers, a remarkable sight begins grabbing our attention!! We notice that the flowers are not the only attraction, but small insects that have brilliant and colorful wings start ‘strutting’ their stuff!! They put on a grand show of flitting and swirling around the flowers and amaze us with their beauty!! How can there be so many unique shapes of the Butterflies? But, watch, when they land on a flower, we have stereo colors. . .both are competing for our attention! But, wait, competing or becoming one? A flower alone is sometimes breathtaking, but with a Butterfly so brilliant with its own remarkable markings, wow, what a kaleidoscope of colors!!

This month we are going to paint brilliant flowers with equally brilliant Butterflies attached to them. We will call it a “Symphony of Colors”!!

Floral Plant Parade reference photograph courtesy of WetCanvas Library and DominicM

Photo & Phascination – Abstracts?

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Intricate.”

Intricate: what does it mean to you? Show us your interpretation”

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Abstract paintings often appear simple, but in reality can be very intricate in their planning and placement of shapes. The beautiful abstract above, however, is not a painting, but a close-up view of the inner shell of a humble oyster. I find oysters beautiful. Here’s another look at the intricacy of the design uncropped.

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Next time you’re on a sandy beach, take a moment to admire an ordinary oyster shell. My husband and I often find instances of pareidolia in the designs of the oyster shells.

“Pareidolia (/pærɨˈdoʊliə/ parr-i-DOH-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague or random stimulus (often an image or sound) which is perceived as significant.

Common examples of this are seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, the moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on phonograph records when they are played in reverse.

Pareidolia is the visual form of apophenia, which is the perception of patterns within random data.” ~ Wikipedia

And then, of course, there are those amazing pearls…

Phascination – Sea Urchins


We found some beautiful urchin shells while we vacationed in Jamaica. A few were discovered while snorkeling, most were found in the brack line of a beach. I was amazed the shells survived the surf.


The largest is the size of my fist, the smallest about the diameter of a dime.


A few of the urchins are bleached out by the sun. I’ll use these for future projects.


Phairy, Phun and Phascination – Fairy Houses/Part I

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I have been fascinated by the creation of fairy houses since…well…since forever I guess. I remember creating tiny homes at the edge of a woodland when I was a young child. Looking back I realize I was creating fairy houses. My maternal grandmother delighted in stories of dolls coming alive and leprechauns and fairies hiding behind trees. I know her stories and imagination still live on in me. I am a grandmother of four amazing grandchildren, the oldest is seven, the youngest grandchild is seven months. I try to bring a little of the magical into their lives. This week the older two became very interested in the books and video I had on Fairy Houses.  Both of the books pictured in this blog post are excellent. “Fairy Houses of the Maine Coast,” by Maureen Heffernan, and “Fairy Houses…Everywhere,” by Barry and Tracy Kane, are filled with beautiful photographs and ideas for creating your own Fairy House.

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The DVD, “Kristen’s Fairy House,” was fun to watch with the grandchildren. It shows how a little girl and her aunt create and illustrate the story of building a fairy house. The video is only forty minutes long and a joy to watch. The videography is just beautiful. Family Fun magazine says of the DVD, “It has the timeless, transporting feel of a great storybook.”
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Alec and Derek, my oldest grandsons, created their own fairy house after looking at the books and watching the DVD. Tomorrow I’ll post their step by step progress.

Also…take a look at the post I reblogged today from “becreativemary.”

Peculiarities & Phascination – The Intruder


This week I was surprised by an uninvited guest in my home. A brilliant green praying mantis, measuring about an inch and a quarter, somehow found its way into the house. Even though this amazing bug has outstanding predator qualities, and I am sometimes bothered indoors by the occasional mosquito, spider or stink bug, I knew he belonged outside.


A good way to remove beneficial bugs from your home without harming them is to use a glass and a sturdy piece of paper. Place the glass over the insect and slide the paper between the bug and the wall. Voila…Captured! I try to release any bug that is an asset to a garden or to man into the garden.



The mantis exploring his new home on an Echinacea flower.


Phascination and Peculiarities – Tiny Tadpoles Part II

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The tiny tadpoles I collected from a mud puddle are thriving and growing. Their legs are developing. Yesterday I moved them to a larger container, and filled it with about an inch and a half of pond water. I added two rocks, a round tall stone, and a flat pebble. The pebble is partially submerged in the water and balanced on the taller rock. This will let the tadpoles become accustomed to the change in environment before they are ready to become a land dweller rather than live in the water. When the time is right they can crawl out onto the flat pebble and take a look at the world from a new vantage point. I will still keep the container on the porch. I am sure the hungry birds in my yard would make a quick meal of the little swimmers if they had access to them.

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I also cooked a batch of food to add to the fish food flakes and slimy leaves I have been feeding them. I boiled romaine lettuce in water until it was broken down a bit. I froze a few of the pieces in ice cube trays and gave the remaining pieces to the tadpoles. Within a few minutes they were devouring the boiled lettuce.

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The tiny tadpoles are doing well. I will update their progress in a few days. To read the original post go to this link: Tiny Tadpoles Part 1

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Phascination and Peculiarities – Tiny Tadpoles

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On a visit to the Jersey shore town of Strathmere last weekend, my husband and I parked in a huge puddle on the side of the road. When we returned to the truck after a day on the beach, I noticed that the puddle was filled with hundreds, if not thousands of tiny tadpoles. We have been having daily rains and the side of the road has become a river beside the concrete barrier of the curb. Knowing that the asphalt quickly heats in the summer sun and dries the puddles up, I immediately felt sorry for the tiny swimmers, knowing they probably wouldn’t make it to maturity.

I’m not sure what type of frog or toad these tadpoles are, but I am thinking most likely they are garden toads or tree frogs. I couldn’t resist saving a few and scooped them up with my palm and carried them home in a water bottle. (I say I did this for my grandsons to watch, but must admit, I still haven’t lost my childhood fascination for bugs and such.) A week later, most are thriving, although I think I did lose two or three. They are beginning to develop legs and the shape of their head is changing.

I found a good site explaining how to care for the small amphibians. A good way to feed them is to boil green lettuces until they are pulpy and place bits of it in the water. I am also lucky to have an outdoor pond that is filled with algae right now. (Hmmmm….not so sure that is lucky for me, but certainly is for the hungry tadpoles.) A little pond water added to their puddle water seemed to create the right environment for them.

Funny how quickly a person becomes protective. I am wondering what is the best solution for them as they morph into their final shape. I am thinking lawnmowers and hungry birds, and….well you get my line of thinking. What’s a person to do? Sigh….

Here is a terrific page on how to raise tadpoles to maturity.

Raising Tadpoles

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Phascination – A Silent Witness


On the way to Fortescue, NJ, a fishing town on the Delaware Bay, we pass this quiet scene. If you take another look at the same photograph below, enlarged and cropped for emphasis, you can see the sign that always attracts my attention and impresses me with it’s simplicity and quiet witness. I’m happy I was able to capture it with my camera as we drove past.


Phascination – The Toad House


Recently, my husband and I took our Scamp camper to the Belleplain State Forest and spent a relaxing day and night enjoying the perfect weather and surroundings. You can see our small egg-shaped camper in the background. Check out the foreground of the photo…do you see a golden eye?


This cute little forest toad tolerated our presence for a bit, and even let me take a few up close and personal photos. Soon he had enough of me though, and headed for his home. I was quite amused when he disappeared into a nearby tree. What a nice abode for a small toad. Sweet!


Phascination – Robin’s Nest


I happened to look up a day or two ago and spotted a mound of grass, sticks, ivy and bits of bark and debris emerging from an old bird house in one of our pine trees. On a nearby limb sat a mother robin, guarding her handiwork, and most likely, a clutch of eggs from predators and other birds.

My goodness! I never knew robins were such great guard birds. If a squirrel or another bird comes near the nest a whole troop of robins chases it away with much angry chirping and dive bombing. I’m fascinated that the mother robin seems to have many friends helping her make her nesting endeavor a success.

I love robins and feel great happiness one has nested in our yard.


Phascination – Drilled Clam Shells

On our last late-season trip to the beach I found quite a few clam shells with perfect holes in the top. I love finding clams like these…if I want to string them in a project the holes are already drilled for me. Mollusks of all kinds drill these holes. You can find an excellent explanation of this here: Why are there holes through some clam shells?

I found other pristine clam shells, perhaps they were the other side of a drilled shell. I find the blue stripes on these smaller sized clams very beautiful.

I can’t seem to go the beach without coming home with bags of shells. God is good! Beachcombing is one of the joys of my life.

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Place and Phascination – Block Island Day 6/The Cairns at Mohegan Bluffs

To get to the amazing beach below the steep hills of Mohegan Bluffs you must climb down 144 steps. The first time you descend you get a rude surprise. Instead of stepping onto the beach, you have a 15 to 20 foot portion of the bluff to pick your way down. This can be tricky. There are many natural springs in the bluffs, and the fog and surf spray can make the rocky dirt slippery. It’s worth the effort though. The beach is gorgeous, and the view in all directions is terrific. If you click on the photograph above you can get an idea of the climb at the end of the staircase. The two people in the upper right corner are at the end of the staircase, and the people in the middle have just finished climbing down the side of the bluff.

It was foggy when we reached the bottom this year. The misty atmosphere gave a magical feel to the field of Cairns along the beach.

I have never seen so many cairns in one spot before. The photograph can’t capture them all because they fade into the mist.

I loved this arrangement of stones with a message and decided it would make a great motto for the year. I took a snapshot and pasted it in the front of my daily to do notebook.

Here are a few more photographs of the beach at Mohegan Bluffs.

This gives you an idea of the clay that can be found all around the island. Many people apply it to their skin, let it dry in the sun, and then dip in the water to wash it off. Others create interesting works of art by scraping images into it with driftwood and shells.

Mohegan Bluffs is worth the climb.

Phascination – Baby Clams on the Beach

This is just a little blurb of a post about a “phascinating” natural phenomenon. Hundreds, upon thousands, most likely even millions of baby clams in the surfside sand at Strathmere, NJ each year. Smaller than a dime, many amazing colors, stripes and patterns make up the tiny clamshells. The baby clams wash up in the waves, they dig down, they wash up, they dig down. It is one of those endless cycles you can become almost hynotized by as you watch. Here’ s a little blurb.

Baby Clams on Strathmere Beach